The Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets is pleased to announce there will be 115 summer farmers’ markets in Maine this season. With markets from Madawaska to Kittery, Eastport to Bridgton, most Maine residents will have ready access to farm-fresh local foods.
The number of farmers’ markets has been growing steadily, with a four-fold increase over the last 25 years. The oldest in the state is currently the largest: the Portland Farmers’ Market was founded in 1768, and now boasts more than 40 vendors. There are many other large markets (including in Blue Hill, Brunswick, Orono, and Kennebunk), but the average for a Maine farmers’ market is 16 vendors.
Thanks to provisions in state law, consumers can be confident that when they shop at a farmers’ market, they are buying food straight from the folks who produced it. And because Maine farms tend to be very diverse, even small farmers’ markets will boast a wealth of products. Hanne Tierney (Cornerstone Farm), president of the Portland Farmers’ Market Association, notes that “The farmers’ market landscape has changed so much in the last decade. There is a growing number of markets, and a growing customer base. There are more children and families at market. Product diversity has increased tenfold, to the point where now you can get most of your groceries at the farmers’ market.”
This year, more of those local products will be accessible to all, thanks to a new program called Maine Harvest Bucks. Thirty five farmers’ markets will be participating in Maine Harvest Bucks, a program that offers bonus fruits and veggies to shoppers using their SNAP/EBT cards (find the list of participating markets at maineharvestbucks.org). Several of the participating farmers’ markets are new to SNAP/EBT, such as the Rockland Farmers’ Market. Theresa Gaffney (Highland Organics), the Rockland market’s Treasurer, was one of the many market members who worked hard over the winter to set up the program. She explained their motivation, “Since farmers’ markets are offering the best local food produced and grown in Maine by folks living in this great state, it only makes sense to offer that local food to ALL people in Maine, including those who rely on SNAP benefits.”
So far this spring, the weather has been great for outdoor farmers’ markets (though very dry for farms). Sites around the state are reporting record turnouts for their early season markets, as people are eager to get outside, socialize, enjoy music, and sample local foods. MFFM Vice Chair Jack McAdam (of McDougal Orchards) reports, “I’m optimistic that it will be a good season!” To be a part of it all, locate your nearest farmers’ market or search local markets by day of the week at mainefarmersmarkets.org (or follow MFFM on social media).