‘Complete crisis’ as PFAS discovery upends life and livelihood of young Maine farming family

Read the full story from Maine Public.

The temperature had finally crept above zero on a recent morning as Johanna Davis and Adam Nordell walked along the snowy path leading to one of three greenhouses on their organic farm.

The unheated, 3,000-square-foot greenhouse was less frigid, but still cold. Adam sang the praises of spinach as Johanna pulled back fabric to reveal rows of baby plants growing in Unity, Maine – in the middle of a winter.

“Spinach is amazing,” Adam said. “Spinach can just hang out in the bone-cold frozen soil at 15 degrees below (zero) and once it warms up, it is able to move water around and perk right up. And it’ll go all winter. It gets incredibly sweet.”

Adam and Johanna had planned to sell spinach and other leafy greens this winter from Songbird Farm. But now those plans are on hold along with everything else on the 20-acre organic vegetable and grain farm where they live along with their 3-year-old son.

The couple hired a private laboratory last fall to test their water, soil and some crops after learning that the land had been repeatedly fertilized – decades before they purchased it – with municipal sludge that was potentially laced with forever chemicals known as PFAS.

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