The Wrap: Christmas tree shopping improves

The Clam Bar will offer food to TreeGull, a pop-up Christmas tree business that opens on Friday. Photo by Meredith Goad

Going Christmas tree shopping this weekend? Stop by the Clam Bar at 199 West Commercial St. in Portland, and you can grab something hot to eat and drink while you make the toughest decision – balsam fir or white pine?

Garrett FitzGerald, owner of The Clam Bar, said his vacation business TreeGull will open on Friday and last until Christmas. About 500 Christmas trees were due to arrive on the grounds this week; TreeGull also plans to sell wreaths and party supplies made by local artisans. Watch for two Christmas craft fairs in the field later in the season, one on the weekend of December 4-5 and the other from December 18-19.

TreeGull’s hours of operation will be 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday to Sunday.

The menu at the Clam Bar food trailer (the restaurant is still under construction) will include clam chowder and beef brisket chili served with cornbread. FitzGerald promises lots of hot chocolate and other “kid-friendly” candy.

Cocktail Mary, a cocktail bar at 229 Congress Street in Portland, plans to move to the site Thursday through Sunday throughout the season, FitzGerald said. Smokey & Brines BBQ will participate on Thursdays and Sundays.

Buyers who want to help a family in need can either donate a tree or contribute to a fund that will purchase trees and Christmas gifts. Customers are also encouraged to nominate a family for assistance. “Anyone who needs a little help this Christmas season, we will try to provide it,” said FitzGerald.

Change of plan

Jordan Rubin, the owner of Mr. Tuna, no longer plans to open a new restaurant in the Freeport building where Goodfire Brewing Co. will have a new brewery and tasting room.

“It’s bittersweet because we were so excited to be a part of the Freeport community, but we have a new project going on and we are in negotiations for a space in the Old Port,” Rubin said by th -mail. “As they say, one door closes and another opens.”

Rubin said he couldn’t share any further details at this time.

The Freeport Building at 117 Route 1 is the former home of El Jefe Taco Bar and Conundrum Wine Bistro.

Learn more, please

S’mores Nights begin at Congress Square Park on December 16 and are scheduled from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. every Thursday during the winter.

Ingredients are free, although a suggested donation of $ 5 will go to Friends of Congress Square Park. To help keep you warm, a limited number of S’mores Night-themed fleece blankets will be available for a suggested donation of $ 10.

If you’re still hungry, the Pink Waffle food truck will be there selling waffles and hot drinks.

Self-sufficiency fueled by the pandemic has increased

It’s official: The Mainers grew more of their own food during the pandemic. They also fished, hunted and forage more, and raised more animals for meat, fish and dairy products.

That’s according to a new survey from the National Food Access and COVID Research Team, a national effort to track the impacts of COVID-19 on access to food, food security, and food systems. The study involved researchers from the University of Maine and the University of Vermont.

In June, Amanda and Rob Duquette performed a song they wrote, “Time to Grow”, while they sat in their Biddeford garden. The two started gardening in 2020 and expanded their garden in 2021. Gregory Rec / Personal photographer

Researchers found that nearly 60% of households in Maine and Vermont have produced food at home since the start of the pandemic. About half of these households have either produced their own food for the first time or stepped up their existing efforts.

“Our study shows that there is a growing interest among residents of Vermont and Maine in growing their own food and buying from local producers,” said Rachel Schattman, assistant professor of sustainable agriculture at the University of Maine, in a press release. “We need to think carefully about how supporting our local food systems can help mitigate the negative consequences of disruptive national events like the COVID-19 pandemic. “

The level of food insecurity has declined since the peak of the pandemic, but the study shows it is still higher than pre-pandemic levels. More than 27 percent of households in Maine and Vermont still struggle to find enough to eat.

Maine fort

In this season of excess, increasing the nutritional power of your morning smoothie seems like smart thinking. Saco-based Atlantic Sea Farms launched two kelp cubes that mix locally harvested kelp with berries.

Wild Blueberry Ginger Kelp Cubes are made from mashed wild blueberries and ginger, while Cranberry Kelp Cubes combine mashed cranberries and cranberry seeds, which contain 1.6 times more dietary fiber. than chia or flax, according to Atlantic Sea Farms.

The cubes, which cost $ 7.99 per eight-cube pack, will hit Sprouts nationwide in January, as well as other major grocery and independent markets. Locally, find them at the Harbor Fish Market in Portland. They are also available online at

Rejoice in small businesses

Bloody Marys and Mimosas flights at The Maker’s Galley. Courtesy of The Maker’s Galley

Celebrate small businesses on Saturday this week with the food entrepreneurs who work at Fork Food Lab, a commercial kitchen at 72 Parris St. in Portland. They will sell their products and offer free samples from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Coastal Maine Fishermen’s Association will sell monkfish stew made with local catches; proceeds will go to the Fishermen Feeding Mainers program, which buys fish from local fishermen for donation to food banks, schools and community groups.

Let’s go brunch

The Maker’s Galley – a tasting lounge, café, and gift shop featuring produce grown and made in Maine that opened Nov. 13 at 5 Commercial St. in Portland – served its first brunch on Sunday. Look for a buildable Bloody Mary bar, flights of mimosas (made with different juices) and breakfast bites every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Wild blueberries grow in Warren. Photo AP / Robert F. Bukaty

Blueberries for everyone

A state program that distributes frozen wild blueberries to Downeast pantries will continue into the next year, thanks to a renewed federal grant.

USDA’s Farm to Food Bank Project grant of nearly $ 38,000, the second in Maine, will fund the work of Healthy Acadia, an Ellsworth-based nonprofit that makes family packs of frozen wild blueberries from Washington and Hancock counties, using blueberries that otherwise would not be harvested.

Berries harvested and packed next year will go to more than two dozen Downeast pantries in the fall.

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