Backstage Farm

An Acting Teacher and a professional Costume Designer turned sustenance farmers, have a one acre farm in coastal, Blue Hill, Maine.

Using organic methods growing for Farmers Markets, Co-ops, health food stores, restaurants, and ever-growing cadre of loyal customers. Producing lacto-fermented sauerkraut, pickles, hot sauce, kimchi as well as garlic scape pesto, fruits and berries, eggs, jams and jellies and a variety of fresh produce.

The branches of a peach tree.

Early April to late October is ideal, we will consider someone from May to September as well.

Backstage farm is five miles from the center of Blue Hill, a small coastal town with vibrant farming and artistic communities. We are 40 minutes from Acadia National Park and Bangor. Many artists and artisans live and work in the area and there are many organic farms nearby with apprentices with whom to forge friendships. We have an active Grange in walking distance from us that offers different community events and get togethers.

We grow a vast variety of organic, vegetables, fruits and berries. In addition to our outdoor gardens, we have three high tunnels, a number of low tunnels, a flock of thirty free-range egg- laying chickens. We forage for edible mushrooms in the woods around us. We are famous for our line of Moxie’s value-added, lacto-fermented products, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, ets. We are a part of the famous Blue Hill Farmers Market and we sell to many health food stores, coops, restaurants and to an ever-growing cadre of our loyal customers. We participate in Senior Farm Share program and the Gleaning initiative.

We are Certified Naturally Grown (www.CNGfarming.org)

Certified Naturally Grown farmers don’t use synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicide, or GMOs, just like certified organic farmers. The main difference between CNG and organic is our certification model, which relies on peer inspections, transparency, and direct relationships with community members and other farmers. We are well known in our community as everyone who purchases our products knows about our responsible practices.

Our Apprentice will learn how to homestead on a small farm, how to raise a small flock of fowl, grow and preserve crops, make jams and jellies, ferment food, i.e. sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, hot sauce, make other value-added foods and learn to utilize all of it for sustenance. They will prepare the soil for different crops, learn how to manage compost consisting of food particles, seaweed, horse and cow manure, plant matter and chicken litter, how to harvest and prepare crops for Farmers Markets, retail stores and restaurants, how to price, sell and interact with the public. The apprentice will learn sustainable soil management, irrigation practices, succession planting and greenhouse production and management.

We hope that our apprentice will have some kind of transportation in order to be independent and also enjoy the beauties of the area on their days off.

We expect our apprentice to perform routine farm work, that involves bending, stooping, walking, lifting up to 50 lbs, standing while washing and processing food. We expect an eight hour work day with one and a half days off.

Elena is an experienced teacher working with diverse population of young people here and abroad.
She will teach by example, giving apprentice responsibility to work alone, work along with her, we will do research together and discuss our farming decisions. We encourage independent thinking, she welcomes new ideas and she is always open to discussion and problem solving ideas. We encourage our apprentice to get involved with MOFGA training workshops and farm tours.

Yes, Elena is a full time farmer during the growing season, concentrates on fermenting in winter and designs costumes for the New Surry Theatre productions during the off-season.

Our apprentice will work side by side with us and we will share two meals a day. Our apprentice will be invited to join us at farmers gatherings at the local Grange and other community events.

In addition to two meals a day with us, plus farm produce for their third meal and a private place to stay, we offer a stipend of $100 per week. We expect our apprentice to demonstrate good response to teaching, gain skills and demonstrate the ability to work independently and with motivation.

Our apprentice will have their own private quarters with a sleeping loft, fully equipped kitchenette, outdoor grill, refrigerator, hot water outdoor shower and a composting toilet. It is attached to the main building but has its own entrance. We are a non-smoking household and we do not use drugs. Elena is a great cook and a vegetarian.

Elena is a visual and hands-on learner. She is also very adept with on-line research , she designs all visual and promotional materials for the farm including all the labels for our value-added products. She teaches by example, by showing, by encouraging and welcoming questions and initiating discussions.

We would prefer to meet with our prospective apprentice but if not possible we would gladly speak via phone, Skype or FaceTime.. We would expect a trial period of one week so everyone would know that they are happy with the situation.

We do not have a manual and our process for evaluating work is that everyone gets along with each other. Elena likes to give an instant feedback and always encourages questioning and discussions. She always learns from the people she work with and have never found the need for “disciplinary action.”

Elena was invited to teach Costume Design at the University of Maine as a J1 Professor in 1989. Soon after she married her late husband Bill Raiten, the founder and Artistic Director for forty years of the new Surry Theatre in Blue Hill she moved to Blue Hill where they purchased their small farm sited on that magical strip along Route 15, near the Blue Hill and Penobscot border, which has produced and continues to produce so much of our region’s local foods. They became serious farmers soon after as their desire to live off the land became stronger. After Bill’s passing in 2022 Elena continues on that path as she grows as farmer and producer of healthy lacto- fermented products that the community has embraced as well as in her love of the land and passion of helping others. Her philosophy is to respect everyone’s individuality, respect and care for the land; to work hard and to find peace in their lives. Elena’s daughter daughter holds a Master Degree in Natural Resources and work in the field in Vermont.

We always were and Elena remains very liberal and accepting person, throughout the years we worked with hundreds and hundreds of people, literally, we always respect other people’s opinions and beliefs and never impose our values and beliefs on somebody who is not interested or opposed to them.
As long as an apprentice does not try to change her we will be fine.

Being an experienced teacher Elena loves to share her knowledge in a friendly, nonjudgemental way. She expects mistakes will be made and she never put blame or shame anyone for making a mistake. Instead she turn it into a positive learning experience. For many years Bill and Elena developed a real bond with their apprentices, many of them come back to visit and many stay in touch for more than ten years. Elena encourages her apprentices to take advantage of any training opportunities that might be available in the area

Jade Mallor (2023), [email protected], 207-653-9695.

Sarah Pierre (2022), [email protected], 520-850-2298.

Miranda Benson (Former Apprentice/Friend), [email protected], 909-263-6977.

Backstage Farm

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