Monday, December 23, 2013

Mike Marini's Love For Family, Farming and Life

There is no doubt Mike Marini is happiest being with his family on the farm, and he wants his three children to experience the same work and family values he did growing up on the farm. Mike Marini is in action many mornings hours before sunrise, and continues to work until dusk, which can be a fifteen plus hour day, but every step he takes he realizes how fortunate he is to be able to provide his children with the same amazing childhood he experienced living on the farm.  His children are at home on the farm following their dad from field to field and greenhouse to greenhouse, learning the Marini farm culture along the way.
We recently did a short interview with Mike Marini so people could learn about what farm life and raising a family on the farm meant to Mike. It is clear Mike is in awe with the beauty and abundance of farm life and providing a good quality of life to those around him.

What is the best thing a customer has ever said about you?

At a recent children’s birthday party at the farm, a mother said “I watch how you interact with your kids and can see you were meant to be a dad.”

What three words describe you best?

Hard-working, motivated and passionate

What things would you never change about your job?

Nothing! I am doing what I love to do and am happy doing it every day all year round! I learn from the environmental, social and economic challenges local farming presents and know I can always improve upon the quality of the produce I am producing. I am driven by the opportunity to continue to create a better system.

What motto do you operate by?

I learned early on from my father, Mario, that nothing should ever get me down. Every day brings new challenges, new achievements and new successes, all of which I learn a lot from. Taking on new challenges makes us stronger, more confident and more aware of alternative management practices.

What is your favorite vegetable to plant?
Field house and greenhouse tomatoes as they are important with everything we do.

What is your favorite event to do when you are not farming?

When I am not farming, I would rather be with my kids and family on vacation at Disney World. I love creating new family memories.

Walk us through a typical day at the farm…

The business is so seasonal and is always changing, so no two days are alike. New challenges and new accomplishments happen every day, but I love the thrill of making things better. Some days, like when I have market deliveries, I am up at 4:00 AM, and in the summer I am in the fields at 6:00 AM and stay until dusk. The work is never done and new goals are set at the start of every day.

What motivates you?

I love seeing the results with a fresh crop of corn and tomatoes and stand back and see what I have accomplished. I see the seeds grow into crops and see the clients enjoying the beauty and bounty of the produce we bring to market. It is rewarding seeing the excitement generated over the first corn of the season or the first picked field house tomatoes. I like seeing people better informed as to the importance of fresh food in their life.

If someone met you, they probably would never guess…

I have three kids and never ate vegetables until I was in my 20’s.

What is your #1 pet peeve?

When I see jobs that are half done. I like to see projects getting completed and see consistent progress being made. It drives me crazy when I am surrounded by jobs that are half finished.

When you are not working you are most likely to…

go to the gym and do cardio and weight lifting. I just love working out and getting stronger, so being healthy and fit are big priorities of mine.

What is one thing everyone can do to create a better, stronger food system?

Support the local food movement. It helps our food security. It helps our own health. It helps our local businesses, restaurants, farmers and community.

What is your favorite vegetable?

Asparagus cooked all different ways.

What is the best thing about farming?

No two days are ever the same and the best thing about farming, is that it is always changing. There is no time to ever be bored with my job.

What has been your biggest achievement?

My biggest achievement has been keeping the third-generation family farm going. I have had to be creative and develop ways to control the costs of production and adopted a diverse farming culture. It is a lot of blood, sweat and tears, but the rewards are staring at me each and every day.

There is no doubt Marini feels he has the best job in the world and is passionate about connecting us all to the abundance and beauty of farming. Learning from his dad's work philosophy to "take things as they come and roll with the punches, enables him to embrace each day with confidence, passion and commitment. As Marini knows, the skies can turn dark, but the earth has immense power to renew itself, to heal, and to give abundantly, and this more than anything is what gets him out of bed before the sun every day.

Written by Lightning Consulting

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Marini Farm Corn Maze Has Miles of Thanks!

The 2013 corn maze, “T-Rex on the Loose”, had a record number of maze travelers this season. Marini is also happy to report that the maze received a 95% approval rating through Groupon from the surveys customers completed. One comment, “it was a great educational experience”, was the type of comment we love to hear as education is a key focus of the overall maze experience.

From selecting the maze design to selling the last ticket on November 2nd, the maze management is an eight-month process. Our maze team makes it all happen! They booked parties, schools and outings, blew up the inflatables, supervised the maze on the bridges and pathways, sold tickets, organized all the marketing and sponsorship relationships, supported the social media activities, managed the maintenance, kept everyone heading in the right direction, and provided educational programs about dinosaurs and the farm. Our daily operations staff successfully managed the process with crowds which could reach as many as 2,000 per day. Tracy Hamilton, the maze manager, was responsible for hiring the maze staff, organizing the work schedules and overseeing the day-to-day operation for the 55 days the maze was open. With thirty guides involved in the process, it can be a busy job juggling the schedule to make sure there are people in position on the lookout bridges and throughout the maze’s ten miles of pathways to guide people in the right direction.We are so appreciative of Tracy, and her staff for making the 2013 maze season a stellar season!

Kim Marini, was busy in the months before opening and during the season, booking field trips for schools, scouts, corporate, church groups, scheduling birthday parties and special outings, and taking reservations for our special events. As a result, this season had more first time visitors, had groups of all sizes booking outings and had visitors coming from greater distances to conquer the maze.

Each year our mission is to add to the maze park attractions, and in 2014 we have some new structures which will add more excitement to the interactive experience. This was our first year having a rock concert event, and next season we will plan additional entertainment programs and events.

Our staff has fun making you have fun! In the next two months we will be selecting our design for the 2014 maze and would love to hear your suggestions. Thanks again to all our customers, staff and sponsors for making “T-Rex on the Loose” the giant of all maze seasons!

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Marini Corn Maze Park is Growing!

The maze park is action packed! Reach great heights on the 70-foot jumping pillow, search for hidden dinosaur bones in the corn house and slide down and explore inside the giant inflatables. As you enter the corn maze park, you can hear the swish of the balls being sunk in the basketball inflatable, the boing of kids rebounding in all directions off the jumping pillow, and the rubbing of the corn stalks as people second guess their route in the 10-acre corn maze.

Make it a family outing and stay for the day. The Marini Park Corn Maze Park continues to expand with new fun activities and outdoor attractions for all ages. This year the farm pushed back the maze by 100 feet to make room for the giant inflatables and maze park.
The Corn Maze Park now includes the following attractions:

  • Gigantic 70-foot jumping pillow
  • Corn house
  • Basketball inflatable
  • 5-in-1 Princess house
  • Disney inflatable
  • Sand lot
  • Rope maze
  • Tile maze
  • Finger Fortune Maze
  • Tunnel play structure
  • Car spot inflatable with slide
  • Mickey Mouse jump
  • Duck races
  • Trick or treat hayrides
  • Concession stand
  • Pumpkin patch
  • Flashlight nights
  • Special entertainment concert event (scheduled for October 20th)

Not ready to take the challenge of our 10-acre maze? The smaller 1-acre version of our corn maze and rope maze are great for younger maze explorers or first timers!

Come experience the bountiful harvest spirit and excitement at Marini Farm from now until November 2, 2013! For information on special events and attractions please visit our website.

We would love to see your photos and hear about your thoughts on your experience at our Corn Maze & Family Fun Park on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Written by Lightning Consulting

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Marini Farm Hosts Anti-Bullying Awareness Concert Event

Marini Farm brings music to farm in recognition of national anti-bullying month. The corn fields will be alive with music on October 20th for a special anti-bullying concert event. Spookley the Square Pumpkin, the official “Spokes Pumpkin” for National Bullying Prevention Month is present at the farm. Thousands of students across the country and Spookley will join forces to send an important very large orange message of support to students who have been bullied. A large inflatable Spookley greets maze visitors as they enter the maze park. The book, The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin, is the story about a very special little pumpkin who teaches children that you can't judge a book, or a pumpkin, by its cover, and how being different is okay and how we shouldn’t tease others. Spookley invites you to “Dare to Be Square” and embrace the beauty of being different!

At the Marini Farm concert event, young performers will take the stage and perform their original anti-bullying songs along with other popular pop/rock music. Headliner, p.o.p. ALERT, will do a two-hour concert event which will include other solo performers who work hard to support anti-bullying programs. The “p.o.p.” in their band name represents the “power of people.”  This teen band is dedicated to anti-bullying awareness and prevention. They have performed to over 10,000 students at anti-bullying events in NY and New England, and they also support several other children’s charities.

p.o.p.ALERT is a co-ed band with layers of raw talent, rare vocal depth and fresh energy that attracts audiences of all ages. They are a five-member Boston based teen power-pop/alternative rock band comprised of four boys and one girl; Cameron, Johnny, Jesse, Alex, and Rachel. They range in age from 13 to 18. The band is female fronted, has two backup vocalists, and four award-winning musicians. The band was formed in November 2011 from an open audition process which attracted the best of the best teen performers from the greater New England area. The objective was to form a band which had male and female vocal depth, strong and well-balanced musicality, and be in a standalone class for its extreme raw talent. Since they started, they have performed in over fifty engagements and have been nominated for many music awards.

Under the guidance of their Manager, Patty Duffey, owner of The Young Performers Club and Music On & Up, they will be positioned to rise up the charts as a top co-ed teen pop/rock group. The music is upbeat teen rock/pop songs with a bit of country spark. Also, working with the band as their Music Director is Marc Delcore, who is also Brittany Spears Music Director.  As the management team says, “This is raw talent all together!”  The band breathes a fresh new style and teen class to the pop/rock music scene.

They have also been nominated for numerous industry awards for their anti-bullying song, “I Don’t Deserve It”, and recently released a follow-up song, “One Day”, which provides the message that positive thinking can make a difference. At the concert event the band will debut their newest song, “High Five”, also an inspirational and positive energy song. They work with top industry writers and producers and will be adding several new originals in the coming months. They were awarded the Limelight Magazine “Breakthrough Artist of the Year” in 2013. Recently, The Bully Movie nominated them as “Upstander of the Week” for their dedication to supporting anti-bullying programs and spreading their message with their music and videos.

The concert event starts at 11:00 AM on October 20th in the corn maze park area next to the anti-bullying mascot, the square orange pumpkin Spookley. Marini has participated in the globally-recognized Spookley the Square Pumpkin bullying prevention program for the last several years. Stop by and dance, sing and breathe in the fresh fall air at this interactive concert event. Prizes will be provided for dance contests and other fun contests organized by the band.  To learn more about the concert headliner, p.o.p. ALERT, visit their social sites below:




Wednesday, September 25, 2013

T-Rex Is On The Loose at The Marini Farm Corn Maze

The cornfields are buzzing with activity and fall spirit at Marini Farm! On September 7, 2013 Marini Farm opened its 11th corn maze, “T-Rex on the Loose.” The new maze design which features the giant of all dinosaurs, T-Rex, challenges seasonal maze travelers with winding pathways that create directional confusion. Each year the number of visitors grows, new activities are added and new and exciting maze challenges presented. This year the farm pushed the maze back 100 feet and made room for the new maze park which is a great gathering spot for families. The new maze park includes duck racing, a kid’s corn box, hayrides, apple cannon, inflatables and a large rope maze. “Our goal is for families to have a great experience and leave our farm happy. We hope they share their pictures and memories with their friends and family,” stresses Mike Marini, owner/operator.

Top twenty things to know about the Marini Farm corn maze:
  • The maze was just rated the 4th best maze in the country by Family Travel Files
  • It is one of the largest corn mazes in MA at 10 acres and 10 miles of pathways, and this is the 11 year anniversary for the maze
  • It takes 6 hours to cut the corn maze, depending on the complexity of the maze design, and it is done through GPS mapping technology which is placed on the tractor
  • They have spotter flags to help people maneuver the maze and get some directional help
  • The maze gets over 10,000 visitors each maze season
  • The 2013 maze opened on 9/7 and closes on 11/2
  • This is the first season the maze is opened 7 days a week for a total of 46 hours
  • The 2013 design, “T-Rex on the Loose”, is of a life size T-Rex with a baby on his back
  • The average time to get through the maze is 2 hours, and the best time recorded is 1 hour
  • The maze is designed to be both educational and interactive, with about 20 clue stations (all about dinosaurs)  strategically placed throughout the labyrinth to help adventurers conquer the nearly 10 miles of paths.
  • Flashlight nights started Sept. 20th (every Fri./Sat. night) from 6:00 PM-10:30 PM
  • The maze opened with Doggy Days (all dogs free) on September 7/8. Donations were provided the local Ipswich Humane Society
  • The Maze was cut July 5th in just six hours and each intricate cut was made by a GPS system.
  • Every season we try to make our mazes challenging enough to make it difficult to navigate, however, not so challenging that you give up.
  • The maze is a carnival of activities for all ages and has inflatables, a finger fortune maze, sand tunnel, duck races, a rope maze and corn box
  • Each winter during dinner the family bounces ideas off each other until they agree on a creative theme for the upcoming season
  • The corn maze is the Farm’s biggest annual event
  • This is the first year they have had national beverage companies (Polar Cola, Honest Tea) provide product samplings.
  • Marini Farm is an official participant in the globally-recognized Spookley the Square Pumpkin bullying prevention program.

Marini would like to thank the 2013 “T-Rex on the Loose” sponsors:

Roof Lizard Sponsors: Sorrento Dental, Honest Tea, Dairy Queen of Ipswich, Pomodori, Polar Beverages, and Ipswich Ale Brewery.

Dino-Bird Sponsors: Ipswich Country Club, Ipswich YMCA, North Shore Kids, Ipswich Ale Brewery, Dr. Edmund Goolsby, Pingree School, Chrissie's Cafe and the First National Bank of Ipswich.

We will be having some online and onsite maze contests for two special prizes donated by Ipswich Country Club and the Ipswich YMCA. STAY CONNECTED ON THE FACEBOOK PAGES TO LEARN ABOUT HOW TO PARTICIPATE.

Answers to questions like “Which body part made dinosaurs faster than reptiles?”  will provide maze visitors with clues to advance to the next location in the maze. So make sure you study up on your dinosaur history and facts to save some valuable time.

No better spot to celebrate the spirit of autumn! Come and make a day of it and take a hayride, pick up your pumpkins and mums, cruise the maze and relax and enjoy the beauty and splendor of fall.Tickets are $10.95 for the maze park daytime admission and $12.95 for flashlight nights.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Marini Farm is Crazy For Corn

New England harvested corn is “one of the best aspects of summer”, as posted on Facebook by an excited customer. Corn is not only an iconic Southern food; it’s All-American. A great deal of our country’s industry surrounds the vegetable, and its byproducts can be found in millions of products lining grocery store shelves. When Marini Farm thinks of corn, they imagine the buttery juices dribbling down your wrists, the old-fashioned miniature plastic corn forks jauntily stabbed into the ends of the cob, and bacon fat melting in the cast-iron skillet, ready to receive freshly cut, milky kernels for creamed corn. 

The Corn Harvest is in full swing! Each day overflowing bushels of corn come from the crops to our farm stand and are ready for your grills and dinner tables. Luckily, the recent heat wave that had been baking the region didn’t pop our corn, so the harvest is thriving and ready-to-pick.  Marini Farm grows over 10 tons of corn each year, and with Mario Marini’s 50 years of experience in the field, the farm can confidently bring you some of the best and sweetest corn the North Shore has to offer. The farm wants the recognition of having the best eating quality corn around.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture report, the nation’s farmers will harvest a record 14.4 billion bushels of corn this year from 96 million acres.

The farm stand offers 10 varieties of corn from over 200 acres of land that is picked fresh seven days a week. The newest variety “Allure” is currently being picked and is getting great customer reviews for its sweetness and juicy tenderness with crisp kernels popping off the cobs. By planting 20 of our 200 acres under plastic, we are able to expedite the growth and begin the harvest season earlier, while the remaining acres keep our farm piled high with fresh corn throughout the summer. Any day old corn from the stand is sold to the wholesale market so that our stand may start fresh each day. Marini does not grow genetically modified organism (GMO) corn and is always focused on healthy harvesting options.

Over the years varieties have gotten sweeter and the farm is always adding varieties looking for corn with the best eating quality possible. They are also happy to announce that the corn table has been moved to under a tent, which really gives you more space to see all the produce and explore everything the farm stand has to offer this summer, including:

• Corn
• Hot House tomatoes
• Pickling cucumbers
• Summer squash
• Beets
• Kale
• Swiss chard
• Spinach
• Beans
• Peas
• Lettuce
• Strawberries
• Zucchini

A question was posted on Facebook to obtain feedback from customers on their reaction to the new location for the corn bin and 36 responses were posted that were in favor of the new location. As one customer commented, “It is much easier to shuck now and I don't feel like I'm in the way, especially with my kids helping.” Many also commented on how it eases up the rest of the stand so people see what else is there. The first corn Facebook posts of the season received 9,188 views and many customers stated they were excited to “fire up the grill.”

Be sure to try out some of our favorite corn recipes which follow below. 


Loaded Corn Chowder  

3 chicken breasts baked and cut into pieces 
8 ears of corn cooked and shaved off the cob
2 cups of cubed red bliss potatoes
10 cups of water
3 pouches of Herb Ox chicken bouillon
3 tablespoons of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing (dry)
1 cup of celery, chopped
1 leek sliced
1 onion chopped
1 bunch of green onions sliced
6 pieces of cooked bacon chopped
1/4 cup of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh parsley
1 cup of heavy cream 


      1. Sauté chopped vegetables in olive oil

      2. Add water, chicken, potatoes, corn, bacon and seasonings

      3. Simmer for 30 minutes on low

      4. Add heavy cream and stir lightly

      5. Before serving top off with more bacon pieces 

Summer CSA Salad with Red Wine Tomato Vinaigrette:

For the dressing:
  • 1 vine-ripened tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of prepared mustard
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
For the salad:
  • 1 small head of lettuce, torn and washed
  • 4 cups of green beans, trimmed
  • Kernels from 1 ear of corn (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced

     1. First, make the dressing. Puree tomato in a food processor until liquefied.

     2. Add remaining dressing ingredients and blend again until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

     3. Next, quickly blanch the green beans. Bring a pot of water to a boil and prepare an ice bath – a large bowl with ice cubes and cold water. Add green beans to boiling water and simmer for 2-3 minutes, until bright green. Drain and immediately plunge green beans into ice bath.

     4. Let sit for several minutes before draining the cold water and removing the ice cubes.

     5. Finally, layer the salad ingredients in a serving dish or individual bowls. Serve with dressing and enjoy! 

Grilled Corn and Quinoa Salad
  • 5 ears of corn, husks on but silks removed
  • 4 green onions, roots and tops trimmed
  • 2 cups of quinoa, well rinsed
  • 3 1/4 cups water
  • Salt
  • 4 plum tomatoes, cored, seeded, and diced
  • 1 cup lightly packed of cilantro leaves and tender stems, chopped
  • Juice of 3 limes (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Black pepper

     1. Soak the corn: Place the corn in a large stockpot, or another container large enough to hold all the ears, and fill it with water. If you do not have a sufficiently large container, use your kitchen sink. Allow the corn to soak for 20 minutes. Remove from the water, shake, and tightly squeeze the husks against the kernels of corn to get rid of any excess water.

     2. Grill the corn: Heat your grill to high (550° F) and close the lid. Wait at least 15 minutes before lowering the heat to medium-high (450° F) and continuing. Place the corn on the grill rack, close the lid, and grill for 5 minutes. Turn the corn over and grill for another 5 minutes with the lid closed. Remove from the grill and let rest for 5 more minutes.

     3. Pull back the husks and char the corn: Take the grilled ears of corn and pull back the husks, exposing the kernels. Do not remove the husks. If possible, tie the husks back.

     4. Increase the grill temperature to high (550° F). Place a sheet of aluminum foil on one side of the hot grill. Place the pulled-back husks over the foil, allowing the exposed kernels to sit on the grill grates. (This is done so the husks don’t burn before the corn can char.) Close the grill lid and allow the kernels to char for about 5 minutes per side, or until they become dark and golden brown on all sides. At this point, add the green onions to the grill and char on all sides, about 8 minutes total. Remove the corn and green onions from the grill and set aside.

     5. Prepare the quinoa: Put the quinoa, water, and 1 teaspoon of salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and lower to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes. Uncover and check if the quinoa is ready by tilting the pan to the side to make sure all the water has been absorbed. If not, continue cooking for a few minutes more. Transfer the cooked quinoa to a large bowl and allow to cool at room temperature.

     6. Toss and dress the salad and serve: Cut the corn kernels off the cobs, slice the grilled green onions, and add both to the quinoa. Toss in the tomatoes and cilantro and mix well. Drizzle the lime juice and olive oil over the salad and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss well before serving.

Or, for the kids, try some fresh, sweet corn muffins. Whole kernels cut fresh from the cob add an unexpected texture and freshness to these moist muffins. They're wonderful served warm with butter. 

Real Corn Muffins


  • 6 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of fresh corn kernels (two ears)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of cornmeal
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 1 cup of buttermilk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten


     1. Heat the oven to 375° F. Place paper liners in a 12-cup muffin pan.

     2. Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a medium skillet. Add the corn and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook over medium-high heat until barely tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Then spread the corn onto a plate to cool slightly.

     3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

     4. Add the buttermilk, egg, and remaining oil to the dry ingredients and stir until blended. Then stir in the corn mixture.

     5. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Bake the muffins for about 16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature. 
Makes 1 dozen.

Let us in on your favorite corn recipes. We are going to start a board on Pinterest for summer produce recipes. Enjoy the summer barbeque season and don't forget to include Marini corn on your menu! Marini's priority is to keep their customers shucking and seriously crazy for corn all summer long.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Marini Farm Embraces Local-Sourcing and the Farm-to Movement

Marini Farm has actively participated in the hot trend of produce sourcing since the farm's establishment three generations ago. In the early years the farm operated as a "truck farm" with no direct consumer selling operations. In addition, to the farm's Community-Supported Agriculture program (CSA), Marini now sells produce on the wholesale market to local restaurants, farm stands, and specialty and grocery stores. "Currently 50% of the farm's produce is sold in the wholesale market and the demand is on the rise with the orders farm exceeding the supply," reports owner Mike Marini.

When you browse the produce aisles at local grocery stores, you do not usually know where the produce comes from. However, more and more frequently you will see signs that say "locally grown," and on occasion you may see the produce source or farm's name. Shaw's and Stop & Shop are two of Marini's top wholesale customers, so on any given day you may be purchasing corn, zucchini, summer squash, cucumbers, and other local produce from Marini Farm without realizing it. Restaurants love sharing their produce sources with their customers, as they know organic and locally grown produce is in big demand and that their customers are focused on healthy living and tastier options. "We are changing the accessibility of farm fresh produce by expanding our distribution programs to provide the best quality produce to the local market," Marini explains. "Our family has benefited from this farm-to-table lifestyle, and we want everyone to experience the same local freshness."

Local restaurants Salt and Ithaki in Ipswich, MA are active wholesale customers of Marini Farm. Their relationships with Marini Farm allow the restaurants' customers to become new customers of Marini. Did you know that one of the North Shore's favorite ice cream stands, Benson's Ice Cream, uses Marini strawberries in their seasonal strawberry ice cream?

A recent National Restaurant Association (NRA) survey discovered that over 55% of adults say they're more likely to visit a restaurant that offers foods that are grown or raised in an environmentally friendly manner. According to the NRA, the current top two restaurant menu trends this season are to serve up locally sourced meat and seafood, and locally grown produce.

As more and more Americans become aware of the personal, local, and global consequences of their food consumption, the "farm-to" concept continually tops the consumer trends charts. This surge in demand reflects the public's overall uncertainty about food safety and the effectiveness of government regulations in quality standards and labeling. It is easier to trust produce that has traveled 30 miles or fewer.

Even the national restaurant chains are following the farm-to trend. A local favorite fast-food chain, Chipotle Mexican Grill, "plans to serve more than 15 million pounds of locally grown produce in its restaurants this year, up from its 2012 goal of 10 million pounds," as reported in QSR Magazine.

According to Marini, "We pick seven days a week and have to move the produce, so having tight local networks to source product to is important." In the busy months produce is picked at peak ripeness, and based on demand it moves from the fields directly to the trucks for distribution.

The eating-local trend has taken off throughout the state. At the opening of the summer farmers market season last year, 21 new markets were opened, including 10 in Middlesex and Worcester Counties. That brought the total number of farmers markets in the state to 254, an increase of more than 55% in five years, according to the state's Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. The North Shore hosts farmers markets all week long. To learn more about where and when they are open, read the recent article in The Salem News, "Farmers markets bloom on the North Shore".

Buying locally grown fruits and vegetables means both a fresher fridge and a reduced carbon footprint. Local produce travels fewer miles from field to table than imported grocery store produce does. In addition, local produce can be picked at its peak ripeness and delivered immediately instead of being picked green and required to ripen in transit or on shelves.

Marini prides its smaller operations on being able to closely monitor the cultural controls, biological controls, and uses of chemicals and pesticides that go into growing the produce that brightens your summer. Marini Farm has been working with the University of Massachusetts for years to follow a balanced IPM program in order to produce the safest fruits and vegetables for local families while promoting a healthy environment and restricting use of harmful chemicals. With all the love local restaurants like Ithaki put into creating their amazing dishes, Marini Farm is proud to have put that much and more into helping expand local produce availability and consumption.

Marini focuses on keeping local, fresh and healthy. Marini wishes more people would question where the produce they purchase comes from, because if they knew the facts, "they would all grab local produce first." Marini commented that his farmland of over 200 acres can only yield so much produce, but he would double that amount if it would help him reach more people with healthier produce options. Marini knows that "delivering the produce closer to the time it is harvested results in better tasting-food."

Written by Lightning Consulting