April 2020 (Week 2) Newsletter (COVID-19)

Bristol Notes - April (Week 2) 2020 

For the Bristol Selectmen:

Chris Hall, Town Administrator

Keeping our nerve

There is one more confirmed case of Covid-19 in Lincoln County over the last week, as of today, Thursday, April 9th, for a total of nine, but five of these people have recovered. 269 of Maine’s 560 confirmed cases on Thursday (48%) were in Cumberland County, but the fastest growth is occurring in York County. We still have no official announcement that ‘community transmission’ is occurring in Lincoln County.

In Bristol we are living under the unprecedented stay-at-home order, with most residents respecting the Emergency Proclamation banning all non-essential movements. From my window at the Town Office, I’d estimate that traffic on Route 130 is down by more than half. It’s interesting to watch the ‘essential services’ deliveries continuing as usual – trucks making deliveries to Masters Machine (our largest employer is continuing to work, with appropriate precautions), groceries to Reilly’s, or collecting our trash from the Transfer Station. The supply chain is holding up remarkably well, for the time being. Hoarding behavior has slackened off: there’s a limit to how much toilet paper we can store at home!

From informal counts by Bristol Fire & Rescue, maintenance contractors and others, it appears that less than half of Bristol’s part-year residents have returned. Some ‘snowbirds’ have put off their customary return in April from Florida, but others have come early and are observing the 14-day quarantine required (no trips to the grocery store or walks on the beach!). There have been and always will be exceptions, but it appears for the most part that Bristol residents are ‘doing the right thing’ and protecting themselves and their neighbors. That is borne out by the graph on page 2, prepared by Pemaquid Point’s Alfred Ajami, which shows that Lincoln County is doing well to date compared to Maine as a whole, and that Maine is in much better shape than neighboring states and the US average. 

Ajami Graph

The smaller insert graph shows, in log scale, that the exponential disease incidence curves – growth in the number of total cases – are flattening out. We are not over the top of the curve yet, but it may be in sight if everyone maintains their nerve (and precautions).

One particular request for caution: don’t get close to other people if you walk on the beach or at the lighthouse park – or the Town will have to close the parks.

Supporting local food sources

In addition to Reilly’s market, King Ro, and the gas stations, Bristol has a number of places to get fresh local food.

Look out for signs along the main roads offering eggs, clams or lobsters. These pop up and are taken down according to availability; no point in trying to list them all.

Bristol shares in Maine’s remarkable boom in new farms, many of them organic and with young or young at heart people pioneering new crops for new markets and new techniques for old crops. If you want to keep your grocery dollars local, here are four Bristol farms that can supply fresh food for part of your grocery list:

  • High Hopes Farm was the pioneer of Bristol’s new wave of farming. Since ‘local kids’ Meaghan and Ross Nichols bought the farm in 2016 (777 Bristol Road, just south of the Walpole Meeting House Road), their animals have been a popular sight on Route 130. Farm hours: Monday-Saturday 9-5; Sunday 9-2. Ross and Meaghan ask: “please call, email, or text before you come so we can prepare meat and vegetable orders and deliver to the farm stand for folks to pick up. Call or text 380-3197, or email to: [email protected]

Produce includes forest raised pork and pasture raised lamb. All cuts are available, for roasts, ribs, tenderloin, chops, ground, sausages, bacon, etc.; and also grass fed ground beef. The veggie harvest started on Tuesday, with radishes, baby spinach and arugula, and bok choy coming next week. Meaghan picks veggies daily in the morning, for collection in the afternoon. It doesn’t get any fresher than that! Eggs and veggies are priced to be competitive with Hannaford’s.

  • Pemaquid Falls Farm is a diversified vegetable farm and market located at the mouth of the Pemaquid River (2117 Bristol Road, across from the library). Farmer Alex Beaudet grows over 100 varieties of vegetables, herbs, fruit, and flowers using organic inputs and practices. They also raise laying hens on pasture for eggs.

Their produce, and other products from small Maine farms – grains, honey, syrup, jams, dairy, meat, etc. – are available through a CSA program, their on-site farm store, and a self-service stand. Normal hours are Tuesday-Sunday from 10am-6pm. There is also an online market that can be shopped from home for no-contact pickup at the farm. More information can be found on their website (www.pemaquidfallsfarm.com ), Facebook, and Instagram.

Alex says, "If you have any questions, please feel free to email us or stop by and say hello! We consider it a privilege to help feed our community, and thank you for the opportunity to be your local farmers!"

  • The Byre at Piper’s Pond is a small diversified farm located on Rock School House Road just off the Upper Round Pond Road. Owners Helen Costello and Jeffrey Patterson sell eggs year round and vegetables/flowers/herbs from mid-June through October. Micro-greens are available through the end of May. They write: “You can order a holiday goose in June. We are reclaiming old pasture to have sheep and Scottish Highland cattle in 2021.

“Until the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted the farm encourages ‘touchless’ sales. We have an online store on our Facebook page, ‘The Byre at Piper’s Pond,’ for orders to pick up on our porch or we will deliver in Bristol/South Bristol/Bremen/Damariscotta. We are also in the process of setting up to accept SNAP EBT cards. The Byre was allocated 20 Maine Senior Farm Shares. If you know of seniors with low incomes in the area please have them contact us to sign up to receive $50 per person per season of fresh vegetables and honey for free. Please call or check the Facebook page to order or check availability of product. (207) 529-5639 (between 7am and 7 pm every day).”

  • Broad Arrow Farm is both a farm and a Farm Market with a commercial kitchen, on Benner Road in Bristol Mills Village (just 200 yards behind and across the river from the historic Masonic Hall). This represents a major investment in organic foods, and will be a growing part of Bristol’s food ecosystem. The Farm Market carries items both from Broad Arrow and other Maine farms and food producers, including fresh and frozen meats and poultry, sausages, charcuterie, eggs (both hen and duck), organic milk from Straw’s Farm in Newcastle, and a varied selection of Maine cheeses. There is also a wide range of prepared foods, including suppers and sides, soups, stews and chilis.

Broad Arrow’s chef, Omen Eagle Viele, has experience in some of Maine’s best restaurants, including Fore Street and 555 Congress. He has introduced a growing range of prepared foods and meals to take home, heat and eat through their Suppah Club – details on the web site.

Open: Tues. through Sundays, 10 am to 6 pm, or online: www.broadarrowfarm.com

‘April is the Cruelest Month’ (T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land)

This is always the worst time of year for the many families who depend on seasonal income from fishing, hospitality or retailing, and live through the winter on their savings from last summer. To the uncertainty of livelihoods linked to the next tourism and lobstering seasons, this year the pandemic has cast its black shadow over prospects for the summer season. So far, the Town is only seeing a slow trickle of hardship cases: but how long will those savings last?

Since my last email, the donations received by the Town to the ‘Worthy Poor’ fund have more than doubled, to $6,800. Very many thanks to 29 generous people. Donations to the Town of Bristol are tax-deductible in the same way as donations to IRS-recognized private non-profits.

Talking Trash

Hanley Construction continues work on a number of construction projects around the peninsula, following the State ruling that construction is an essential business. As their trucks are out on Bristol’s roads all the time, Stewart Hanley has made the generous offer of having their crews stop to pick up trash to take to the Transfer Station for any persons quarantined or otherwise housebound.

If you are housebound and need a trash pickup, please call or email to the Town Office to make arrangements. Important rules:

  • Trash should be in tied bags, and left outside somewhere clearly visible and accessible from the road.
  • Sorry, no recyclables pickups at this time – we are trying to limit the amount of sorting and contact at the Transfer Station.

For more information on any of the matters touched on in this report, please email Chris Hall at [email protected]. Thank you for reading!