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Top Agricultural Attractions and Farmers Markets in Maine
It’s no surprise that Maine has fantastic agricultural attractions — the state is home to generations of family farmers and a culture that has valued farm-to-table long before the term had even been coined. In Maine, roadside farm stands and weekly farmers markets are a beloved staple of everyday life. It’s not uncommon to still find unstaffed cash boxes, dependent on the honor system. Other agricultural attractions have long been favorites of the state as well.
Best Farms to Visit
Smiling Hill Farm is owned and operated by a 12th-generation family, and visitors are always welcome. Free and open to the public, Smiling Hill allows you to help with farm chores, feed and pet the animals, buy the farm’s fresh produce and cheese from the market or just stroll around, enjoying life on the farm. Little has changed since the 1700s, and you can see the pride the Knight family has in their farm.
Pineland Farms in New Gloucester is situated on 5,000 acres of farmland and offers a number of family programs designed to educate and inspire guests. There are daily farm activities, like milking cows, collecting eggs or brushing a bunny. They also offer seasonal workshops throughout the year to learn how to make butter, ice cream, salsa, and dilly beans and to learn maple sugaring.
The Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment is another wonderful place to learn about Maine farming. Located in Freeport, the center is free and open to the public from dawn to dusk and offers inexpensive educational programs for the whole family. Children can help with farm chores, go on a goat hike, or see how they tend and milk their herd of cows and sample Stonyfield Farm’s yogurt made from the milk. There are birding walks and a program where you harvest your own breakfast ingredients, which are then prepared by the farm chef.
Just the term “Farmers Market” heightens the senses to the sights, sounds, smells and, especially, tastes. In Maine, you’ll dial it all up a notch, because the produce here is as fresh as fresh gets. The baked goods taste right out of the oven. The arts and crafts feature the kind of creativity and handcrafting Maine is famous for.
Outdoor Winter Attractions
Few things are more welcoming in winter than the warm-hearted feeling you get at a Maine winter farm market. This is the place to find the best of local foods, including fresh produce, baked goods, cheese and meats. Plus, great Maine-made arts, crafts and gifts. It’s a great way to support the local folks who are always happy to make your acquaintance — and to make your winter a little brighter and tastier.
Pick Your Own
The only thing that makes a ripe, juicy piece of fresh fruit better is if you picked it yourself, in Maine. There are tons of ways to make that happen at pick-your-own farms and orchards throughout the state. Blueberries and apples are always top of mind, but you can also get your hands on the very best strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and peaches. It all depends on the time of the year and your fresh-fruit state of mind.
Early September is the time to sink your teeth into the first set of ripe apples in Maine (please pull them from the tree first). With pick-your-own orchards and farms in plentiful supply, you’ll have more options than you could shake an apple-on-a-stick at. At that time of year, you’re likely to find a hayride, corn maze or apple cider stand. You’ll find upward of twenty varieties of Maine apples over the course of the apple picking season — and never a shortage of fun.
Blueberries are to fruit what lobster is to seafood in Maine. In other words, the best. You can taste test them for yourself at the end of July and early August, as the blueberries ripen at pick-your-own farms throughout the state. There’s a reason the wild blueberry (aka low-bush blueberry) is Maine’s official state fruit. Turns out Maine’s glacier-churned soil and hardy seasons produce a smaller berry than the high-bush variety. Resulting, as their fans are quick to tell you, in a juicier, more flavorful berry — and a delicious, fun-filled, fresh-picked experience.
With waves of agriculture rolling across the state like the ocean off our coastline, it’s only natural that there are countless fairs and festivals across Maine, each celebrating in its own special way the bounty and the beauty that comes from this amazing patch of earth. Which is a long way of saying: Grab the family and check this out. Here are some free samples.
Maine Potato Blossom Festival, Fort Fairfield
You’ve heard of mash-ups? This one is literal. For over 70 years, Aroostook County has hosted The Maine Potato Blossom Festival in Fairfield Fort. Potatoes are considered Aroostook County’s agricultural cornerstone. For nine days each July, the potato-loving world is invited to enjoy more than 80 events, including a family day of fun on the Aroostook River, plus entertainment, fireworks and mashed potato wrestling — which has to be seen, and tasted, to be believed.
Maine Wild Blueberry Weekend, Statewide
The Wild Blueberry Weekend honors Maine’s delicious, healthy and iconic wild blueberry in all its antioxidant glory. It’s a statewide event, with Mainers and visitors invited to celebrate the official state fruit and enjoy food, drink and the beautiful bounty of the Maine summer. Participating will be 15+ wild blueberry farms and 40+ restaurants, bars, wineries and distilleries. It’s in early August, to align with the first crop of the blueberry season.
Common Ground Fair, Unity
Could there be a better-named town than Unity to host an agricultural fair celebrating organic living, farming and growing? The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association didn’t think so either, so Unity has been just the place since 1977. It’s also been the watchword for responsibility, innovation and creativity. Highlights are a working organic farm, organic orchards and demonstration gardens, with hundreds of exhibitors, music, dance and amazing organic foods.
Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta, Damariscotta
For 10 days in early August, the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta promotes horticultural education in the science of growing Atlantic Giant Pumpkins. Didn’t know AGPs were a thing? In Maine, they’re massive, growing to weights between 400 and 700 pounds. That’s where the regatta part comes in — in the form of gargantuan, hollowed-out pumpkins to be paddled or piloted (some have motors attached) in a race in Damariscotta Harbor.
Harvest on the Harbor, Portland
Stroll the streets of Portland and it’s impossible to miss the enticing aromas from the local restaurants and eateries. Surf the food channels or skim some epicurean magazines and it’s impossible to miss Portland’s mercurial rise in the foodie chain. Harvest on the Harbor goes all in to serve it all up, celebrating Portland and Maine’s local and independently owned restaurants and their crave-worthy, award-garnering cuisine, beers, ciders, wines and spirits. Enjoy.