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Honestly, I had no intention of delaying my report on Shamrock Farms until nearly St Patrick’s Day, but since I have, I will call attention to the proclivity of the Hamel clan to indulge in excessive seasonal decoration, evident in the sculpted-styrofoam igloo-with-polar-bears scene that was still on display in their front yard when Elian and I pulled up to visit way back in early January. Inside the house were a few vestiges of their 14 themed Christmas tree exhibit. I invite the Hamel’s, or anyone else, to send a photo of what they may have put out for the rapidly-approaching mid-March Fest. My grayish January photographs do not appear too far out of season thanks to the sustained late-winter chill we are having.. Photographing farms in winter in a flattering fashion can be difficult; sort of like asking someone to sit for a portrait before breakfast. For greener pictures of Shamrock Farms see their CAFÉ Growers page http://cafe.locallygrown.net/photos/index/3892.
Like the clover-leaf suggested in their farm’s name, the Hamels of Shamrock Farms: Bob, Pat, and Rob; can be viewed as a (secular) trinity of sorts, each having her/his own unique talents that they employ in bringing to life so much great food and good will from their rather unassuming, semi-suburban, oversized lot in Abbeville. Let me quickly characterize (incompletely and selectively) each of them in a way that I hope will enhance your appreciation of their fine products:
PATRICIA HAMEL: ancestors from Lithuania and Ireland – sources of unique family heirloom seeds – grew up in NYC – ran a catering business and cooked for family-run country inn – amazing baker but they don’t have a certified kitchen – adds the flare to the seasonal decorating
ROBERT (“BOB”) HAMEL: ancestors French – grew up in ME – worked for a seed breeder in the early stages of genetic engineering – in his own gardens, by contrast, he has always used heirloom seeds and without poisonous chemicals – jack-of all trades for the country inn – has amazing wood shop – an excellent New England craftsman – carved igloo and polar bears (pictured) out of recycled styrofoam crates.
ROBERT (“ROB”) HAMEL: son of Pat and Bob – grew up in CT, then ME – worked in marine biology – learned bartending – sailor – artisan woodworker – skilled gardener – AWARD WINNING VINTNER (sorry, not available thru CAFÉ).
In Abbeville since 2001 – they relocated here from FL following a traumatic semi-truck accident which disabled both Bob and Rob – they have been gardening and interacting with their land and community in various individual ways ever since – creating the great products they share with us.
In Pat’s words:
“We sold at the Abbeville Farmer’s market for 3 years until they allowed many non farmers to sell there. We grew everything we sold and to have to compete with people that buy from state markets to resell as their own is not where we want to be. These re-sellers don’t even have a garden and yet they sell as farmers. We now sell from our farm and on CAFE as well as to a few restaurants. We are a small family farm and really love being able to provide really fresh and safe to eat produce for our customers. We only use the very best seeds if we purchase any they are organic and heirloom it is our goal to bring back the old plants that many have forgotten ! Heirloom seeds are much harder to get and grow they have lower germination rates and are not immune to anything like the hybrids are but we feel it is worth the effort so that everyone can enjoy that fantastic old world flavor that has been lost over the years ! Our irrigation system required several years to design and is a drip system using very little water but maximizing its distribution . Overall we follow the old ways in the garden such as use whats natural grass clippings , wood chips, sawdust, leaves and winter over crops to add nutrients back in the soil.”
They may have exotic and cosmopolitan credentials but no household offers greater Southern hospitality than the Hamels’. Elian and I were both treated to cups of tea and sips of wine, and then sent home with a loaf of Lithuanian raisin bread to share with our families. As tight a family as a family-farm could ever find, we thank the Hamel’s of Shamrock for fusing their individual talents and continental/Celtic/New England influences in ways that greatly enhance our Market.
Stay lucky! Lance
Market still open until noon!
See photos on our Facebook page.