Transport issue complicated farming

To my children I said, “I love you”
As I worked both day and night
It wasn’t for me I put in these hours,
It was for you all to be alright.

- Sherri Cunningham
g granddaughter to Pat Farnsworth
aft after his passing at 94 years

ORONO - What is not a widely
known fact, the construction of I-95 in
the fifties, forever forced Carl ‘Pat’
Farnsworth into a major life discipline
for his continuous on and off-farm
work activities preceding the eventual
major growth of Pat’s Pizza, here. The
original head of the household, George
and wife Eva Farnsworth came to
Orono from Harrington, Maine with
their children and George, previously
a logging camp cookie and rail car
diner chef, traded in that work to cook
for a fraternity here for 28 years at the
University. In summer, George, Eva,
Pat and his older siblings spent every
summer in Ogunquit where George
taught them all the skills of the trade,
cooking, cleaning, preparation, each
annual season at Lookout Hotel. Back
at home, on a small plot of ground, the
family homestead was never without
chores, gardens and livestock. Pigs
were a standard with the Farnsworth's.
Pat - more than his siblings - did most
of the chores and worked various small
town jobs like subbing at a filling station for the owner’s lunch hour to a
daily after school clerking job at an
Orono store before his waiting pig
pen-chores at home. A family purchase of more farm ground that was to
become Esker Farms of Alton/Old
Town in the period of 1931-1940 reported son Bruce Farnsworth - was
far more than just a growing family
farm, as the number of sows and litters
were beyond the hundreds and numbered in many hundreds. It supported the
entire family throughout World War II
along with Pat’s restaurant and Eska
Farms, this was one of the largest pig
farms in the state as written in Maine’s
Own Pizza King, The Life and Times of
Carl D. Farnsworth, 1909-2003, a book
written by granddaughter Sue Fletcher.
In present day, a hay farmer cuts hay
each season on the former Farnsworth
lands in Alton that were made rich from
pig manure. So lush in fact, this ground
has seen little to no fertilizer added for
many years. Commuters along Rte. 16 well known as the winding Esker Road or
Bennoch Road - were keen observers of
pigs in those same fields for most of the
fifties and sixties and the Eska Farm pork
production activity was both a visual and
olfactory landmark for passers by.
Bruce Farnsworth offered, “My goodness. How cute piglets really are when
small.” He said he and several of his
friends and 3 siblings had daily chores on
the farm and unlike Pat and his siblings where few if any chores were once shared
as fairly - Pat’s workaholic lifestyle was
instilled within his own children that seasonally, there were many roundups to

2015 S P R I N G ISSUE Mainely Agriculture || Equi Ag & Livestock || Aqua Agriculture 13

By Wally Sinclair, Publisher
gather all piglets one at a time for vaccina- chicken plants and through a trucking
tions and return them accurately to each routine that saw Pat Farnsworth with conproper sow. Thereby, that function - all tracts to include all mess facilities at Dow
chores - was a lot of exercise catching Air Base, hauling off table scraps. At that
screaming piglets, and a full focus coordi- time that was the main source of pig
nation for each farm discipline for feeding,
fodder other than the
mucking out, and watering.
natural rooting nature
of pork. Like his father George, before
him, food scraps from
the fraternity or later,
scraps from so many
area local restaurants
served as the major
pig food at the start
through a much larger
full fledged pig farm
developed by Pat in
his early years of
mixed farming and
downtown business
activities.



Esker Farm had its own licensed slaughter house right on the premises. The family prepared the hogs for shipping, kept
them in large refrigerators ready for shipping directly from the farm. And as a boy,
Bruce was directly involved in that process
of the farm. Bruce became almost a carbon copy of Pat with his lifetime spent at
Pat’s Pizza and yet it was Bruce who developed the statewide franchise of the
family recipe and diligent menu practices
for the many stores throughout Maine that
resulted and continue to trade upon Pat’s
well known persona and restaurant success. The demise of the pig farm from the
interruption of road building ushered in an
off-farm place of steady work for all four
of Pat’s sons and daughters and twelve
grandchildren and many great grandchildren. Most of them taking meals at the
restaurant with their expected chores for
the growing years. Today, four generations of Farnsworth grandchildren and
great grandchildren still work the Orono
store with the many employees overseen
by Bruce Farnsworth.
Bruce never
worked for any other company, working
for Pat, unlike his siblings who went off on
different career paths. Bruce led the franchise success story that now has Pat’s
Pizza stores south to below Portland.
Historically at the pig farm, feed for so
many pigs came from local restaurants,

When the state of
Maine and most states
added more and more
regulations aimed at
pork production and
food preparation, Esker Farms was forced
to go out of business.
Already - because of I
95 - the farm was cut
in two by the new interstate, and all day to
day operations at Esker Farms became
much more complicated with the routine
of operating a growing Pat’s Pizza business in Orono.

successful pig farm to the highway cutoff,
seemingly gardened each day before opening
his business as an escape and avocation before
a steady routine 12-14 hours a day, seven days
a week spent at Pat’s Pizza. His full menu
restaurant regime as the final vocation of his
life, was loved by his many loyal customers.
Customers at Orono are still made up of 75%
townspeople, and the rest, college students and
a continued university alumni that show up
many years returning with their own families
and with second, and third generation university students hungering for a relaxed meal in a
college town. The Pat’s Pizza taste is now
been duplicated in every store of the same
name, across the state.
On February 13, 2003, Pat didn’t show up for
work and that was the day he died, at age 94.
With him, the ever present cigar stub, his
starched restaurant-white clothing and colored
suspenders had left an indelible iconic image
for thousands of patrons over many many
decades. A member of the Maine Restaurant
Association, he was a recipient of that organization’s lifetime achievement award for a career that started with tedious hard work at the
family pig pen, clerking at stores and finally,
mixing all of his own beloved farming activities within his exacting food preparation detail
as practiced at his restaurants and handed down
from his father before him to be passed on
again and again, ever since.

While some of the
former farm was cut
for farm use, it was later mined for gravel
and the final divesting of the whole farm,
sold off. As if pig farming and running a
restaurant were not enough, Pat Douglas
Farnsworth was an avid horticulturalist
maintaining a large greenhouse at the family farm and even managed many bee
hives, later selling honey at his restaurant.
V
Over the years Pat owned several rented
buildings and leased other fully operating
businesses in Orono to include a bowling
alley, a small excavation / construction
company and he even managed cattle
farming operations with his licensed
slaughter house at the farm. His gardening, greenhouse and planted flowers were
part of a landscaped farmstead that featured a 100-foot rock wall that Pat built in
his ‘spare time’.
During the world war, Pat’s trading of
scrip and cuts of meat by bartering among
local merchants and food customers became a dickering practice to make ends
meet in his very early farm and family
business operations. Pat was never fond of
bookkeeping for so many activities, even
when shared with his wife, he eventually
knew he had to give all this to an accountant to keep him current with government
rules and regulations. Government, a personal irk for the workaholic who lost his

- Be sure to visit your Pat’s Pizza in the following towns in Maine 20 Park St.

209 US Rt.

662 Main Rd.

11 Mill

1
100 E Main St.

1 Main Rd.

168 Main St.

209 US Rt. 1

237 Main St.

209 US
Rt. 1

844
Roosevelt Tr.
Rt 2 Mayfield Rd.

396 High St.
1931-2015
(84 years)

791 US Rt. 1

292 State St.

30 Market St.