Last August, the Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets released a map that connected Washington County’s farmers’ markets to free outdoor recreation areas so that visitors to the markets could take advantage of both while in the area.
One year later, the federation has received funding to extend that trail of farmers’ markets down the coast, reaching as far south as Bath.
“We’ll be going from seven markets to probably … pushing 25,” Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets director Leigh Hallett said. “Someday I hope we have a vastly expanded project, but for now, I think this is going to be a really beautiful map including some very special markets.”
While a physical map was released last summer featuring the Washington County sites, the map, called the Maine Farmers’ Market Trail, we be redeveloped over the winter to include the additional markets and outdoor attractions for release in early spring, Hallett said.
The Quimby Family Foundation has provided the funding for the market trail funding, including the latest round of funding that will expand the project. The Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets is working with a cartographer in Belfast to ensure that the finished product is much more than just a map with points of interest on it.
“It’s more than just a trail map that shows just where these farmers’ markets are, it’s really a detailed map of the area to help people enjoy not only the local food, but the local beauty,” Hallett said.
The whole idea of having a farmers’ market trail map, was to not only highlight the farmers’ markets in a given area, but to pair those markets up with a nearby outdoor attraction or activity ― ranging from land preserves to historic walks. The outdoor activities included on the map are free and are suitable for families and people of all ages. The map features detailed information on each market, including products available and hours of operation.
By putting nearby activities on the farmers’ market maps, a trip to the farmers’ market can be turned into a daylong excursion.
“By saying ‘here’s a farmers’ market, here’s what it features for food and other products and here’s this fantastic little-known outdoor attraction,’ … it turns a trip to the farmers’ market into more of an excursion, aimed not just at locals but also at potential daytrippers and tourists,” Hallett said.
Hallett said having the trail follow along the coast was a good starting point due to the high volume of people ― from in-state and out-of-state ― that travel to the coast for day trips during the summer.
Versions of the existing Washington County Farmers’ Market Trail Map are available at market locations in Washington County as well as on the Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets website. As work begins on expanding the map down the coast, information will be updated on the website, in addition to the paper map being released in the spring.
The federation has paired with the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to help promote the map, meaning that once the new map is complete it will be available at tourism information centers across the state.
While the map is a useful tool for market shoppers and tourists, Hallett said it is also useful for farmers and farmers’ markets, providing them with a promotional tool and a way to demonstrate how Maine’s farmers’ markets are connected.
Hallett is hopeful that the growing trail map will serve as inspiration for folks to make the most out of their trips to the farmers’ market, and see what else the area around the market has to offer.
“[Our map] is really designed for folks to keep it in the car and when they wake up on a beautiful July morning and they have the day off, they can look at the map, see what markets are going on and make a family trip of it,” she said.