Seeking cash crop: Cape Elizabeth family farm promotes expansion plan
CAPE ELIZABETH — The Jordans have big plans for Alewive's Brook Farm.
The family, which has owned and operated the Old Ocean House Road farm since 1957, aims to build a new farm stand, commercial kitchen and herb greenhouse in the coming months.
The only problem is how to pay for it.
The farm in 2012 tried to crowd-fund its expansion using a $50,000 Kickstarter campaign. That effort failed, but the family has continued fundraising and now hopes to make a final push with a promotion that offers customers $110 worth of farm credit for $100. They hope to sign up 200 people, and raise $20,000.
"In order for my generation, my siblings and I, to continue the farm, we need a better facility," said Caitlin Jordan, a town councilor, whose father Jodie opened the farm. "Adding the small kitchen to be able to do processed things and cook lobsters, it's our way of growing the business."
Jordan runs the farm along with her father and siblings Tucker, Casey and Lincoln, all of whom reside on the property.
Their major goal is to replace the dilapidated garage that serves as a farm stand with a new, modern space that provides insulation for year-round service and a second-story office. The new farm stand would include a commercial kitchen, where the family would make, package and sell jams, relishes, pickles, sauces and baked goods.
It would also enable them to sell cooked lobsters. Alewive's Brook Farm sells live lobsters, caught in Kettle Cove by Tucker and Jodie, but often has to turn away customers who aren't interested in cooking them, Jordan said.
"A lot of people complain about the smell and the cleanup," she said. "They say the smell kind of wafts throughout your house and lingers. When you bring the lobsters in already cooked, it doesn't have the same effect. We've cooked lobsters in our kitchen my whole life, so I'm obviously not one who shares that view.
"Other people can't handle putting the live lobster in the pot," she added. "They have no problem with eating it, they just can't do that."
Once fundraising is complete, Jordan said, the farm will work with several local contractors, including L.P. Murray & Sons, Bowdler Electric and Down & Back Wood Salvage, some of whom will help build the farm stand at reduced rates. Several regular customers have offered to support the cause by showing up and pounding nails.
Other expansion plans include the creation of an herb house, to be manned by Lincoln, who has spent the past few summers studying the art of herb growing with another farmer, his great uncle, Lester.
The Jordans also intend to put six more of their 80-some acres into continuous production. A hoop house, a kind of plastic tunnel used to facilitate cold-weather growing, was installed in October and will be planted for the first time later this winter.
The Jordans hope to begin construction on the farm stand in March and be finished by May, Caitlin said. But the time line is dependent upon fundraising. They need the money before they can get started.
"Either this happens or it doesn't," Caitlin said. "Otherwise, we have to re-evaluate whether or not we can move forward with the other expansion ideas, whether it's worth it for my siblings to continue to invest time and energy into this life."