Mornings come early for Meredith Mineo — at 6 a.m., to be exact. Several months ago, she traded in a New York City lifestyle for 12-hour days on a first-year organic farm in Eliot, Maine.
“Stagnancy has always been something that I’ve feared happening in my life,” she says. That’s why Mineo explored several career paths and life in various cities to try to find her calling. Often, she found herself coming back to one passion: food.
Mineo, 35, did stints in Las Vegas, where she worked as a consultant to open new restaurants and help train staff; in Louisiana, where she found a love for leadership and nonprofit work; and in Copenhagen, where she became drawn to agriculture. Mineo then returned to New York to work at a nonprofit supporting women’s rights. Though she loved and felt fulfilled by the work, after three years, she found she was still missing something.
It was at that point that she knew she needed to find a way to work with food in a “meaningful, mission-driven way,” she says. During her time in Copenhagen, Mineo was impressed by the city’s culture and connectivity to food and where it comes from. Back in New York, she did pro-bono work for several food-focused nonprofits, interacting with small farmers. Through that, she began working at Square Roots, an urban farming entrepreneurship platform that teaches new farmers how to run a hydroponic farming business.
That’s also where she met Phil Cuddeback, who now owns Phil’s Farm in Eliot. Mineo currently works with him side by side.
“Not only did I know that working on a first-year farm in Southern Maine would be an awesome experience, I knew working with Phil would be the same,” she says. “Having had the opportunity to work with him before and learn about his values and beliefs as it pertains to both farming and how he lives his life, I had no doubts that I would always respect his farming and business practices.”
Mineo’s goal is to one day start a farm of her own. She says living and working on the Seacoast has been an invaluable experience. Here, her desire for variety and intentional living crosses paths with her passion for food.
“What I love about farming is you may farm the same land in the same place for many years, but growing food is a constant cycle of change, of life and death,” she says. “There is always something new happening or a new challenge, which for me is a perfect combination of being rooted without being stagnant.”
After several years of moving around, Mineo thinks she may have finally found her home. “I love this community, being near the water, which, having grown up on Long Island, is very important to me, and being away from, yet close to, everything I need,” she says.
Her work on the farm isn’t limited to the field. When she’s not working on the beds, harvesting, or packaging produce for their weekly CSA, she’s working on the business side of the operation, or helping at the York farmers market on weekends. After a long day, she likes to wind down with a local beer, cook, read, or just reflect on what she’s taken away from her time on the farm.
For Mineo, farming is a way of life. When you’ve got your hands in the soil, it forces you to “think about who you are as a human being and who you want to be and how you want to affect the world,” she says. “You’re growing something that will literally be a part of somebody else at some point.”
For more installments of Open Doors, click here.