Maine’s Farmers Markets are Community Hubs

By Ramona du Houx 

Maine has over 115 farmers’ markets from Madawaska to Kennebunk, and Eastport to Newfield. Each year special events at the some of the markets include music, children’s activities, contests, and more as part of a program developed by the Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets (MFFM).

“Farmers’ markets are excellent sources for local food in Maine, particularly since the region’s farms tend to offer a wide diversity of products,” said Leigh Hallett, MFFM Executive Director. “Markets are also social places, where people can connect with friends and family, and really get to know their farmers in a fun, family-friendly, outdoor setting.”

Most Maine farmers’ markets are operated cooperatively by the market members, which creates a special atmosphere and unique variety of vendors.

Market farming in Maine dates back centuries, with significant growth in number over the last decade. When MFFM was founded in 1991, there were only about 30 summer markets, whereas now there are over 115. This growth reflects many cultural and economic factors.

Maine law states that it takes two or more farmers to make a “farmers’ market,” and they range in size accordingly from two to forty or more—the average is about 16 vendors per market.

Over the last decade, many people have sought food produced closer to home for ecological reasons, as well as for improved taste and freshness.

"Farmers' markets don't just get people outside, they bring people together and they bring them downtown. And thanks to innovative programs at the markets, healthy local food is within reach of people of all income levels,” said Joe Baldacci, Bangor City Mayor.

 With many markets accepting WIC and SNAP, and also serving as Senior Farm Share pickup sites, the community spirit and good food at farmers’ markets is increasingly accessible to a wide range of shoppers.

In addition to grocery staples at a range of price points, many farmers’ markets offer interesting specialty products, such as locally roasted coffee, flavored oils and vinegars, foraged mushrooms, artisanal cheeses, and local brews.

Some also offer unique services, including chair caning, knife sharpening and specialized designs from a blacksmith (in Waterville).

The statewide directory: mainefarmersmarkets.org.