NORTH HAVEN — For Libby Young, 23, life on the Turner Farm was meant to be. It’s a notion she reiterated more than once during our interview on a bitter cold January morning.
“It’s just great,” she said. “I really love it. In my high school yearbook my secret desire was to live on a farm. Five years later, here I am.”
Young is no stranger to island life as she was raised on Vinalhaven.
“As a young kid I loved it because I could be outside all the time,” she said. “I still love to be outside. I’m glad I grew up on an island. I appreciate it a lot more now that I’m older. It’s a lot safer.”
Like many kids who grow up on islands, Young spent some of her teenage years wishing there were a bridge between Vinalhaven and the mainland. However, she recognizes that “at the same time, it wouldn’t be Vinalhaven. Now that I’m 23 I don’t wish there were a bridge anymore. I do wish there was a bridge from Vinalhaven to North Haven.”
Young lived on the mainland for a few years after high school, earning a culinary degree from Eastern Maine Community College and subsequently working as a baker.
“Everything is more convenient [on the mainland]” she said. “You don’t need to think about getting groceries or getting clothes or fixing your car, everything is right there.”
Young also appreciated living among a much bigger variety of people than one typically finds on a Maine island.
“It’s a whole different lifestyle, living on the islands than living away,” she said. “I encourage it for all young people. A lot of young people have come back. A lot of kids, boys, come home because fishing is a good moneymaker. At least as long as fishing’s good. I’m curious to know what my sister will do; she’s still in school.”
The unusual hours of Young’s job as a baker took their toll, and she moved home in May 2013.
“The whole job thing wasn’t working,” she said. “I didn’t have a job, but I knew I didn’t want to be in a kitchen.”
One weekend last summer Young’s mother was at the North Haven farmer’s market. She happened to inquire with the manager of Turner Farm if there was any work available. As luck would have it, the farm was in need of someone to milk the goats and do livestock chores on the weekends. Young got the job.
“For the first couple of months I would go up, do that and stay the night,” she said. “Then it started evolving. I’d go up there more. I started to really enjoy it. Things were falling into place, like it was meant to be. At the end of the summer they offered me a full-time job.”
At that same time, Turner Farm was adding a new building that included two apartments. Young was offered one of the apartments. She also started working in the gardens.
“At the time I was the only one on the farm who knew both sides, the animals and the vegetables,” she said.
While Young’s job doesn’t require a lot of time during the winter, she is keeping very busy. She had her first child, a daughter named Lena, on Dec. 2.
“Before the baby, if I was bored I would literally just walk around the farm,” said Young. “Now that I have Lena I’m sure I’ll meet a lot more people, do a lot for her, with her. Living on the farm there’s always something to do or see. When I was still in school I said I wouldn’t come back [to an island], there’s nothing for me there. But everything falls into place. It’s meant to be. It’s a great place to raise a family now.”
Young says she plans to live on North Haven “as long as I have my job on the farm. And I’ll always find a way back to Vinalhaven. You always find a way back home. Your family’s here. It’s a safe place. There’s no other place like it.”
One of the things Young likes best about living on the farm is that “it faces Vinalhaven, which is kind of cool, so it’s the best of both worlds. Vinalhaven is a fishing community, and I’m a fisherman too, and North Haven is a farming community. Lena will definitely have the best of both worlds.”