Meet Ron Leeman, The Maine Man of Jam.A pleasant, genuine, gentle and personable man who turns 80 this year, and has lived along the central coast of Maine for his whole life.
He won a 4-H award with his first calf at age 12, then won a Maine 4-H tractor driving contest a few years later after he could see over the wheel and reach the clutch pedal.Those were a few of the fun highlights of growing up on a farm in Wiscasset in between the 18 hour days of work.
Ron graduated college with a degree in agricultural science and went to work in poultry sales in the 1960’s.He raised a family of three with his wife, Sharon, in the town where he grew up.After 2 bouts of cancer and a heart attack, he shifted into a slower lane on life’s road, and began making jams, syrups and relishes according to old family recipes, the oldest of which he attributes to his grandmother.Ron used “Gram’s” formula for his wild blueberry jam andwon a contest with it in 1996.This success launched Ron into his late in life career as a Man of Jam.He has 8” x 10” black and white photos of his family through the years and and of his banner moments lining the walls of his simple wooden sales shed on the Wiscasset pier where he has a large inventory jams crammed on the tables.
Since 2012, Ron’s stand “Forgotten Recipes” has been strategically placed between two of the most popular lobster roll stands on Route 1, Sprague’s Famous shares the pier and Red’s is right across the Route 1 at the foot of the Wiscasset bridge over the Sheepscot River.
Besides their famous lobster rolls, one thing that Red’s and Sprague’s have in common is a constant long line of customers.What do you do when your friend is waiting in line for you?Shop for jam, of course!Brilliant marketing strategy! Make your product readily available to the bored, captive, hungry customer!And waiting to eat lobster isn’t the only waiting that goes on in town.
The backups to pass through Wiscasset and over the bridge can be epic on holiday weekends in the summer.
Ron’s sales pitch is as sweet, deliberate, simple, and sincere as the products themselves:
Triple berry (Ron’s) wild blueberry (100 year old secret recipe), strawberry rhubarb, blueberry rhubarb, and a few sugar-free options, too.Apple butter, Onion cucumber tartar sauce, zucchini relish, and sweet honey mustard
There’s a list of “no’s” that he has posted in his shed, which includes: no artificial preservatives, no high fructose corn syrup, no food colors, no artificial flavors, and no MSG.
Ron isn’t planning to retire for another 17 years or so & aspires to live to 108, so you’ve still got time to visit him.