PORTLAND, Maine — A record number of farms are opening their barn doors to the public for Maine’s 22nd annual Open Farm Day.
In all, 110 farms in all 16 counties are taking part in Sunday’s event, where visitors can watch farm activities and demonstrations ranging from milking to cheese-making, pick berries, tour barns, pet farm animals or go on hay rides. Farmers also have farm-raised products for sale and samples to taste. Most farms are open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., but some have extended hours.
About 50 farms participated in Open Farm Day in its early years, said Judy Ballard, agricultural promotions coordinator with the Department of Agriculture. The number has grown as people have come to seek out locally grown foods and the farmers who produce what they eat. Some farms get more than 500 visitors on Open Farm Day, she said.
“The number of farms has steadily increased over the years,” Ballard said. “I think a lot of it is the promotion of farms, and the ‘buy local’ movement has certainly provided a new revenue source for our farmers.”
As people have become more aware over the years of where their food comes from, the number of farmers markets around Maine also has risen. There are about 110 farmers markets in the state, up from 70 in 2007, she said.
Farmers and farmers markets are using social media such as Facebook and Twitter in getting the word out about their offerings, she said.
Mainers also have an interest in viewing farms up close because farming is part of the family history for many residents, with Maine being a rural state, Ballard said.
“We’re going back to our roots as far our agricultural heritage,” she said.