Homestead

The barn doors swing open for Open Farm Day

Posted July 14, 2016, at 6:21 a.m.

When meeting your farmer isn’t enough, be your own farmer — if only for a day. No, really, you can on July 24 at Open Farm Day.

This year, more than 80 farms across Maine, featuring everything from emus to wineries, will participate in the event, where the public is invited behind gates and barn doors to experience what life is like on the farm. It’s free.

Open Farm Day celebrates the art of agriculture.

“It is a great opportunity for farmers to teach people, provide educational experience and share skills like cheese making [and] gardening and you learn about what’s growing in the state,” said Samantha Howard, agricultural promotions coordinator for the Maine Department of Agriculture Conservation and Forestry, who runs the event. “It’s a chance to connect with farmers.”

Now in its 27th year, Open Farm Day is more popular than ever.

“In Maine the numbers of farms have been increasing, while in the rest of country the numbers have been declining,” said Howard.

Today Maine boasts 8,000 farms, said Howard, and “new people are getting into farming every year. We want to encourage that across the board.”

The state’s diverse farm scene, from fiber artists to vegetable farmers to goats, dairy, wine and cheese makers, will all be on display on July 24. You can learn how to milk a cow at Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook or how goat milk soap is made in Dexter. Weave next to a fiber artist and pick a few flowers on a lily farm. Many farms will have samples of the products they make, so come hungry and curious.

“As people become more interested in where their food is coming from, the local food movement is growing in the state,” said Howard. “It’s an educational opportunity geared towards families and communities interested in agriculture.”

To find out who is participating, go to getrealmaine.com.

 

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