The coronavirus pandemic changed much about the way Mainers live, work, and recreate. It has impacted Maine farms and food, but nonetheless, many are more accessible than ever this year. Thankfully, we can still safely enjoy Maine agriculture. Stores, farm stands, farmers’ markets, and agritourism sites adopted effective new practices. As a result, there continue to be terrific opportunities to explore, experience, discover, and connect with Real Maine foods and farms this season!
Follow these tips when planning agricultural experiences:
- Always call ahead or check online to verify the details of the business or event you plan to visit.
- Stay home when feeling any symptoms of illness.
- Wear a mask in all public spaces, and observe social distancing measures.
- Visit the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry’s webpage, COVID-19 Information for Agriculture and Food Businesses for extensive coronavirus-related information for farms, businesses, and consumers.
Shop at the farmers’ market
There are winter farmers’ markets in many communities across Maine (see the winter 2020-2021 list here). They offer fresh and prepared foods, including fresh vegetables and baked goods, all winter long. Many have pre-order options to simplify your shopping and make it particularly fast and safe. Maine farmers’ markets and farm stands have special protocols in place to ensure the safety of shoppers and vendors this year. (Hours and availability may change, so check for the latest updates before heading out.)
Find the perfect holiday decorations
For those who celebrate Christmas, selecting a Christmas tree and other natural evergreen decorations is an important part of the annual tradition. Fresh Christmas trees are easy to find in Maine starting in November. Consider finding a pick-your-own tree farm, and make a family outing to select and cut your tree! (Some farms will even let you select your tree in the early fall, then return to pick it up in December, already cut and packaged for easy transport.) Purchasing locally made decorations such as wreaths and kissing balls also helps to support Maine agricultural producers.
Explore brews, ciders, and wines
The cold months are a good time to learn more about Maine’s wineries, cideries, and breweries. Though many tasting rooms are closed due to the pandemic, it’s easy to find exciting and diverse local beverages. Some offer home delivery, others offer easy ordering for local pickup. Many are available in your local liquor or specialty store.
Visit an online marketplace
Although Maine’s agricultural fairs were canceled this year, two of them created online marketplaces: the Fryeburg Fair and the Common Ground Country Fair. Read about their online marketplaces, and check out the opportunities to order Maine-made products online in this October DownEast magazine article. Be sure to follow the Maine Association of Agricultural Fairs for news of volunteer opportunities for next year’s fair season.
Let’s support Maine’s farms and agricultural businesses in every season:
- Make holiday meals special by purchasing fresh, local ingredients.
- Visit farm websites—subscribe to blogs, newsletters and podcasts.
- Follow Maine farms on social media, offer testimonials, and share posts with friends.
- Bring a cooler and ice to ensure peak food quality—no matter where you buy it.
- Travel safe— harvest season is means peak road usage by farmers and the public.
- Ask farmers how to enjoy their farm products year-round: special recipes, storage tips, etc.!