In Maine, as in the nation, farmers' markets are booming. Small-scale farmers are benefiting from the growing interest in healthy, organic food and the increasing desire many people share to cut energy use by eating what's local and seasonal. Farmers' markets are also a place where you can find oddball or heirloom veggies and all sorts of Maine-made products not available at standard grocery stores. Producers who go on to culinary fame often start at a farmers' market, before they can afford another retail outlet. Stonewall Kitchen, for instance, began this way. For more information on Maine's farms, view Maine Farms, Farm Tours, Farm Stand & Farmer's Market or Agricultural Attractions.
Maine's Farmers' Markets are Thriving
In Maine, the number of farmers' markets has jumped from 26 in 1990 and 54 in 2000 to over 60 now—and that number tells only part of the success story. Not only are there more markets, but the markets offer such a wide range of foods from June to October, that patrons can do most of their food shopping here. The quality is so high at the farmers' markets that some of the state's best chefs patronize them regularly. You can find out more about the state's farmers' markets at the State Department of Agriculture's website. Maine also has the oldest organic farmers' association in the nation.
Crystal Spring Farm Farmer's Market
Some say that on a sunny day, a visit to Crystal Springs Farm farmers' market in Brunswick can seem like being at a weekly block party. Visitors to the market, held every Saturday, are often entertained by a man who plays a saw or a bagpipe. Vendors sell maple butter, alpaca yarn, heirloom tomatoes such as the Black Prince and the Green Zebra, Romano beans, patty pan squash, purple potatoes, and all sorts of herbs and flowers. You can also find turkey sausage and locally raised beef, organic eggs, jams, pickles, scones, pies, goat cheese, Afghani naan and hummus, Chinese pot stickers and more.
Keough Family Farm
Richard Keough, of the Keough Family Farm in Hebron, sells lettuce he will pick on the spot, lopping off the tops of potted butterhead, red romaine or royal oak leaf as you watch.
Fresh Bread in Freeport
Bread maker Barak Olins sells loaves he bakes in a barn in South Freeport. He made his own tools, grinds his own organic flour, and uses wood from his land to fire the brick oven.
Foragers and Wild Edibles
Some foragers harvest indigenous Maine specialties such as fiddlehead ferns, all sorts of seaweed, and various mushrooms and herbs. The Maine Mycological Association invites newcomers to join its mushroom forays.
Maine also has the oldest organic farmers' association in the nation.