MACHIAS, Maine — More than five dozen farmers and supporters of local agriculture gathered at a “Meet Your Farmer” food and film event Wednesday night at the University of Maine at Machias.
“Most people have no idea where their food comes from,” Anna Abaldo of Maine Farmland Trust said. But by the end of the evening at Machias, they knew that milk comes from Tide Mill Farms in Edmunds, spicy chevre comes from Gardenside Dairy in Jonesboro, fresh vegetables from Ted Carter in Alexander and creamy yogurt comes from Tide Mill Creamery.
They also were able to meet each farmer and ask questions about their individual operations. Samples from the farms were available, along with information on the Farm to School Program, scythes, the Machias Marketplace and Maine Farmland Trust, one of the event’s sponsors. Other sponsors included Washington County: One Community, Downeast Coastal Conservancy and the Washington County Food and Fuel Alliance.
Abaldo said that Maine has 1.3 million acres of prime farmland but at least a third of that is threatened with development as it is in the hands of older farmers, many of whom have no family member in line to take over the farm.
Programs operated by Maine Farmland Trust, such as FarmLink, that connect young potential farmers with available land at reasonable costs, are invaluable for the overall success of Maine agriculture, she said.
“FarmLink has provided 60 links in the last few years, making it the most successful program of its kind in the country,” Abaldo said.
Those attending also watched “Meet Your Farmer,” a collection of eight short films about Maine farmers, including Tide Mill Farm in Washington County. The film showed how several young farmers are leasing land that has been protected by Maine Farmland Trust to allow them to initiate farming or expand their operations.
Aaron Bell of Tide Mill said that he is leasing an additional Maine Farmland Trust-owned farm in Pembroke and a young farmer is now raising calves, heifers and 400 turkeys on the property.
The evening also provided consumers an opportunity to link with a local buying club and find out which farmers’ markets are available in the area.
“Don’t forget,” shouted Ted Carter. “Next Friday at Machias Farmers’ Market on the dike.”