Pineland Farms
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Name:                Pineland Farms

Address:            Pineland Farms

                           15 Farm View Drive

                           New Gloucester, Maine 04260

Phone:               207-688-4539


Products and Services:

-5000-acre working farm

-Market and Welcome Center

-Dairy Farm


-Education Center


-Equestrian Center

-Online Store

-Family Programs

-Field Trips

-Picnic Area

-Birthday Parties


-Weddings & Functions

-Guest Houses

-Diverse Business Campus 

What Makes Pineland Farms Unique?

Mark Whitney, the Creamery Manager and Cheese  Maker at the Pineland Farms Creamery, was initially contacted to see if he would be interested in having a profile of the Creamery included in the Unique Maine Farms’ project. He enthusiastically agreed and he and Cheese Makers Kevin Burnsteel and Kenny Hartwell, provided a warm welcome and tour of the Creamery facility.  It was immediately apparent upon visiting the Creamery that it would be a disservice not to photograph the entire farm complex so that readers could get an idea of the major scope of Pineland Farms. 

The late Elizabeth Noyce, a well-known and respected philanthropist, was instrumental in laying the groundwork for the success of Pineland Farms. She has been credited with so many innovative Maine projects. Due to her generosity, sections of downtown Portland were revitalized; schools were endowed; and programs such as the Maine Winter Sports Center and the Maine Health Raising Readers program were introduced.  Because of Elizabeth Noyce, the Libra Foundation was established. 

Thanks to the support of the Libra Foundation, Pineland Farms became a model of agricultural excellence and proof that, with sufficient funding,  sustainable farming pursuits and diverse business operations can successfully thrive side by side sharing the same land and resources.  Visitors to Pineland Farms today have the opportunity to witness a wide assortment of businesses including medical practices, a school, consultants, a greenhouse operation, and a YMCA.

Pineland Farms was originally established in 1908 as a home for individuals who faced developmental challenges.  For many years it operated as a sustainable residential facility where the food for the clients and staff was produced right at the farm. When the focus of caring for individuals with developmental challenges moved away from traditional institutional settings, Pineland Farms was closed in 1996.

Elizabeth Noyce saw the potential that the Pineland Farms’ property offered for encouraging business

and farming.  The Libra Foundation purchased the property through its real estate branch, the October Corporation, in 2000.  Many changes have taken place at Pineland in the past thirteen years.  Quite a bit of additional land has been bought, increasing the acreage from the original purchase of 900 acres to 5000 acres.  Several buildings were renovated and new structures were erected.  Non-profit enterprises and for-profit businesses lease space from the October Corporation at Pineland Farms.

As soon as you approach the meticulously cared-for farm property, it is apparent that this is not your ordinary farm operation.  The land that constitutes the farm spans four towns including Yarmouth, New Gloucester,  Yarmouth, and Pownal.  Various agricultural enterprises have been set in place.  There is a dairy operation and separate barns for the cows, heifers, calves, poultry, and storage of the hay.  Milk from local farms, that is sold to Oakhurst, is utilized for the cheese making that takes place at the Creamery at Pineland Farms.

Unique Maine Farms had the opportunity to spend some time in the Creamery at Pineland Farms. It is the largest creamery in the state of Maine and world-renowned for its award-winning cheeses. It  specializes in handcrafting Cheddar, Sharp Cheddar, Smoked Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Onion & Garlic Jack, Salsa Jack, Three Pepper Jack, Smoked Monterey Jack, Baby Swiss, Smoked Baby Swiss, and Farmhouse Feta. Their spreadable cheese is available in five flavors:  Salsa Jack, Onion & Garlic, Baby Swiss, Bacon Swiss, Cheddar, and Horseradish Cheddar.  They also offer Fresh Cheese Curd and Farmhouse Feta Crumbles.

There is an internationally-acclaimed herd of Holstein cows that reside at Pineland Farms.  Milk for the cheese made at the Creamery at Pineland Farms is acquired from area farms to assure freshness and to support local agriculture.  The milk has no rBST  (recombinant bovine somatotropin) or rGBH (recombinant bovine growth hormone). It is placed in stainless steel holding tanks that can store up to three thousand gallons of milk until the cheese is ready to be made.

Perhaps the biggest surprise when Unique Maine Farms had the opportunity to spend some time in the Creamery, thanks to Mark, Kevin, Kenny and the staff, was learning how making cheese involves significantly more precise and time-consuming steps than ever originally imagined. A considerable amount of hard work and muscle power is required!  On the day of the visit, the Production crew was making Onion Garlic Monterey Jack cheese.

The cold fresh locally-sourced milk that was used to make the cheese had been pasteurized to eradicate any harmful bacteria.  It then filled one of the vats which can hold one thousand gallons of milk.  Kenny Hartwell, the Lead Cheese Maker,  added cultures to the milk which resulted in the milk thickening into curds.  Mechanized knives called “harps” cut through the curd and enabled the liquid whey to separate from the curd.  During the entire process the crew shoveled and turned the curd.  It took great strength and endurance to continue with these repetitive motions for such an extended period of time and there was no idle time for Kenny, Ryan, Trevor, Duane, or Adam.

The temperature, ph, and titratable acidity were constantly monitored throughout the process.

When a sufficient amount of whey had been extracted, the remaining curd was filled into metal containers called hoops. Each hoop was weighed so that it was approximately sixty-two pounds.  The hoops were stacked on top of each other and with the hydraulic press any remaining whey was squeezed out. The whey does not go to waste.  It is collected in storage tanks and sprayed on pastures and hayfields to enrich the grass and hay that are fed to the cows.

Pineland Farms prides itself on making cheese by hand unlike other large cheese companies that rely on large amounts of automated equipment to prepare and mix the cheese.  For mechanization, they only incorporate the use of harps (knives that cut through the curds) and a press to extract the excess whey.  Kevin explained that in their hands-on approach the cheese maker and the crew are fully engaged in the process and are able to directly monitor the texture, seasonings, and flavor. 

After the production of the cheese is completed, several other steps take place.  The ensuing process depends on the specific variety of the cheese.  The curd of Swiss and Feta cheese is soaked in tanks of salt water until the correct amount of salt is absorbed. Many cheeses need to age.  Cheese that ages for longer periods of time translate into stronger cheese. Some of the sharpest cheddars made by Pineland Farms age for a few years.  The mild Monterey Jack cheese can complete its aging process in just two months.  When the cheese is ready to be sold, it is brought to the packaging room where it is cut into

appropriate sizes and wrapped.  The final step before heading to market involves labeling the cheese.

Pineland Farms cheese is sold in thirty-eight states and in the District of Columbia.  It is available in many stores, restaurants, and military commissaries. If you access the Creamery’s Awards webpage on the Unique Maine Farms’ website, you will see an impressive listing of all the awards that their cheeses have earned.  Pineland Farms has been recognized at the American Cheese Society’s competitions in Wisconsin, the Los Angeles International Dairy Competition, and the Big E Gold Medal Cheese Competition.

Visitors to Pineland Farms who wish to learn more about the Creamery are welcome to view the operation through the self-guided tour that is displayed near the observation windows.  Education is a top priority at Pineland Farms.  An Education Center offers various programs including Friday morning sessions where children can help collect eggs, milk a cow, and feed the farmyard animals. 

Field trips and birthday parties are organized by the Education Center. Classes are offered in such topics as making ice cream, birds of prey, salsa making, tractors, and green gardening practices.

A world-renowned Equestrian Center is situated down the road at Pineland Farms.  Various recreational activities are offered at Pineland Farms including hiking, cross country skiing, mountain biking, fishing, sledding, and skating.  There are ponds, tennis courts, and guest houses on the property.  Many weddings take place at Pineland Farms.

If you have never stopped by The Market at Pineland Farms, make sure to schedule a trip.  There is a large assortment of items produced or grown on the farm or at local farms.  There is also an extensive menu at the Dish Cafe.

Unique Maine Farms was so occupied taking in all the beautiful scenery at the farm and spending several hours at the Creamery that the option of visiting the public garden at Pineland Farms was completely overlooked.  Since their one-acre garden was named one of the top-ten favorite public gardens in Maine, it looks like a return visit to Pineland Farms is definitely in the works.  If you decide to check out Pineland Farms in the future, be sure to leave plenty of time as it is a farm that offers so much to enjoy.