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More in Business
Celebration at A Wrinkle in Thyme Farm
SUMNER – Mary Ann Haxton and Marty Elkin, partners in life and co-owners of A Wrinkle in Thyme Farm, recently held a Celebration and Open House.
The couple purchased their property in June of 1995, which included a 30-acre farm dating back to the 1850s. Haxton and Elkin began farming two years later.
“We have 35 sheep, five angora goats, laying hens, a draft horse, a border collie and two cats,” said Elkin. “Our sheep and goats generate about 100 pounds of wool each year, which is processed into roving for felting and to spin and natural-colored and hand-dyed yarns.”
The couple also gather and split sap wood for producing maple syrup, as well as firewood for their wood stoves.
Recently the couple received two grants from the Rural Energy Assistance Program (REAP).
The first was from Farms for the Future, a Maine program that supports the growth and sustainability of small farms, both in Phase One with business planning, and in Phase Two with implementing the plan.
A planning team was implemented, including three members; Anne Gass, who is highly experienced in breeding sheep; Rose Creps, a small business development counselor; and Kate Chesley, architect.
“This team provided ongoing support for the development of the plan,” explained Elkin. “This included improvement of the flock of sheep for wool and meat production, building a pole barn for equipment storage and winter sheep feeding, and planning the Tesseract Fiber Building, which houses a learning center for fiber arts and fiber processing, a dye kitchen, equipment for washing, picking and carding our wool and mohair, and the farm store.”
“Also, through an application to Natural Resource Conservation Service, we will receive cost share funds to expand fenced pasture,” added Haxton. “It will include a winter watering system and a more efficient summer watering system.”
Once the Tesseract Fiber Building was completed, the couple decided to have a day of celebration and approximately 150 people attended the event.
“We wanted to celebrate the completion of the Tesseract fiber building,” said Elkin.
“And we wanted to express our appreciation to the folks in our fiber community,” added Haxton. “They have been so supportive of our projects and business.”
A tour of the farm's operations included the solar energy room and wool-processing equipment, displays of local-made fiber arts, viewing of the dye kitchen, the beginnings of the new watering system and the beginnings of the new sugarhouse, which is being constructed and expected to be completed in time for the next maple season.
The open house also included an incredible display of fiber art using natural materials from Maine. The attending public got the chance to vote on their favorite pieces in seven categories.
“The best of show award went to Brenda Ellis Sauro of the Painted Mermaid in South Paris for her hooked rug titled Moonlit Lovers,” said Haxton. “Many expressed the sentiment that every entry in the showcase deserved an award and some votes were cast for items on display that were not even part of the showcase!”
Members of the Fiber Alliance demonstrated picking and hand carding of wool and hand spinning.
Mark Swiedom, a Fiber Alliance member, taught several children how to spin.
“It was wonderful to see the way the children responded eagerly to the fiber experiences,” said Elkin. “Several, smaller children stood in line repeatedly to help make a ball of yarn using a ball winder and swift, while some teens knitted sitting cross legged on the braided rug.”
“The dye kitchen had a display of natural dyed yarns and acid dyed yarns,” added Elkin. “And many visitors expressed interest in future workshops including basic needle felting, processing wool, Nuno felting a silk scarf, and dyeing wool.”
According to Elkin and Haxton the celebration and open house was a huge success.
“We met wonderful families interested in sheep and fiber,” smiled Haxton. “They now know what we offer, where our farm is located, and what a beautiful area we live in.”
The couple feels great support from the local community, neighbors and vendors.
“Our Tuesday afternoon knitting group and the Fiber Alliance members helped with many aspects of the setup and readying the space,” explained Elkin. “They served as hostesses and many of our fiber community offered hours of help in preparing for the Showcase.”
“Even our neighbors helped prepare food for the event!” added Haxton. “We were also supported by the vendors (local farmers and business owners) who participated in a farmers’ market in the barn on a very windy, chilly day.”
“We plan for this to be an annual event!” exclaimed Elkin.
OPEN HOUSE – Marty Elkin and Mary Ellen Haxton, standing, center and right, recently held a celebration and open house at A Wrinkle in Thyme Farm in Sumner. The couple recently was awarded two grants to make improvements to the farm. Others joining, seated from left, include Ann Gass and Rose Creps and, standing, left, Stephanie Gilbert.