pnms-fptfarmclasses-011409 Do-it-yourself classes teach farming basics

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FREEPORT — Knitting, cheese and wine making, animal tracking and astronomy are a few of the classes offered at Wolfe’s Neck Farm this winter as part of a do-it-yourself series.
Heather Foran, an AmeriCorps volunteer at the farm, found instructors to teach skills many people may want to improve upon or learn for the first time.
“With the current economic crisis we are experiencing, I think there will be an increased need for these skills,” she said. “It is a safe venue for people to learn certain skills that will save them money and make them more self-reliant.”
Foran said it is also a positive way to strengthen the local community.
The instructors are local residents eager to share their knowledge.
Gorham resident Liz Charles will teach the cheese-, bread- and butter- making classes. She said while she is not an expert, she is looking forward to sharing her experiences and learning from others as well.
“I really believe in keeping things at a local level,” she said. “Sometimes that can be more expensive to live that way, but to us, it’s really important.”
Charles grew up in Portland and went to school at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. After traveling to Honduras for eight months, she returned to Maine.
She said she was happy for the opportunity to connect with people who want to embrace a more healthy lifestyle and was pleased about the class barter or trade option.
According to Foran, the classes are based on a $10 per hour fee schedule, but people can trade or barter if money is tight. Half of the class fee will go to the farm, and the other half to the instructors.
“We don’t want these classes to be cost-prohibitive, and we are always looking for volunteers at the farm,” she said. “There are trails and animals to tend to and farm work to be done.”
Charles said the barter option was a way to recognize people’s skills without incorporating monetary value to their talent.
“People have gifts and talents that will grow because of this system,” she said. “It reminds me of a time when skill trade was as valuable as monetary compensation.”
Series instructor Andy McLeod said the opportunity to teach an outdoors night walking class was exciting.
“Every other week we will walk in the woods, find constellations, and observe owls and night ceatures,” he said.
McLeod has a degree in environmental geosciences from the University of Southern Maine and has taught environmental education to students in the past. He said participants will need to dress warmly, but flashlights will not be that necessary as the night walks are for gazing on creatures and stars in the dark.
Julia Comerford, a jeweler and potter, will teach marmalade, jam and bread-making classes.
“These are things I do at home,” she said. “Growing up, my family was creative in this way. Then, it didn’t feel creative, it was just how it was.”
Comerford said she was looking forward to giving people the skills to make their own foods instead of having to buy them at the store.
“I think the people who come to these classes will see the skills are doable,” she said. “It is a good way to meet others in the community and a good way to learn what other people have to offer.”
Foran said if the series is a success, the farm will consider expanding the program past February.
Artie Flanders will lead a wine-making series and teach a soap-making class. Liz Johnson of Freeport will teach how to knit hats, mittens and socks. Cindy Stevens and Sophie DeMaio will lead outdoor hiking and informative forestry classes.
The classes will take place at the Little River Farmhouse at 184 Burnett Road at Wolfe’s Neck Farm. For a complete list of classes and times, visit For additional information, contact Foran at 865-4363 or

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or 

pnms-Doityourself-011509.JPGPhoto courtesy Mariah Healy
Arthur Flanders, who will teach classes at Wolfe’s Neck Farm in Freeport, makes mozzarella cheese by separating the curds from the whey at his Gorham home.