ELLSWORTH – The Grand presents¬† “Meet Your Farmer”,¬† 8 short films by Cecily Pingree and Jason Mann at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 26. Bell represents the 8th generation of his family working Tide Mill Farm in Edmunds.
“Maine has added 1000 farms in the past decade,” says John Piotti, executive director of Maine Farmland Trust, which commissioned the films. “The films are part of our effort to get out word about what’s happening with farming in Maine.” “The story of farming in Maine defies simple classification,” explains Piotti, who has worked with local farmers for over fifteen years. “It is at once robust and threatened. It is as diverse as Maine’s 8000 farms.”
Bell’s Tide Mill Farm, for instance, is a diversified farm raising vegetables as well as chickens, turkeys, pigs, and beef cattle. On top of that, they run a dairy operation, selling some of their milk directly and also participating in a newly formed cooperative of small dairy farms, called Maine’s Own Organic or “MOO” Milk.
As Piotti explains, Tide Mill Farm is benefiting from an increased interest in local and organic products, but they are also living the challenges of any farm operation, and the particular difficulties faced by dairy farms in light of historically low federal milk prices.
Another farm featured in the film series is Broad Turn Farm in Scarborough, where Stacy Brenner and John Bliss grow a broad array of vegetables which they distribute weekly to about 100 local families. These families pay at the beginning of the season for a share of the farm’s bounty, through an increasingly popular model called “Community Supported Agriculture” or a “CSA”.
Brenner and Bliss do not own their farm, but lease it from a local land trust. Despite growing consumer interest in local farm products, many would-be farmers are thwarted by the high cost of land in areas like Scarborough where consumer demand is high. As Piotti explains, one way for farmers to counter the high cost of farmland is to purchase land that has been preserved, paying a farmland price rather than a developer’s price. Another strategy is to lease land, as seen at Broad Turn Farm.
The other six films showcase Sandy River Farm in Farmington (dairy, beef, grain), Horsepower Farm in Penobscot (vegetables), Ayotte Farms in Hamlin (potatoes), Chase’s Farm and Restaurant in Freedom and Belfast (vegetables), Lakeside Orchard in Manchester (apples), and Reed Farm in Windsor (dairy).
“People love these films,” says Piotti. “They are both beautifully made and tell great stories about our farmers.”
After the screening at The Grand, Piotti will provide additional commentary to the films. The film makers and some farmers will be present to answer questions from the audience. A post-screening reception with coffee, supplied by The Grand, will be happening afterwards for those who wish to linger.
The package of films is entitled “Meet Your Farmer” and can be viewed on the web at www.meetyourfarmer.org.
Tickets for the Ellsworth screening of “Meet Your Farmer” can be purchased at The Grand (www.grandonline.org).
Additional theater shows will be scheduled throughout the summer and fall. For information on upcoming dates, visit www.mainefarmlandtrust.org.
Maine Farmland Trust is a statewide non-profit working to help keep farms vital. The organization both preserves farmland and helps support farmers through a myriad of programs. For more information on specific programs, visit Maine Farmland Trust located at 97 Main St. in Belfast or on the web at www.mainefarmlandtrust.org.
Contact Name: Erin Herbig Outreach Coordinator Maine Farmland Trust
Telephone Number: (207)338-6575