Snakeroot Organic Farm
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Name:          Snakeroot Organic Farm

Address:      Tom Roberts & Lois Labbe

                      27 Organic Farm Road

                      Pittsfield, Maine  04967





Phone:          Tom’s cell 207-416-5417

                      Lois’s cell 207-416-5418

Products and Services:

-fresh vegetables

-fresh fruit

-fresh herbs




-dried vegetables

-dried culinary herbs

-maple syrup



-CSA program

Farmers’ Markets

Orono Farmers’ Market

Downtown Waterville Farmers’ Market

Pittsfield Farmers’ Market

Unity Farmers’ Market

Newport Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market

What Makes Snakeroot Organic Farm


Tom Roberts and Lois Labbe are great examples of that well-known tenant that experience is one of the best teachers possible.  They have a combined history of over fifty years of farming and gardening experience and this background has enabled them to develop a farm that is a showpiece of organic excellence and diversity.

Their story is a very interesting one.  They both worked at Peacemeal Farm in Dixmont and decided that they would like to own their own farm.  In 1995, they purchased what they describe as a “run-out eight-acre hayfield in the midst of seventy-four acres of partly cut-over woods” on Snakeroot Road in Pittsfield.  They began farming this land that is now called Snakeroot Organic Farm when they were fifty years old!  They were very appreciative to the mentors that helped them along the way and they have “paid it forward” in the way that they operate their farm and business practices.

When one accesses Tom and Lois’s farm

website, it is immediately apparent that they are more than willing to share information about farming with others.  They offer tips on a whole range of topics including building techniques, growing and planting garlic, drip irrigation, mulching, seed saving, and seed purchasing.

The Month by Month calendar of jobs that take place on the farm and that has been posted on the Snakeroot Organic Farm’s website is a wonderful resource for individuals starting out in farming.  It provides a realistic overview of all the jobs that must be tackled to run a farm in Maine.  Tom and Lois also send out a free electronic newsletter to several hundred subscribers.  In the newsletters they share information about what’s in season, their CSA program, various events, and opportunities for bulk buying. 

Snakeroot Organic Farm offers an impressive variety of fresh vegetables.  In addition to the traditional vegetables that one would expect at a farmers’ market, they also grow some less common veggies such as sunchokes or Jerusalem Artichokes, rutabagas, parsnips, horseradish, gobo or Japanese burdock root, boc choi, daikon radish, garlic bulbils, and celeriac.  Tomatoes are their specialty and they grow three thousand plants of thirty different types.  Their specialty tomatoes are all heirloom varieties.

When one has the opportunity to study the

Snakeroot Organic Farm website it becomes clear that Tom and Lois truly understand the concept of sharing.  They have over fifty webpages on their website that document all aspects of their farming operation.  There is a webpage with information about where they purchase their seeds and links to the seed companies and growers.  This past spring there was information about the free lupines that they were offering to individuals.  They donate a CSA share to the Maine Public Television auction and also to WERU.  On their Facebook page, they post notices about when certain vegetables can be bought in bulk so that the consumer can save quite a bit of money if they are planning on preserving the vegetables for later consumption.

Their CSA program also incorporates their generous business practices.  If an individual purchases a $100 share before April 1, they get $125 credit at a farmers’ market or at the farm.  They allow CSA members to cash checks at market and purchase items that they don’t grow from other growers at market using their CSA account.  Tom and Lois explained that allowing members to shop elsewhere on their credit builds bonds with other farmers and shows shoppers that there is cooperation among the market members.

Each year on the second Sunday in July, Tom and Lois conduct their Annual Farm Tour.  Visitors have a chance to walk through the gardens and six greenhouses and ask questions about gardening topics. Visiting their shaded vegetable washing area and their sugarhouse provides visitors with ideas about being creative and resourceful.

Mulching is a key aspect of the Snakeroot Organic Farm operation.  Tom and Lois have pledged to only use bio-degradable organic mulches.  They have built up an admirable arrangement with the town where area residents are encouraged to drop off their leaves, pine needles, and grass clippings at their compost piles.  The local electric company and the town highway department know that the chippings from trees that they have cut down or pruned can be dropped off at the farm.  To learn more about the benefits of mulching, be sure to check out Snakeroot Organic Farm’s webpage on using mulches.

Recycling is another major practice that is embraced at Snakeroot Organic Farm.  Many of the buildings have incorporated recycled wood.  The plastic trash bags that contain the leaves that people have collected and dropped off are re-used.  One of the most re-purposed creations at Snakeroot are the wonderfully creative birdhouses that they make from hollowed-out logs.   In an effort to make sure that nothing goes to waste, Tom and Lois offer canning tomatoes from the ones that are overripe or that have cosmetic defects.

Snakeroot Organic Farm ships the seeds that they sell and their dried vegetables and medicinal and culinary herbs, as well as garlic bulbs and bulbils.  They do not ship any live plants or fresh vegetables or herbs. They also do not ship the maple syrup that they make.

Tom and Lois keep busy tapping 450 trees for their maple syrup operation.  It is sold in quart bottles and available at the farm or at any of the five farmers’ markets that they attend.  It is difficult to imagine how Tom and Lois are able to participate in so many farmers markets because participating in farmers’ markets entail a great deal of effort and time loading the truck and setting up the market display and then re-loading the truck and heading home after the market is done.  Tom and Lois began the Pittsfield Farmers’ Market and have been instrumental in the establishment of several other markets and are enthusiastic supporters of outlets that promote local organic food.

Although Unique Maine Farms visited Snakeroot Organic Farm on very short notice, there was a warm welcome.  There were only a few minutes to talk before Tom headed out to set up for the Monday afternoon Pittsfield Farmers’ Market.  When asked if there was anything that he would like emphasized about his farm he responded that he would like to see the efforts of his workers and apprentices recognized.  Most of them were on lunch break at the time so photos were not possible that day, but it was gratifying to see how they were very much appreciated by Tom and Lois.

Tom and Lois’s commitment to organic farming is very clear.  They write extensively about this on their website. Their vegetables, herbs, fruits, and seedlings are all certified by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA).  Their food is purchased by vendors at the Common Ground Fair.  Their products are distributed by Crown O’Maine Organic Cooperative and Maine Harvest Link.  It is also sold at Barrels in Waterville.

Tom and Lois are farmers but they are also clearly philosophers in the way that they

tackle various issues and share their views on their website.  Some of the topics that they have discussed include “How Should a Farmer Retire?,” “Impediments to the Want-to-be Farmer,” and “Reducing the Value of the Land.”  They introduce and contemplate the idea of farming apprentices becoming partners.

What a great resource Snakeroot Organic Farm’s website is!  Tom and Lois share information about the history of Pittsfield and some of their favorite recipes.  Tom enjoys creating websites and there are links to several of the ones that he has created and even information about open source software.

Unique Maine Farms hopes to be able to

get back to Snakeroot Organic Farm and spend more time with Tom and Lois sometime in the near future to talk further about their unique farm. Their website is so comprehensive and so informative that it enables Internet visitors to acquire a clear understanding of their many offerings and the farming methods that have been carried out at Snakeroot Organic Farm.  It also illustrates how Tom and Lois have placed collaboration and sharing as foremost priorities in the way that they farm.