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2008 Southern Aroostook ‘Buy Local’ farm calendar
This calendar hopes features maps of 41 farms in southern Aroostook that sell direct to the consumer through roadside stands or on the farm.
Farmers and gardeners are an intrinsic part of Maine’s seasons and are affected by nature’s deliverances more than anyone else. Within the day to day routines of the regular world, we may happen to notice a summertime field lined with hay bales as we make our daily commute to an office job, or we may get stuck traveling behind a rumbling truck filled with potatoes in the fall, but how many of us know what our farming community really has to offer for agricultural diversity? How many people know where to buy local pork, lamb or a side of beef for their family’s freezer? Are there farmers growing strawberries? What farm offers u-pick raspberries? Fresh eggs? How about sweet corn and summer squash?
The 2008 Southern Aroostook Soil and Water Conservation District calendar hopes to answer these questions and more by featuring maps of farms in southern Aroostook that sell direct to the consumer through roadside stands or on the farm. This project began, in part, to support our region’s preservation of family farms. Part of that support is to educate the public of where to buy food locally and, in the process, make the connection that planting dollars close to home strengthens our communities.
Forty-one farms are listed, from Bridgewater to Sherman. Farms like third generation farmer Dale Boutilier who grows potatoes with his son Darren in Oakfield. Thirty three years ago, there were roughly 30 potato farmers in Oakfield and the three surrounding towns. Today, Dale and his son are the only potato growers left. Dale attributes part of the loss to farmers retiring and having no one to pass the farm on to. Dale is lucky in that he has Darren, who has farmed beside him ever since he was a boy. Together they plant about 100 acres, rotating with grain. While most of their harvest ends up at a local processing plant here in the County and in Rhode Island, the sense of community remains with friends and neighbors stopping by the Boutilier’s potato house to buy the Norwiss and Dark Red Norlands direct.
Then there are the Brannen’s. Kevin Brannen’s hobbies of tapping maple trees and starting bee hives grew into a local business with his wife Kristi. Spring Break Maple and Honey, located in Smyrna Mills, supplies stores with maple syrup and honey from the tip of northern Maine to the south. Kevin and Kristi credit Heart of Maine’s Tilling the Soil of Opportunity class with helping them grow their farm business with focused goals and a business plan. The local community continues to be a support base for their products as their business grows through distribution, web sales and their on-farm store.
There is also Larry Scott who owns Boutilier’s Florist and Garden Center in Hodgdon. Larry gives back to the community by selling as many local farm products as he can. Along with beef from his own Scott Farms, he provides an additional outlet for producers of local pork, eggs, chickens and such seasonal and wild foraged items as berries and fiddleheads. Shop at Larry’s and you are not only supporting his business, but those of his farmer neighbors as well.
The Southern Aroostook Soil and Water Conservation District’s ‘Buy Local’ farm calendars celebrate those farms that are part of Aroostook County’s agricultural diversity and continuing heritage.
The calendars are being sold for $5 each with the proceeds being used to send two children to Tanglewood 4-H Camp next summer. The calendars are available at the SASWCD office, 304 North St, Houlton or buy phoning 532-9407 ext 3 for additional outlets.
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