Raising more than just cows

For the Varneys, organic agriculture is the best way to live an honest and ethical life.

“This is how my grandfather taught us to farm. We never thought there was any other way.”

In a co-op full of organic pioneers, Gregg and Gloria Varney stand out. They are the owners and operators of Nezinscot Farms, the first organic-certified farm in Maine, and they go about their daily business with boundless energy and missionary zeal.

The moment you see the Varneys barn—with the words “Who’s your farmer?” written in big, yellow letters facing the road—it becomes clear that they want to spread the gospel of organic, locally produced food. They got into organic farming because they felt it was the most sustainable way to carry forward Gregg’s family farming tradition. They also thought it was safest for their kids.

“When you live on the banks of the Nezinscot River,” Gregg says in his distinctive Yankee accent, “you want to keep it pure and clean for the kids and fish to swim in.”

The next generation is always on Gregg and Gloria’s minds. They have five kids of their own to help on the farm, and they also play host to a rotating crop of interns who want to learn how the Varneys created one of the most diversified and successful organic farms in New England.

“We just came to believe that everything was connected on the farm,” explains Gloria. The land and the animals provide for the Varneys, and the Varneys give back.

Like most Mainers, the Varneys enjoy the peace of mind that comes with being their own bosses. “We didn’t like the idea of being controlled by outside investors,” Gregg says. The family is largely self-sufficient, and they grow enough food to stock their own farm store with jams, pickles and artisanal cheeses. 

But the Varneys also make a tremendous effort to push their abundance out into the community. Whether it’s the numerous offerings in their various stores, teaching farming at local universities, or volunteering as caretakers for the Nezinscot River, Gregg and Gloria are deeply committed to sharing both food and knowledge with those around them. 

As Gregg puts it, “We all grow together.”

Polich Farms
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Polich Farms

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