Agritourism is a familiar tradition in Maine. People enjoying visiting farms and learning about farming and its importance to local economies. The chances to meet farmers, support local agriculture, and visit farms continue throughout the year. Wintertime offers a variety of ways to meet local farmers and learn more about Maine farms and their contributions to Maine’s quality of life. As long Maine winters stretch towards spring, Maine’s working landscapes offer different ways to experience the lay of the land.
Maine Agriculture: Things to See and Do in Winter:
Explore Wintry Trails
Harris Farm in Dayton has nearly 25 miles of trails across open fields and through forests. This 500-acre dairy and vegetable farm offers a variety of trails ranging from relatively flat beginners’ loops to rolling terrain for the more advanced.
Rachel Harris says, “our family started a 25-mile ski business on our farm 30 years ago. Cross country skiing naturally complements our retail store by increasing traffic during a slower time of year and brings in new customers who may not be aware of us.”
Snowshoes and fat bikes are also available to rent, and there is a hill for sledding. If you are there on a weekend, refuel with a glass of Harris Farm chocolate milk from cows who helped the farm earned the Maine Dairy Farmer of the Year/Greener Pastures Award in 2021. Guests are welcomed to bring their own meals to eat in the lodge’s sunroom.
At Nezinscot Farm in Turner, you’re just a short drive from the city hubbub to outdoor exploration at the farm’s Maine Outdoor Wellness Center. Grab some goodies from the farm café, or browse the fiber studio for local fiber products that will keep you warm!
Five Fields Farm, an apple farm in Bridgton near the White Mountains, is home to cross country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. Rentals of both are available on-site. The farm’s groomed trail loops around the orchards and connects with logging roads between them. Connect to the Loon Echo Land Trust on Bald Pate Mountain from the farm. Experienced skiers can make the 20-minute backcountry trek on the ungroomed trail to the summit for spectacular views.
Pineland Farms in New Gloucester is another place you can take to the trails. They also rent cross country skis, snowshoes and fat bikes. A sledding hill and ice-skating pond round out the fun winter activities that can be enjoyed here. When you are ready to take a break, the Market at Pineland Farms serves soups, sandwiches, and hot beverages. They also offer a plentiful selection of locally sourced food products to take home. If your travels take you to the north woods, you’ll find Pineland Farm’s general store in Monson. Nearby there are trails, including the entrance to the 100-mile wilderness and the famed Appalachian Trail.
Go For a Sleigh Ride
High View Farm in Harrison has been in the Winslow family since 1810. When the snow flies, it is transformed into a winter wonderland. Guests enjoy a real over-the-river-and-through-the-woods experience as they board the Winslow’s sleigh to be pulled through snow covered fields by a team of Belgian draft horses. The stop in the woods for hot chocolate and marshmallows by a roaring fire is a special treat.
Darcy Winslow, who owns and operates the farm with her husband William, said, “It’s an excellent way for family and friends to enjoy winter in all its snowy glory. Nothing compares to witnessing a Maine winter at a sleigh’s pace.”
Winterberry Farm in Belgrade is another option for those looking to step back into yesteryear. The farm’s pair of Haflinger horses, Nestor and Ginger, guide guests around the perimeter of the farm in an old-fashioned sleigh built in the 1870s. Those who want to be hands-on are welcomed to help harness up the team. Winterberry also offers a “Maine’s Ultimate Comfort” sleigh ride, a two-hour experience that includes a toasty fire and a pot of soup.
Meet Furry Friends
A Ten Apple Farm goat hike is a two hour educational and recreational goat experience. The hike consists of an approximately one and a half mile loop through the woods on lightly groomed trails. Along the way you’ll learn about the wide variety of things goats are used for, including dairy, fiber, land management, as pack animals, and a thing or two about raising and caring for goats. After the hike, sample some fresh goat milk and cookies!
Or plan a visit to Cape Newagen Farm to walk one of their alpacas on a beautiful island woodland trail with local farm owners as your guide! Alpacas are a quiet, curious animal. “When trekking with one of our alpacas, you will leave behind the stress of work and busy schedules to experience the peaceful calm of our alpacas in this magical island setting”! Plan for at least seventy five minutes learning about alpacas and walking, talkingand feeding while cozying up with one of these soft creatures for a moment you will treasure!
Celebrate the Arrival of Spring
Maine Maple Sunday® falls at the end of winter. This year it is Sunday, March 27, 2022. This statewide tradition celebrates the changing seasons—a reflection on the experiences of winter. It is also a reminder that while the seasons change, and something sweet is happening behind the scenes year-round in Maine agriculture. Listen to Maine sugarmakers talk about some of the behind the scenes efforts.
Maple syrup, of one of Maine’s prized winter “crops”, begins on the working landscapes and sugarbushes as farmers’ maple trees. Producers harvest sap from the trees and turn it into maple products.
Always the fourth Sunday in March, Maine Maple Sunday® is a time-honored tradition where producers open their doors to the public for a day of maple syrup making and tours. There are also plenty of opportunities to sample the sweet stuff in all its forms – from straight-up maple syrup to maple candies to Maine ice cream drizzled in syrup.
It’s a great way for the entire family to get out and about, celebrating a Maine winter and future bounties.