Nebo Lodge: A Demonstration in Local
It’s hard to resist a place that so seamlessly blends its commitment to local and sustainable with excellent customer service and straightforward, yet inspiring food. However, Nebo Lodge has done just that. Perhaps that is why the fact that it is situated 12 miles out to sea on the island of North Haven, Maine, doesn’t seem to deter visitors in the least.
When Congresswoman Chellie Pingree bought the out-of-use inn in 2004 in an effort to reestablish a missing part of the community, she decided to take on the endeavor with both friends and family.
Pingree recruited island local, Amanda Hallowell, to head up her kitchen. A self-taught chef, Hallowell’s talents in the kitchen were born from the simple desire to cook good food that she loved. Sourcing locally is a fundamental philosophy of Hallowell’s kitchen, which makes good sense when all provisions must arrive by ferry and Nebo just happens to be situated on an island historically known for it’s agriculture. Hallowell has the privilege of picking and choosing daily ingredients, like local oysters and fresh chèvre from childhood friends and next-door neighbors.
As Nebo and it’s inspiring, ingredient-centric food became ever more popular amongst tourists and locals alike, it became evident that this was the type of business the island yearned for. So Pingree, this time with her husband, bought Turner Farm, once one of the top producing farms on the island, to aid in supplying ingredients for Nebo’s kitchen. For the prior 24 years, Turner Farm had served as a summer estate. Now, with pigs, chickens, turkeys, cattle, goats, three movable greenhouses, and extensive vegetable gardens, it is once again a working farm. The renewed focus on agricultural production there, has both inspired the revitalization of numerous other farms across the island, and has increased awareness of sustainability.
What makes a trip to Nebo so special isn’t just the ocean voyage, the well-balanced cocktail, the 9 rustic and cozy rooms, or the carefully crafted menu. Underlying Nebo’s success is the incredible sense of community it fosters, relying on the cooperation and hard work of people across the island to supply the freshest ingredients and to create a unique dining experience.
Although not necessarily from North Haven, all the staff at Nebo have a strong sense of attachment and commitment to place. There are bartenders from Brooklyn, servers who drove more than 3,000 miles from the Oregon coast for another season, and kitchen staff who head back to Texas come fall; all arrive each season sharing common goals. To create and serve food and drink they believe in and to support a tightknit community that holds a special place in their heart. You will feel it in the eagerness with which the waitress suggests a visit to Turner Farm’s twice weekly farm stand, or the way the innkeeper quickly offers you the use of her car to get there. You’ll see it in the pride with which each dish is plated, each cocktail stirred. A pride created by the knowledge that the cooperation between Nebo, Turner Farm and other island locals is what has resulted in this extraordinary experience.