I recently attended a Bangor Greendrinks event that featured Maine farmers talking about why they farm, how they farm and how the rest of us can support Maine’s farms. This event featured a great film documenting life on the farm from a large potato and dairy farm operation to smaller farms harvesting for individuals and farmers markets. Produced for the Maine Farmland Trust – “Meet Your Farmer” is a must see! This film will give you new appreciation for farm life and why we should support Maine farmers.
I was struck by how many young people and families are taking up farming or carrying on family farming traditions. It was so nice to see a commitment to Maine, a commitment to the land and the blending of the old ways with the new. A panel of farmers spoke about the joys and challenges of farming in Maine. A common theme that emerged was that farming is a business – it is a constant learning experience – it is a lifestyle choice – farmers in Maine support each other – they are passionate about what they do - and they need our support!
I am planning to do just that by buying into a CSA. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and allows anyone to buy a “share” of a farm to “share” in the risk and the bounty. Most CSA’s work like this – you pay a one time fee (averaging a couple hundred bucks for the season) and in turn you receive a weekly delivery of goodies from the farm! Depending on the farm – this may include veggies, flowers, dairy products, meats and more! Most CSA’s offer pick-ups at area farmers markets. Some farmers offer the option of working off your fee - a great option if you like getting your hands dirty and want to work on a farm without owning one!
But if the thought of owning your own farm appeals to you. There is farmland available in Maine to purchase or lease. Many of the young farmers who spoke at the Greendrinks event are leasing farmland that is part of an effort to preserve and conserve land for farming. You can learn more by visiting the website for the Maine Farmland Trust – www.mainefarmlandtrust.org
For the rest of us who enjoy the bounty of fresh fruits, veggies and flowers but who cannot farm on our own – consider buying a share of a farm through a CSA and be sure to visit the local farmers markets for fresh goodness in season! By doing so you’ll reap the benefits of the harvest, eat well and support your local farmers! I can’t wait for the first tomatoes!
For more information about CSA’s and farmers markets visit www.mofga.net and www.getrealmaine.com. To learn more about the film “Meet Your Farmer” visit www.meetyourfarmer.org