Mud Meadow’s farm stand anchors the Saturday lot at the Kennebunk Farmer’s Market. Tables filled with herbs, perennials and row after row of heirloom tomatoes and peppers, mark Janet and Dwight Weaver’s labor. The plants are hearty and carry with them the promise, when well-tended, to bear the season’s best produce.
Janet has developed a significant relationship with The Kennebunk Inn that sits less than fifty feet from the stand. It is a reciprocity where both farmer and chef understand one another. Restaurants who adopt their own kitchen gardens, reap a creative bounty; the plantings provide endless flavor combinations and infinite delight for both cooks and customers.
Shanna Horner O’Hea, co-owner and chef at the Inn explained, “We have been working with Janet and her family at Mud Meadow farm for at least eight years, She is a joy to work with because of her knowledge, hard work ethic and her positive laid back attitude. I think our philosophies mirror each other in that we like a mix of highly useable herbs and produce, ease in maintenance and new items that hit the farming market.”
The gardens at the Inn flank the back of the building and intertwine on to street-side patio. Horner O’Hea and Weaver work to plant by what’s popular on the menu, and what could be used a special: “They’re certain herbs we have every year in our garden because we use them so much on our menu: basil, mint, sage, rosemary, chives, parsley, Greek oregano, lemon thyme, tarragon and dill. This year we planted lavender in the back garden, and new varieties of spicy peppers and tomatoes. At this point Janet knows our menu pretty well so she sees what we go through quickly.” Shanna recounted.
The Inn’s beloved lobster pot pie includes a myriad of the garden’s herbs and Shanna with her husband, Chef Brian O’Hea infuse stocks, cream sauces, and even their chowder, to create rich deep flavors. The Inn won Maine Restaurant Week’s Cocktail Competition with one of Weaver’s herbs – sage, muddled with sugar and liquor. “I think as a Chef the best thing about having an herb garden is going outside, feeling the sun and taking a deep breath and cutting the fresh herbs. Getting to go outside before or during service is an amazing break – almost a re-energizing effect. Also from an Owner’s standpoint we love that we are able to cut the herbs for each use, no loss of product or money.” Shanna stated.
Mud Meadow Farm is at the Kennebunk Farmer’s Market each weekend through the Autumn
By Kristin Fuhrmann Simmons