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Farmer’s Roundtable to connect producers, consumers

By Ann Bryant, Sun Journal

FARMINGTON, Maine — Nearly a dozen local farmers will connect with members of the community Tuesday during a Farmers Roundtable on locally produced foods.

The informational session is open to the public at no charge. It will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. March 12 in Room 205 in Ricker Addition at the University of Maine at Farmington.

Sponsored by the UMF Sustainable Campus Coalition and York Family Farm’s Sandy River Market, the discussion will allow farmers to share what products they supply and consumers’ options for buying foods.

There are some barriers for both the producer and consumer of locally grown foods, said Lillian Lake at a Maine Fiddlehead Festival committee meeting Friday at the Homestead Restaurant in Farmington. It can be difficult for food producers to reach consumers, and consumers sometimes struggle with availability of product when it’s needed and cost, she explained.

The Farmers Roundtable is expected to open a discussion. She said she has seen more interest in buying local foods, especially from students in classes where she has spoken.

This is the second of three events before the second annual Maine Fiddlehead Festival on May 4 in Farmington.

A lard rendering class was previously held and following the Farmers Roundtable, a Fiddlehead Soup Cook-Off is planned from 2 to 4 p.m. April 27 at Calzolaio Pasta Company in Wilton.

Cooks must preregister and create their soup in a licensed kitchen. The public can vote on their favorite. The winner will be announced during the festival and the recipe included in 100 gift bags given to the first 100 people who register for the festival.

The Maine Fiddlehead Festival is expected to become an annual event, said Luke Kellett, chairman of the UMF Sustainable Campus Coalition, one of the festival sponsors.

Other sponsors include the UMF Partnership for Civic Advancement, Farmington Downtown Association, Western Mountains Alliance and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

Last year, the UMF Sustainable Campus Coalition, which promotes sustainable practices on campus and in the community, began talking about holding a festival. Grace Eason, associate professor of science at UMF and festival committee member, also started talking about local foods and food securities as part of her classes on environmental studies.

From there, the coalition began working with community groups. The result was the first festival held last May.

This year, the festival includes a downtown antique tractor parade, morning and afternoon sessions, including local food demos and Fiddlehead cooking demonstrations, a farmers market at the Emery Community Art Center, and a fiddlehead walk based on identification and habitat sponsored by the Franklin County Ag Task Force.

The day ends with a community discussion on the next steps for supporting a Franklin County food system.


Distributed by MCT Information Services


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