There will soon be a new place to buy decorated cakes, baked goods and pastries. Farm 23 is preparing to debut Sept. 21. Laura and Josh Puchalski own it. The couple moved to Boothbay Harbor in July after operating a bakery in Montague, Massachusetts for 11 years. Laura is the baker and is also in charge of cake decorating. Josh’s main responsibility is running the front counter, making coffee and deliveries.
The couple began thinking about where they wanted to live in retirement when first considering moving to Boothbay Harbor.
“We were looking at places in Midcoast Maine when we realized there was no reason to wait. We could move now and open a new bakery,” Laura said.
So the couple sought advice from Facebook and Midcoast Community Message Board to find a small coastal community needing a bakery. Laura heard from Boothbay resident Julie Roberts and later received an invitation from Patty Minerich to stay in her duplex while checking out the area. The Puchalskis needed a space to live and work and to care for their dogs. After a brief search, a Route 96 property which was used as an art gallery and event center was for sale. “We checked out a few places, but it seemed this place was here, waiting for us,” she said.
Laura has 13 years’ experience as a baker. She specializes in cake decorating and breakfast pastry. Josh worked as a local cable access television technician prior to joining the family business. Initially, he began helping out, then had to decide whether to stay with the television station or join the family business full time. For Josh, working with his wife full time has a been a great experience. “Most may think working with your spouse would be like being trapped, but for me, it’s heaven,” he said.
A third family member is involved with the bakery. Laura’s mother Jane Paulin is employed as a baker. Paulin worked as a pharmacy technician before joining the business. Like her daughter, she sold her home and moved to Boothbay Harbor. She began working for the family business after Laura left her job to open her own shop.
Laura taught herself how to bake. After nearly two years working for someone else, she decided to open her own bakery. “I was in my early 20s and realized I really enjoyed baking, and this is what I wanted to do. I was taking some business courses and decided no more school. So I opened my own bakery.”
The couple based their bakery’s name on a couple of facts associated with the business. One is using fresh produce and vegetables in the baked goods, soups and quiches made. So they chose “Farm” as a key word. And the number “23’ is significant in the couple’s lives. “It’s the date of our first date. The day we married, and it’s a significant date in several friends’ and family members’ lives. So that’s how we got ‘Farm 23’,” Laura said.
The bakery will also show paintings by local artists. John Butke of Boothbay and Corey Stafford of Whitefield will be the first two artists featured. The couple attended high school with Stafford and he offered his paintings. Farm 23 is on Route 96, Boothbay Harbor.