Our first year farming we grew 2½ acres (predominantly potatoes) with a roto-tiller. At the end of the season, with no local markets and
a garage full of potatoes, we unsnapped the seats, loaded a couple of thousand pounds of potatoes and down the road I went to see who would be interested.
The amazing reception we had lead us to distribution all over Boston, Eastern Massachusetts, and New Hampshire with occasional side trips to Connecticut and
Vermont. To support the demand I began sourcing potatoes (and ultimately other root crops) from other Aroostook County organic farmers and the Crown O’
Maine Organic Coop was born although not yet specifically named. The birth-struggle of the organization is a story for another time.
The kids used to call the van Big Red, but in the pre-dawn hours, dodging moose and navigating all kinds of weather, as I considered the
quixotic folly of my determined task, I came to understand its name to be "Rocinante".
Rocinante and I would leave Grand Isle (near Madawaska) sometimes at 3 am in order to start deliveries in central and southern Maine. On a
good day I might reach my mother’s house in Carlisle, Mass. where the garage became my first impromptu warehouse. In the Fall and Winter this was perfect
for handling root crops. Having relatives (who were willing to put up with me) in key locations like Portland and my mother’s outside of Boston, facilitated cost
Some days, after reaching my mother’s around 7pm to a waiting dinner, I would crash until the phone rang at midnight, a call from a
contracted trucker as he went past Portsmouth, NH. This was my signal to saddle up Rocinante and meet the truck near Lowell on I-495 and off-load another
5,000 lbs. of potatoes and roots for delivery into Boston early the next morning. We sometimes did this pitch and catch twice in a week because we were
facilitating deliveries directly into stores for Bread & Circus, Wild Harvest, Nature’s Heartland, Harvest Coops and many of the ‘Indies’ around the Boston
By the end of 2001, I retired Rocinante to the farm with 300,000 miles on it. The Big R now pulls harness around the farm as a tool wagon and all purpose off
road vehicle, and during the winter sleeps quietly atop a hill behind the farmhouse.
The Next Stage.
After retiring Rocinante, we graduated to a Ford E-450 box truck.
(with the help of a grant from the Town of Grand Isle) we were able to buy a new Mercedes-diesel powered Freightliner, and our worries
of not having enough space in our delivery vehicle became a thing of the past. However, in 2008 another surge
of COMOC growth catapulted us into our second 24' refrigerated box truck.
So if you see us on the road, wave "Hi!"— and know that we're on our way to feed a lot of folks with local
and organic Maine foods.