Maine’s Farms Open Their Doors to Visitors
By Everett Potter
At a time when phrases like “organic,” “farm-to-table” and “free-range” have never been more popular, the traditional American farm has never been more in fashion. That’s why Maine’s Open Farm Day should prove to be a very special day in the state. As a lifelong summer resident of Maine, I’ve been intrigued to watch the state become a true food destination. In a state with so many James Beard finalists and winners every year, the cherry on the top, so to speak, was Portland being named Bon Appetit’s Restaurant City of the Year in 2018.
The rural farming traditions have now come to the fore. Pairing their produce and meats with the fresh seafood readily available, Maine’s chefs have run with these local resources. Now visitors have a chance of getting closer to the heart of the Maine food scene with a visit to a local farm.
For one day each year, Maine’s farmers open their doors and welcome visitors to learn and experience life on a farm. The 30th annual Open Farm Day is on July 28 and more farmers than ever are joining in to offer classes, tastings and demonstrations to anyone interested in learning more about the source of handmade cheeses, fresh produce and grass-fed meat.
The program includes
Hands-on Learning for Kids: Children can see cows and goats being milked, taste a pea straight from the garden, and see lambs frolicking. Many farms have fun activities geared toward kids like Micmac Farms in Caribou, with free tours of the trout hatchery and children’s games. At Rockin’ Sheep Farm in Livermore Falls, you can step back in time and watch a blacksmith work on a coal forge, pet the lambs and sheep, learn about chickens, and pet the cow and calf.
Southern Maine Farm Walk: Take a four-mile walk from farm to farm on the Springvale Farm Walk. Three Rivers Land Trust serves a hearty breakfast from 8 to 9:30 a.m. at McDougal Orchards to get you started. Each farm along the way serves a complimentary refreshing drink. A few of the farms also sell produce and prepared food. Stops include Our Farm for farm-raised meats; Rivard Farm, a pick your own high-bush blueberry and raspberry operation; Ferment Farm for fermented foods and drinks; and the Noon Family Sheep Farm for organic lamb sausage and more.
Cheese-Lovers Outing: Farms like the Turning Page Farm in Monson have samples of small-batch goat cheese and beer; Balfour Farm in Pittsfield has a variety of cheeses and cultured dairy products; and Seal Cove Farm in Lamoine offers award-winning artisan goat cheese.
The complete guide to participating farms can be found here.