Spring has officially begun. As the weather warms, our senses are welcoming signs of spring everywhere. A variety of choices make it easy to support Maine farms during every season. From seedlings to maple syrup to farm cafes, plan your spring Real Maine agricultural experience and connect to farms, food, and agriculture throughout Maine.
You could relieve stress by going to a farm for goat or lamb hugging. Or watch a sheep shearing demonstration, visit a maple sugarhouse, sample products at a brewery or distillery, or winery or cidery, tasting room, or attend a number of different workshops, talks, or field days. Some farms offer tours, while others offer self-directed visits. Be sure to use the Real Maine calendar to search for farm-specific events to help you map your course.
SIGN UP FOR A CSA
One of the most direct ways to engage with local farms and producers is to join a CSA and receive local, fresh fruit, vegetable, and flower shares. Some CSAs now offer a variety of baked goods, meats, cheeses, and value-added products to complement your produce order. You can choose a CSA that meets your level of need, convenience, and preferences. Subscription boxes and pre-ordering are good choices to help you build a local grocery list. Some add the convenience of delivery. If you prefer self-selecting local farm products, choose a share you can use at a farm or farm stand.
SENIOR FARMSHARE INVITES PARTICIPANTS, FARMERS
Maine Senior FarmShare, a program that provides eligible older adults the opportunity to receive a share (worth $50) of quality, fresh, local produce at no cost directly from local Maine farmers during the growing season, recently received funding to serve more eligible participants and farmers. Help spread the word and find out more here.
ENJOY A FARM-TO-TABLE MEAL
Having breakfast, lunch, or dinner at a farm café is an enlightening and delicious way to support local farms. Many, if not all, of the ingredients in your meal are grown or produced on the same property or only a few miles away. You can enjoy everything from wood-fired pizza to a several-course fine dining experience. Some cafés are seasonal, while others are open year-round. Here are some Real Maine members who have farm cafés – be sure to see if your local farm offers farm-to-table meals:
SEED(LING)S OF SPRING
Local farmers, nurseries, and greenhouses offer an ample supply of healthy, hardened seedlings ready for you to grow. Remember – plant your seedlings when the conditions in your area are right and many types of plants should be started indoors. Be sure to ask the professionals any questions you may have.
There are many places to find seedlings for your garden. Be on the lookout for local plant sales – garden clubs, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and other organizations often hold annual fundraisers in the spring with plants for sale. Farmers’ markets typically have vendors offering seedlings from early spring through June. Shoppers who use SNAP benefits may purchase fruit and vegetable seedlings using SNAP at participating farm stands and farmers’ markets. Some sites even provide additional incentives through the Maine Harvest Bucks program.
PLAN YOUR AGRICULTURAL EXPERIENCE
Start with these tips to enjoy farms and agricultural businesses throughout the state!
HELP KEEP FARMS HEALTHY
- Use good hygiene before, during, and after your visit
- Stay home if sick or not feeling well, or if you recently came in contact with ill people or animals
A WELCOME GUEST …
- Stays in visitor areas
- Follows visitor instructions and signage
- Remembers that not all farms are open to the public and some are only open during certain times of the year or in designated areas
- Keeps pets at home
- Plans to carry out any trash and recyclables
- Stick to established trails and roads. Not all roads are open to the public for vehicle or foot traffic.
- Avoid tailgating farm machinery
- Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Wear close-toed shoes that are easy to clean when you arrive and after your visit.
ENJOY YOUR PURCHASES
- Bring an insulated container when you shop: Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot for quality and freshness
- Always clean fresh produce before eating and preparing
- Ask farmers or makers how to enjoy farm products year-round!