Tag Archives: Songbird Farm

Borealis Breads’ Steamed Brown Bread

In anticipation of our 2017 Maine Farms journal, we are delighted to share this exclusive recipe from Jim Amaral’s forthcoming cookbook, Borealis Breads: the Renaissance of Grains, due out September 2018. Amaral is the founder and owner of Borealis Breads and sparked the revival of local grain production in the 1990s. Wanting fresh whole wheat flour, Amaral began working with Matt Williams of Aurora Mills & Farm in Linneus to reestablish a grower network and processing infrastructure that had been lost. The growth of Maine grains continues today, and the 2017 issue of our journal includes Up in The County: from Spuds to Grains by Nancy Harmon Jenkins. Her article tracks the rise of grain production in Aroostook, driven by the growth of craft brewers, distillers, and bakers like Amaral, and the zeitgeist of the local food movement.

The new issue of Maine Farms is ripe with stories from Maine’s vibrant farm and food landscape. Don’t miss it!  Renew or join as a member today to receive your copy in the mail this July. 


This simple bread is the epitome of comfort food. As you unmold the bread the aromas will embrace you with an
overwhelming sense of goodness. Slice while still warm and top with butter. Amaral bought his pudding mold at “Now
You’re Cooking” in Bath; you could substitute a 4-cup Bundt pan, then covered with tin foil and secured with string.


(Grams, Ounces, Volume)
Whole Wheat Flour 100, 3.5, 2/3 cup
Whole Rye Flour 85, 3.0, 2/3 cup
Abenaki Flint Cornmeal 90, 3.2, 2/3 cup
Buttermilk 227, 8.0, 1 cup
Molasses 160, 5.6, 1/2 cup
Baking Soda 3, 0.1, 1 tsp
Salt 3, 0.1, 1 tsp


Grease the inside of a 1 quart pudding mold.

Measure the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and briefly whisk to distribute the ingredients evenly.

In another bowl whisk together the molasses and buttermilk.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and using a spatula stir together until evenly combined.

Pour the batter into the pudding mold and place the cover on it. If a cover is unavailable for the mold, cover it with tin foil and secure the tinfoil to the mold with a piece of string.

Place a vegetable steamer in a large deep pot. Place the filled pudding mold on top of the vegetable steamer. Fill the pot with water till it comes 3/4 of the way up the sides of the pudding mold. Place a lid on the pot and bring the water to a slow simmer.

Steam the brown bread for a total of 1 1/2 hours. After 45 minutes, top the water in the pot up so that it remains 3/4 of the way up the side of the pudding mold.

When done, remove the pudding mold from the pot and remove the lid on the mold. Insert a thin skewer into the bread, the skewer should come out clean.

Place the pudding mold on a cooling rack and let cool for ten minutes. Then using pot holders flip the mold over onto the cooling rack. The bread should slide easily out of the mold.


The Maine grains:
Both the whole wheat flour and whole rye flour are grown and milled by Aurora Mills and Farm in Linneus, Maine. They are available at many food coops around the state in the bulk foods sections. The Abenaki flint cornmeal is is grown and milled at Songbird Farm in Unity, Maine. This cornmeal is packaged in 2 lb. bags and is available in many food coops as well.
The Pudding Mold:
Due to concerns over the chemicals such as bisphenol A used in can linings, Amaral recommends steaming the brown bread in a pudding mold rather than in tin cans which have been traditionally used for brown bread molds.

Agrarian Acts: Sold Out Concert Tour

Last week, MFT hosted a sold-out traveling dinner & concert tour with farmer-musicians Adam Nordell and Johanna Davis. The whirlwind tour brought farm-driven music to country stages from Portland to Blue Hill, with stops at Deering Grange in Portland, The Hub in Unity, and Halcyon Grange in Blue Hill.

Adam Nordell is a Maine-based roots-folk songwriter and organic farmer.  Together with his partner Johanna Davis, he cultivates thirteen acres of farmland in Unity at Songbird Farm and travels coast-to-coast performing high-energy, place-based folk music on guitar, banjo and fiddle.  Drawing imagery from the rolling hills of Maine farm country and his native-born Montana mountains, Adam writes lyrics stepped with a clear sense of place and rich in the folk music tradition. His new album is centered around the title track, “Walk These Fields”, and celebrates the beauty and stillness of rural landscapes, the struggle to make ends meet with limited resources, and the constantly surprising resilience that comes with hope.

Adam and Johanna were joined onstage by William Joseph Jiordan in Portland and Blue Hill, and Putnam Smith in Unity. You can find out more about all of these incredible musicians HERE.

In addition to farm-grown music, concert-goers enjoyed pizza made in the Maine Grain Alliance mobile wood-fired oven and made with Songbird Farm’s own flour and vegetables.

Maine Fare: Abenaki Flint Cornbread

A good cornbread recipe is worth its weight in gold. This classic recipe from the Cooking Down East by Marjorie Standish is one of my tried-and-true standbys. If you haven’t seen this cookbook yet, go find a copy, trust me.

Marjorie writes, “an old Maine recipe is just as much of an heirloom as a lovely antique.” It’s particularly fitting, then, to make this recipe using stone-ground heirloom cornmeal from Johanna and Adam at Songbird Farm  in Unity. Made with the Abenaki Flint cornmeal, maple syrup instead of sugar, and local butter or duck fat rather than shortening, and with or without the bacon, this cornbread is truly local, and incredibly delicious.

Abenaki Flint corn is native to the Northeast, and has been revived by farmers and regional seed producers in recent years. It’s a great “new” addition to the local farm scene in Maine, and a favorite of the customers who participate in Songbird Farm’s Pantry Share.

1 cup Abenaki Flint cornmeal
1 cup flour, sifted (I used Maine Grains flour)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
2 Tablespoons butter or lard, melted
optional: 3 to 4 slices finely cut raw bacon

Preheat oven to 425. Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the egg, milk and butter/lard and stir to combine. Lightly grease a 8×8 pan and pour the batter into it. If using, sprinkle the bacon pieces over the batter and bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
Serve warm, with butter.

Songbird Farm is the first farm in Maine to offer shares in a Pantry Share CSA.  The shares include heritage Warthog whole wheat flour, buckwheat flour, Abenaki Flint cornmeal (used in this recipe), popcorn, dry beans, oats, and more. Sign up for the 2016 share here.

Meet Your Farmers: Songbird Farm

Adam Nordell and Johanna Davis are the farmers and owners of Songbird Farm in Unity. Both Adam and Johanna worked on several farms before leasing ten acres of farmland in Starks in 2011. They farmed there for several years, always keeping an eye out for a more permanent piece of land.  When they found a 41-acre turn-key farm in Unity through Maine FarmLink, they jumped at the chance to be closer to family, friends, and their Midcoast markets. Maine Farmland Trust purchased an easement on the farm, enabling Adam and Johanna to meet the landowner’s selling price and buy the property.

“We were excited about this spot because of its history as a certified organic farm– it already had a couple of big greenhouses, a walk-in cooler, and a germination room.  This farm is also adjacent to some large fields owned by Sebasticook Regional Land Trust, and we’ve rented an additional 15-acre parcel from SRLT, which allows us to continue growing heritage wheat, rye and flint corn for our Pantry Share CSA.  The trick was finding enough land to support our existing farm business model in a location with strong community and nearby markets. And we did!”

Songbird Farm specializes in growing heirloom dry goods, such as Jacob’s Cattle beans and Abenaki Flint corn, which they grind into cornmeal (and happens to make the best cornbread ever — stay tuned for Friday’s Maine Fare recipe!). By growing and milling heritage varieties of grains that are well-suited to Maine’s growing conditions, they’re helping to develop an exciting new market in New England for locally-grown grains and flours. They also grow a variety of vegetables for Maine markets with the help of two friends working a few days a week, Nate Wax and Danielle Plourde.

This June marks Johanna and Adam’s second season growing on their land in Unity.

“We have a sense of what to expect from the soil and the micro climate, but we’re also just getting to know the place.  The exciting thing about having a mortgage is knowing that we can build that local knowledge for years and develop our business to reflect the strengths of this spot. We like how the fields slope gently to the southwest, how soil retains water during a dry spell, and how the breeze blows most of the blackflies away.  Also, we get pretty awesome sunsets.”

“We love farming because we get to work hard, spend most of our day outside, and most importantly, because we get to produce something so simple, and also so fundamental, as good food.”

Adam and Johanna are also musicians, and play music all over the country as Sassafras Stomp. Adam is releasing a solo album this summer, and we’ll be joining forces to put together a whirlwind series of dinner concerts in Portland, Unity, and Blue Hill at the end of August. Keep an eye on our Events page for more details and tickets, online July 8th!

Songbird Farm

Securing a Future for Farming: Meet Johanna and Adam of Songbird Farm

Songbird Farm, Unity

Adam Nordell and Johanna Davis are typical of many young farmers in Maine: hardworking, smart, and committed to producing good food in a sustainable way.

Both Adam and Johanna had worked on various farms before finding each other, and finding their farming niche. In addition to organic vegetables, Songbird Farm specializes in growing heirloom dry goods, like Jacob’s Cattle beans and Abenaki Flint corn, grains, and heritage wheat flour, part of a burgeoning new market in New England. The couple launched their farm business on leased land, and honed their growing skills, grew their market base, and kept an eye out for a permanent home for their farm. When a 41-acre turn-key farm in Unity was listed for sale on Maine FarmLink, they jumped at the chance to be closer to family, friends, and their Midcoast markets.

MFT purchased an easement on the farm, enabling Adam and Johanna to meet the landowner’s selling price and buy the property.

Help MFT close out our Securing a Future for Farming Campaign. Your gift to MFT means that more farmers will be able to access farmland and support services, more local food will get into the hands of Mainers who need it most, and more farmland will be protected for the future as well as available to support the growing local food economy today. Help grow the future of farming. Donate to MFT today!




Fertile Soil

People have been growing food in the upper Kennebec Valley for thousands of years. Native Americans and European settlers alike recognized that the intervale land, at the confluence of the Sandy and Kennebec Rivers, is some of the most productive land in New England. Jay Robinson, of Sweet Land Farm in Starks, says that his land “can grow anything,” boasting prime agricultural soils and southern exposure.

Now, thanks to a conservation easement, Jay’s 113 acres of rich farmland will continue to be available for farming far into the future.

When Jay bought the farm in 1978, it was being used exclusively to produce feed corn for dairy farms. Now he grows all kinds of vegetables, including the trifecta of squash, sweet corn, and beans that Native Americans had been growing for centuries. He sells through farmer’s markets and to various wholesale markets, including Good Shepherd Food Bank’s “Mainers Feeding Mainers” program.

“It’s ironic that [the region] is considered impoverished now,” Jay says. The wealth in soil doesn’t necessarily translate to feeding the area’s inhabitants, but by selling vegetables to the food bank, Jay is hoping to help change that. He says it works out well for him—he gets a stable wholesale price for his product, and doesn’t have to market, package, and deliver his goods—and the food gets to those who need it most. He’s also looking ahead to the future, participating in seed trials for Johnny’s Selected Seeds and growing specialty crops for emerging markets.

Jay is looking further into the future by helping to cultivate the next generation of farmers in the Kennebec Valley region. His farm apprenticeships provide invaluable experience for interns, and for several years he leased a portion of his land to young farmers Adam and Johanna of Songbird Farm so they could grow heritage flint corn. As the number of young farmers in Maine grows, Jay hopes more of them will put down roots in the Kennebec Valley. The landscape is slowly changing, he says: now, young farmers are interested in Waldo County, but that area is getting saturated, and they’ll start looking west. There’s a lot of prime, underutilized soil in the area, and he would like to see others take advantage of that potential.