Farm girl brings fresh fish to local markets
Lincolnville — After Stephanie Lippman gave birth to her son Gabriel she began exploring job possibilities. Lippman, who grew up on Horsepower Farm in Prospect knew one thing — she wanted employment that would allow her to spend time with her young son and work the 7 acres she owns with her husband Grant.
"I always knew I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom and that I wanted to homestead," Lippman said, adding it's vitally important to her that her children grow up knowing where their food comes from and having a hands-on roll in growing and raising what they'll eventually eat.
Green Shire Farm was born from a Tolkien term, Lippman explained. They presently grow veggies, have two pigs and many chickens. Still, Lippman said she doesn't want to farm for market but to provide for her family.
After exploring existing possibilities for employment Lippman decided to follow in the footsteps of her younger sister who sells fresh seafood as a mobile vendor in Bangor. Lippman thought the sale of fresh seafood would not only be in keeping with her philosophy on fresh local food, it would allow her to spend her days in the company of her son.
She worked to bring her van into compliance with the requirements for a mobile vendor. She obtained a mobile vendors license and made the requisite contacts to obtain fresh fish wholesale. Originally she anticipated parking on the roadside and selling from there.
"It didn't quite work that way," she explained with a laugh.
She said unlike Bangor, the Midcoast market is competitive. Between the competition of existing seafood vendors and the challenge of keeping Gabriel safe on a busy roadside, Lippman settled on a new model.
"I thought 'maybe I can join the farmers' markets,'" she said.
Lippman currently sells her wares at farmers' markets in Lincolnville, Union and Belfast. She said she's hoping that she'll be accepted as a Wednesday vendor in Camden, too.
"So far it's worked out really well," she said.
She noted she's just getting started and is still very much in the stage of figuring out what works and what doesn't.
Lippman said she was at the Union Farmers' Market on Friday June 15. Gabriel — now nearly two — grabbed a live lobster from her cooler and was chasing the older kids around the park where the market takes place. She said she was laughing at his antics as he played.
"All of the sudden I heard someone say 'there's lobster here?'" she recounted.
Lippman said she gets her fish from Belfast and Portland. Her crab and lobster comes from local lobsterman Dana Berry, who fishes out of Lincolnville. She obtains a price list at the beginning of each week from her wholesale vendors and selects her order based on price and availability. She said she orders the fish cut in various sizes to give her customers a good selection. She can also special order fish to customer specifications.
"If people tell me ahead of time I'll get them exactly what they want," she explained.
All of her fish is pre-weighed and wrapped for ease of transport and sale at market. She stocks what's fresh and looks the best but generally has an assortment including haddock, scallops, crab, lobster and assorted other fresh-caught offerings.
On Saturday afternoon she makes one final attempt to sell her market leftovers fresh by calling her neighbors and offering delivery in the Lincolnville Beach area. Unsold product is then frozen fresh and offered at a slight price reduction.
Lippman said she was reticent to sell frozen fish but had some requests for it from customers who have to travel or need their fish to keep for a few hours while they run errands. She said she now hopes to offer customers their choice of frozen or fresh product while she's in the process of getting the word out about her fledgling business.
Courier Publications reporter Jenna Lookner can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.