Most people on campus know Mike Woodruff as the director of the Bowdoin Outing Club. What some people may not know is that he and his wife, Lucretia Woodruff, also own and operate the local Milkweed Farm.

The couple originally lived in Phippsburg, Maine, but hoped to find a piece of land closer to Brunswick where they could work more closely with the Bowdoin and Brunswick communities.

“We really liked it out there, but we wanted to do more farming, grow more food,” said Mike Woodruff. “So we found this beautiful piece of land, and we decided we would buy that.”

Milkweed Farm, which occupies ten acres of land, has been in operation since 2005. The farm is supported through the sale of community-supported agriculture (CSA) shares. At the beginning of each season, the Woodruffs sell about 75 of these shares to local residents, who then recieve produce once a week for 18 weeks.

Lucretia Woodruff is the lead farmer at Milkweed, where she handles day-to-day operations like vegetable production and animal care, and oversees all apprentices. 

Around a dozen individuals from Brunswick work between two to four hours a week to pay for part of their shares. The Woodruffs have also hired multiple Bowdoin students over the past few years, including Adam Berliner ’13 and Clare Stansberry ’14.

“I worked the summer after my sophomore year,” said Berliner. “I knew that Mike had a farm and I was looking for something to do over the summer, so I called Lucretia.”

 As an apprentice, Berliner lived in a tent on the farm and worked a multitude of tasks.
“The job was everything from planting to weeding to harvesting to watering. They also had a bunch of animals. So we fed and watered those, and then processed them,” Berliner said.
Stansberry, who worked at the farm during the summer after her sophomore and senior years, said her opportunity to work at the farm came at the perfect time.

“After my sophomore year at Bowdoin I was kind of in that classic position where you really have no idea what you want, but you’ve been told to get an internship,” said Stansberry. “I went to Adam and he suggested, ‘Oh you should talk to Mike.’”

Stansberry took a year off from farm work after her initial summer, but returned when the Woodruffs asked her to expand upon what she had started.

 “I was talking to Lucretia because I had a CSA share from her. She asked, ‘How would you feel about coming back next year and taking a bigger role in the farm?’ I ended up going back to the farm this summer doing more independent work,” said Stansberry.

Stansberry feels that one of the most unique aspects of Milkweed Farm and other local farms is the sense of community and awareness that they foster.

“I think it’s important that people care about the food they’re eating and the people they’re getting it from,” said Stansberry. “It’s really easy for us to be blind to how hard it is to grow things.”

Likewise, Berliner says he gained much more than job experience from his time at Milkweed.
“The whole process of starting something in the springtime as a little seed in the ground and then actually eating it a few months later is pretty awesome,” Berliner said.

As Milkweed functions as a full farm with both vegetables and livestock, it continues to grow into a respected feature of the Brunswick community.

According to Mike Woodruff, the farm grows “every vegetable known to man that grows in the northeast.” The farm’s website lists over 70 vegetables, many of which have more that one variety.

He added, “We raise hogs. We raise turkeys for Thanksgiving. We have chickens for eggs, and some beef as well. And we have a milk cow, but that’s for personal consumption.” 

Stansberry recalled her acute awareness to the presence of the cows on the farm. She remembers starting her work at 5:50 a.m. with “the cow screaming—not like mooing, like an elephant trumpeting.” 

As autum and winter approach, Milkweed will adapt; adding operations such as making and selling pies. 

“We have an offseason for the vegetables,” said Lucretia “But we still work on the farm every day.”

The Woodruffs and their children will continue to live on the farm year-round, growing sustainable, community-supported products.