Farmers on the rise in Maine
Recent USDA census results showed that while agricultural land across most of the country has diminished, actually increased here in New England. Just as importantly, the number of young farmers has increased 40%, compared to a national average of less than 2%. And this new farmer energy has led to increased access to farm products. Local meats, cheeses, and vegetables abound, as do farmer’s markets and farm-to-table restaurants. Lucky us!
Here in Midcoast Maine we’re so fortunate to be surrounded by bountiful, well-run small farms and award-winning restaurants. We share here some local eateries, easily accessible from a home base in Camden, that showcase meats and vegetables directly from their own fields. Eat right from the source and support local farmers, farms, and restaurants… You’ll benefit from the freshest, healthiest food, grown with love on a family farm, a win-win for all involved!
This bucolic young farm in Montville offers a monthly Supper Club through the summer and a Taco Night on Fridays May – October. Supper is served family-style in a big old restored 19th-century barn. They raise pigs, chickens, vegetables, and flowers and offer their own farm-made hard cider. Owners Katee Lafleur and Andrew White say, “All of our farm products end up in our dishes that we cook during our weekly events. What you see on the land, you find in your glass and on your plate.”
This Belfast restaurant and bakery has earned several well-deserved James Beard nominations. A very popular vegetarian restaurant, Chase’s is only open for dinner on Fridays, so make sure you get a reservation! Otherwise, you can try their bountiful lunch, sample their baked goods, or check out the indoor farmer’s market in the summer. Their credo as expressed on their website will speak to the heart of any foodie: “Never have we looked for a platform to sing our own praises, and we will not do that here, only to say that our product—plate of food, inviting space, lively produce, hand-shaped loaf, convivial service—is the evidence of a commitment to sustainability. We want to feed you.”
For a unique Maine experience, this rustic island dining adventure is hard to top! On beautiful North Haven island, 12 miles offshore, enjoy a large, family-style feast featuring vegetables and meats raised right there on the farm. The five-course meal is served as the sun sets over the spruce-edged fields. Served Fridays and some Thursdays during summer months. Round-trip boat transportation from Rockland (10 mins. from Camden) available, so guests can enjoy the meal and return to the mainland in the same evening. (You can read more about the farm and its barn dinners here.)
Another island option is also available (with boat transportation) on Hurricane Island. About an hour by boat from the mainland, the island’s Center for Science and Leadership offers a multi-course Farm to Table Dinner in their dining hall on three special nights this summer.
James Beard-award winning chef Melissa Kelly has created something special in Rockland, Maine. Sited on a four-acre farm, Primo is much more than a restaurant. As Kelly says, “It is about love and respect for food. It is also about creativity… It is a continuous cycle that occurs throughout the restaurant with the kitchen, the animals and the gardens… Seasonal to the moment, it is actually the farm and the garden that make the incredible ever-changing menu.” Open May – December, reservations usually necessary, or you can try your luck at the upstairs lounge. Arrive early and stroll around the farm before you enjoy its bounty.