Tops’l Farm

From farm to table, Sarah Pike’s Tops’l Farm serves guests delicious cuisine and cocktails in a warm and welcoming atmosphere
Words By Kathryn Miles
Photos By Lauryn Hottinger

Sarah Pike learned at an early age that a life lived close to the land can be an arduous one. When she was growing up, her parents operated one of Maine’s first organic-certified beef farms, located in inland Waldo County.

Sarah Pike, creator and owner of Tops’l, says she is inspired by opportunities for creativity and play within the Maine landscape.

Sarah Pike, creator and owner of Tops’l, says she is inspired by opportunities for creativity and play within the Maine landscape.

“It can seem like there is so much romanticism that exists with that lifestyle,” she says now. “But I’ve also known firsthand how hard it can be to scratch out a life living as a farmer.”

After college, she and her husband, Josh, who grew up in Farmington, moved to California, where Sarah worked in digital marketing. They eventually made their way back east, to Massachusetts, where she launched a meal delivery company specializing in gourmet macaroni and cheese. On weekends, she and Josh would make the four-hour drive to visit her mother, who had since begun a homesteading farm of her own where she raised much of the produce and meat enjoyed by Sarah and her five siblings.

One day, on the long drive back to Massachusetts, Josh ruminated aloud about how great it would be to have a farm like his mother-in-law’s.

“And I was like, No, it would not, Sarah laughs. “And then I thought for a minute and was like, OK, maybe it would.

The couple began shopping around and soon fell in love with Tops’l Farm, an 83-acre mixed-use parcel of land in Waldoboro. It had been in the previous owners’ family for four generations, slowly transitioning from a working farm to a place of leisure for the extended family to enjoy.

“Food has always been one of my main expressions of love,” says Sarah. “And I started to see how I could extend that to lodging as well.”

Sarah knew she wanted to pay homage both to the history of the farm, which is named for the uppermost sail on a schooner (the previous owners were sailing aficionados), and to the land itself. She soon settled on a glamping concept: 11 A-frame cabins (including one that is fully handicapped-accessible) along with family-style meals and special events in the farm’s original barn, which seats 175.

Vintage barware collected and lovingly restored contributes to the nostalgic feel of Tops’l Farm.

Vintage barware collected and lovingly restored contributes to the nostalgic feel of Tops’l Farm.

Weekend guests arrive to vintage coolers packed with food sure to spark nostalgia: fried chicken and homemade biscuits with hot honey; house dip and homemade kettle chips; s’mores kits. In the morning, guests can feast on cast-iron skillet breakfasts of parboiled potatoes, fresh vegetables, locally sourced sausage, and organic eggs. A French press and kettle await them at their campsite, along with a firepit and instruction cards on how to have their own Instagram-worthy camping experience.

“Our guests come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some have never lit a fire. For others, it’s the first time sleeping outdoors. Still others just want an effortless opportunity to relax and enjoy nature. We want to meet all of them where they are and make it easy,” says Sarah.

Easy, she insists, can also be beautiful—especially on a historic Maine farm. During the summer season, Tops’l serves a more upscale dinner for guests each Saturday night. During off-seasons, they offer price-fixed special meals ranging from an autumn wild game supper to winter raclette. Cocktails, a specialty of Sarah’s, are served in antique glassware salvaged from secondhand and thrift stores. “Some people rescue dogs; I rescue vintage barware,” she jokes.

She and Josh bottle their own hard cider made of apples sourced on the farm; they also make their own cocktail mixers featuring the flavors of the seasons: maple, rhubarb, blueberry, and pine. During the summer, she collaborates with Brunswick’s Vessel & Vine to offer cocktail foraging walks for guests. “At its heart, Tops’l is a place for guests to be curious and to have fun in a beautiful place,” says Sarah.

One of her signature cocktails, the Tops’l Come Spring Tipple, pays homage to that idea. Named for the 1940 Ben Ames William novel about the founding of nearby Union, the cocktail features vodka Sarah infuses with beach plum petals she harvests on the farm. If none grow in your yard or garden, dried ones can be easily sourced on websites like Etsy or Amazon.

The drink itself is fresh, lively, and an astonishingly lovely sunset pink. For her newly arrived guests, Sarah likes to pair it with a cheese board featuring cheese made by her sister-in-law Rachel Bell at Long Lost Farm of Tide Mill. She serves the cheese board on a cedar shingle, along with her own homemade beet jam [1] and fermented veggies from nearby Morse’s Sauerkraut.

To make a picnic-worthy cocktail hour of your own, she recommends purchasing the cedar planks often used to grill fish. Pack at least two complementary cheeses, some good-quality crackers, nuts, and fruit. Let the cheese come to room temperature before serving and be creative with cocktail garnishes like edible flowers or herb sprigs.

“Really, just let the seasons guide you,” says Sarah. “What could be more blissful, really, than the taste of Maine enjoyed outside?”

Local cheese, cured meats, and fermented vegetables are paired with artisanal crackers, seasonal fruits, and floral garnishes to create an opulent picnic cheese board.
Local cheese, cured meats, and fermented vegetables are paired with artisanal crackers, seasonal fruits, and floral garnishes to create an opulent picnic cheese board.

During the summer season, Sarah and her family make an annual pilgrimage to nearby Sheepscot General Store & Farm to pick fresh berries. This time of year, frozen ones can be easily substituted.

During the summer season, Sarah and her family make an annual pilgrimage to nearby Sheepscot General Store & Farm to pick fresh berries. This time of year, frozen ones can be easily substituted.

The Tops'l Come Spring Tipple

Fresh, fragrant, and garishly bright, the Tops’l Come Spring Tipple is a perfect way to usher in warmer days.

INGREDIENTS

Cocktail

1½ ounces rose-infused vodka

½ ounce St-Germain elderflower liqueur
1 teaspoon strawberry simple syrup
Juice of ½ lemon
Splash of soda water

Flower garnish

 

Rose-Infused Vodka:

1 ounce organic beach plum petals or dried Rosa rugosa buds

375 milliliter-bottle good-quality vodka

 

Strawberry Simple Syrup:

3 ounces fresh or frozen strawberries

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup water

 

For the vodka:

Fill a 32-ounce Mason jar with the petals or dried buds. Add vodka until the mixture reaches the neck of the jar. Seal and let it sit for at least 48 hours and up to 4 weeks. Strain with a sieve and cheesecloth.

 

For the simple syrup:

Slice and muddle the berries. In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a slow boil over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the berries and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Remove the pan from the heat, cover it, and allow it to cool at room temperature for at least 2 hours. Strain the syrup and discard the strawberries. Syrup can be stored in a refrigerator for two weeks.

 

For the cocktail:

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Combine rose-infused vodka, St-Germain liqueur, strawberry simple syrup, and lemon. Shake vigorously. Strain into a coupe glass and top with a splash of seltzer water and floral garnish.