Jess Quinn has always loved adventuring, farming and foraging. “I value growing my own food, being resourceful of the seasons and sharing the bounty,” she says. “I value doing things to support my own livelihood. I’m an early bird; I enjoy the mornings farming and utilizing what I can in the kitchen.”
Quinn grew up in the foothills of New York’s Adirondacks in the Mohawk Valley, where her family often foraged and grew their own food. Her love of the ocean—and the chance for adventure—took her around the world to Central and South America, the Caribbean and Fiji, where she worked as a private chef, a crew member and a divemaster assisting an underwater videographer on shark diving expeditions. She also backpacked and sailed along the Guna Yala coast in Panama, exploring the islands, organic gardens and culture of the Kunas indigenous people of Panamá. She spent time in Tampa, Florida, where she worked with James Beard nominated chef Jeannie Pierola at her restaurant, Edison, and at pop-up “KitchenBar” events.
After traveling extensively, Quinn returned to the northeast, settling in Vermont to be closer to family. She worked on organic farms, grew flowers for florists, rode horses and managed barns, all while raising chickens and ducks and growing her own food. She would often host large farm dinners for groups of friends to try out new flavors and dishes.
In September 2011, Quinn ventured to Maine for her cousin’s wedding in Kennebunk and discovered Phippsburg. “My aunt and uncle owned a B&B in Kennebunkport and as a kid I’d visit them and always wanted to explore more,” Quinn says. She was captivated by the Phippsburg peninsula’s charming fishing community and beautiful expansive coastline. “It was the first time I’d been out on the beaches there and I went sailing. It was so charming – everyone had left for the summer and it was quiet and peaceful.” During the trip, she befriended several people from Phippsburg who she’s kept in touch with. One of them contacted her in 2017 about an opportunity to manage North Creek Farm in Phippsburg.
Quinn moved in to North Creek Farm in October of 2017 and began the licensing and permitting process to manage the farm and its market cafe. She refurbished the cafe space, which needed some TLC after its longtime owner, Suzy Verrier, had sold it after 20 years in operation. “Suzy made the place intriguing. She was a rose expert and she left me a lot of her rose library,” Quinn says. “I had to be ready for people’s expectations because I wasn’t doing exactly what Suzy did.” Verrier, a native Mainer and children’s book illustrator, was well known in the Phippsburg community (and beyond) for her eclectic variety of roses, annuals/perennials, unique handmade gift items, fresh produce and sandwiches. One of the only spots in the area to buy food and produce, North Creek Farm has always attracted a diverse mix of local Phippsburg residents, tourists, campers on their way to Hermit Island, and beach-goers stopping by on their way to Popham.
After working diligently over the fall and winter to get the place spruced up, Quinn opened up North Creek Farm & Market in May of 2018. Her menu included a seasonal flavor profile grown on the farm such as: The Crispy Duck Egg sandwich using fresh duck eggs from her ducks on the farm and her Rabbits’s Dish, a fresh salad of the day with chopped full of veggies from the farm and a rose-citrus vinaigrette made from roses on the property. Quinn’s homemade smoothies were one of her most popular items, including a strawberry rhubarb smoothie made with her own rhubarb and local strawberries. She also hosted woodfired pizza nights every Thursday for the community. Some of her signature pizzas included a Margarita with fresh tomatoes and basil and a pizza with locally foraged black trumpet mushrooms, goat cheese and pesto. Her tables would fill quickly, and people would also come in for takeout pies. “I love utilizing what I can grow and source locally to provide fresh, fun food,” Quinn says. She also showcased local artists including Phippsburg area painters, driftwood artists and hand-painted porcelain makers.
After a successful season owning and operating North Creek Farm & Market, Quinn learned that the new owner no longer wanted a business on the property. In August she was given 30 days to vacate the property. “Many regular customers and local residents came by in support to purchase anything they could to help with the unfortunate news,” Quinn says. “I was amazed by the love and support from the community!” Quinn was determined to pursue a better long term location and fortunately, was able to quickly find another opportunity at nearby Edgewater Farm Bed & Breakfast, located at 71 Small Point Rd. Owners Bill and Carol Emerson have been in business for 20 years, running an environmentally sustainable business utilizing solar energy and permaculture methods. Quinn has been helping them run the B&B, including working on their farm and growing a variety of fruits, vegetables and flowers on the property while developing her next business venture. A large portion of the vegetables they grow is donated weekly to the local Bath Food Shelf.
Whatever Quinn pursues next, it will involve staying true to her passion for producing fresh, healthy local food for appreciative local communities. “I was new to the Phippsburg community and I’ve connected with people who say they’ll follow me wherever I go,” Quinn says of her customers’ loyalty. “There’s a strong sense of community here and people are super positive and supportive of what I want to do with food and farming and being a young entrepreneur.” Quinn hopes to put on monthly farm-style dinners for the community this winter and is working with the upcoming Top Sea Brewing of Phippsburg, oyster farmers and other local producers. She explains that Maine oysters build their fat content over the winter, which changes and enhances their flavor. “When I first discovered this phenomenon, a local oyster farmer brought a bunch to one of my events and they were amazing. I’d love to utilize them for winter events.” Quinn has also been looking at farm properties throughout the midcoast area to start a farm brewery & orchard, where she could host her seasonal farm dinners and special events and grow grains, vegetables and fruit. “I’m enjoying the process and building a community is important to me. I’d like to be a source for makers and producers in Maine and focus on farming.”