Down-to-earth woman makes roots in Casco

NW dd12 rooted earth photo A LAP TOP HEN

A LAPTOP HEN: Inside the cozy quarters of the chicken coop, Sara Tryzelaar holds a chicken named Samantha. Her egg-laying pets get a lot of human interaction from the time they are chicks, which promotes a friendlier fowl. (De Busk Photo)

As part of National Women’s Month, which occurs during the month of March, The Bridgton News is exploring the stories of some of the women who are not normally in the limelight but contribute to the community or stand out as worthwhile role models.

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — Never have chickens evoked so many words of praise.

Sara Tryzelaar lavishes her egg-laying hens with intelligent conversation and an equal amount of mothering. The hens respond like winged puppies, flocking at her feet, eager to be held and to be cuddled. The chicken coop is warm and lush with layers of white pine woodchips on the floor.

On nights that the temperature drops to 10 degrees or colder, Tryzelaar sleeps on the couch with a baby monitor that keeps track of the activities in the hen house. Her fear is that the heat lamp used to warm and keep alive the hens might accidently start a fire.

Inside the farmhouse that was built around 1870, a flock of future egg-layers spends its time under red-tinted heat lamps. Tryzelaar has memorized the names of each female chick: Laverne and Shirley, Henrietta, Hazel, Annie, Penny, Molly, Bertha and Dahlia.

In fact, a following of FaceBook friends and customers helped her select names for some of the birds.

Tryzelaar described how the naked neck chicken, also called a ‘turken,’ is quite a character. She found Vivian asleep atop the glass jar that dispenses water for the cluster of chicks. During her waking hours, Vivian perches precariously on the metal feeder.

A floppy-eared rabbit resides in the dining room. A burgundy and cream-colored rug has become the bunny’s property. According to Tryzelaar, Sophie the rabbit would like to befriend the household cat, but each time, the feline darts away.

With a delightful, almost contagious laugh and a twinkle in her blue eyes, she said, “Sophie the bunny would like to have a friend. But the cat’s not having any part of it. She’s a ‘Scaredy Cat.’ ”

If it isn’t obvious, Tryzelaar is an avid animal lover.

NW dd12 rooted earth photo HANDS ON CHICK

HANDS ON CHICK: Sara Tryzelaar, who owns and operates Rooted Earth, cuddles one of her chicks. The Rooted Earth Facebook page allowed business patrons and friends to suggest names for the future layers. (De Busk Photo)

Recently, she earned her Bachelor’s of Science in horticulture, agriculture and business from the University of Southern Maine (USM) in Orono.

She decided to go to college after managing her own business, Kind Threads, for eight years. She put aside the business for text books and college classes, but worked full-time while attending the university.

Almost two decades ago, while other teenage girls were concerned about dates and dresses for the prom, Tryzelaar had already embarked on her own business. That was during her senior year at Westbrook High School.

“I graduated early, so they let me go to school part-time. I had started my own business while I was in high school, growing herbs and making products and selling them,” she said.

“My best-selling product back then was an all-natural deodorant. That was always my best seller by far,” she said.

Other products included catnip pillows, lotions, body scrubs and teas.

“When I started, I was one of the first people who had a website selling handmade clothes at the time. I started the website in 1995. It was an AOL website,” she said.

Using the computer back then — as she does now — Tryzelaar advertised her wares, or her ‘wears.’

She found it amazing when she went to a concert one evening and spotted a few dozen women wearing the corduroy skirts and pants that she had designed and sewn. She admitted that she did sell her handmade apparel on the concert grounds, too.

Additionally, she found it pretty thrilling that she sent shipments of her clothes all the way to Japan. At one point, a store in Minnesota kept her busy with monthly orders.

Now-a-days, she owns a large sewing room that overlooks her snow-covered yard. In a separate office space, a map of the United States and the world has pin heads marking the places where she has sold her items — and that is just for 2014.

NW dd12 rooted earth photo IN THE SEWING ROOM

IN THE SEWING ROOM: Standing in her sewing room, Sara Tryzelaar started the company Kind Threads when she was 17. Now 36 years old, Tryzelaar owns Rooted Earth, which participates in a farm share program and will offer a farmstand to the public this summer. (De Busk Photo)

Just this month, on March 1, Tryzelaar turned 36 years old.

Does she feel like she has accomplished a lot at a fairly young age?

“Yeah, I am one of those Type A personalities. I like to stay busy all the time. I was brought up by both parents, with really good work ethics,” she said.

“My parents got divorced. My mom taught my sister and me the importance of hard work,” she said.

“Hard work gets you what you want,” she said.

“I put myself into everything I do. I don’t like to be bored,” she said.

Three years ago, Tryzelaar started a business called Rooted Earth, which offer farm shares. Currently, there are still three more farm shares available for the 2014 growing season. The ones that included cut garden flowers already sold out.

A newcomer to the Town of Casco, Tryzelaar and her husband purchased a farmhouse off Route 85 this summer.

They moved from a 100-acre farm on the outskirts of Orono to the two-story home on five acres of land.

“The back section is about three acres, which will be where we’ll plant that vegetables and fruits,” she said.

On the property are several fruit-bearing trees: Peach, pear, cherry and apple trees. That is in addition to strawberry and blueberry plants.

When the couple made the move to Casco, they moved all the perennials from the old farm and planted them in the earth last fall.

“Basically, we’ll use every inch we possibly can. We are basically going to tear up the whole front yard and plant flowers,” she said.

“One major thing about our farm, besides being as sustainable as possible, is that we only use organic fertilizer. I am concerned with water conservation and turning the compost pile into fertilizer,” she said.

Future plans for this summer include having a farmstand on the property, and getting involved in the Casco Farmer’s Market in the Village. Additionally, Tryzelaar plans to sell her handmade clothes and all-natural body products.

Her best friend, who lives in California, is calculating a move to Maine.

“She is a Pilate’s instructor, and will be holding classes outdoors on the farm,” she said.

Tryzelaar said there is an artistic side to being a green-thumb and plotting a garden.

“I definitely think so. I try to think about how the garden is going to look. It is something that is always changing. If you don’t like how something looks one year, you can always change it the next year. You keep fine-tuning it,” she said.

This week, the seedlings are unseen — still immersed in soil, growing in pots inside a room heated by a woodstove. With that initial round of planting done, Tryzelaar has turned her attention to revamping the kitchen pantry and hours of sewing in the upstairs room.

On March 12, she wrote this entry on Facebook, “Busy, busy, busy, sewing six pairs of pants for custom orders with the rain pounding on the metal roof.”

She followed that comment with a modern technology version of Haiku.

#happy #sewing #rain #soundsofnature #isew #handmade #etsy #rootedearth,” she wrote.

For more information, check out the website or -email Sara Tryzelaar at

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