6 May 2020

Maine Agriculture: Things to See and Do In Winter – Explore Wintry Trails

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Agritourism is a familiar tradition in Maine, offering a chance for people to learn about farming and its importance to local economies. Many folks may be most familiar with spring, summer and fall activities that offer a hands-on or behind the scenes view of Maine’s working landscapes. The chances to meet farmers, support local agriculture, and visit farms continue throughout the year in Maine. Wintertime offers a variety of ways to meet local farmers and learn more about Maine farms and their contributions to Maine’s quality of place and space.

Here is a way you can enjoy winter on a farm while supporting local farmers:

Explore Wintry Trails

The working landscapes of Maine farms preserve open landscapes, offer scenic views, and provide food. When the season changes to winter, the landscape offers different ways to experience the lay of the land outside Maine’s growing season. Several Maine farms open their land to cross country skiers and snowshoers. Many offer groomed trails.

Harris Farm in Dayton offers 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 of Harris Farm says, “In order to diversify and make room for the next generation, our family started a 25-mile ski business on our 500-acre farm 30 years ago. This helped to preserve the land from development. 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.”

Some of the trails are open to fat bikes, which they rent on-site. Snowshoes are also available to rent, and there is a hill for sledding.

Warm-up by the woodstove in the lodge afterward and, if you are there on a weekend, refuel with a hot dog and a glass of Harris Farm chocolate milk. Guests are welcomed to bring their own meals to eat in the lodge’s sunroom.

Five Fields Farm, an apple farm in Bridgton near the White Mountains, also offers cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Rentals of both are available on-site. The farm’s groomed trail loops around the orchards and connects with the logging roads between them. Links to the Loon Echo Land Trust on Bald Pate Mountain can also be accessed from the farm. Experienced skiers can make the 20-minute backcountry trek on the ungroomed trail to the summit for spectacular views of numerous ponds and lakes.

Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, on 5,000 acres of farmland, is yet 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 in addition to a plentiful selection of locally sourced food products to take home.

Smiling Hill Farm, just outside of Portland, also offers cross country skiing and rentals. The groomed trails run throughout the farm and terrain is varied, from hilly up-down skiing to more level trails through the woods.