Paying homage to Maine’s community of growers

I’m from away. (More specifically, I’m a “ flatlander,” or so I’ve been told.) I’ve lived in Maine for 34 years – just 60 percent of my life. Barely more than half of my time on the planet has been spent in Maine. I am not a Mainer in the traditional sense (generations of my family have not lived and died on Maine soil). But I believe, like so many of the Mainers I have come to know, that Maine is unique place to live. People talk about hardy Mainers and the sense of community that folks from here feel. People talk about neighbors and helping each other. These are also the common threads that stitch together the stories in this issue of Maine Women Magazine.

There are more than 8,000 farms in Maine, according to the USDA, and 93 farmers markets that, combined, contribute about $763 million to the state’s economy. Maine produces the most blueberries and is No. 2 in the maple syrup industry. Farming is a longtime way of life for some and a new lifestyle choice for many more. In this issue you will meet women who are new to farm life and others who were born into it. We’ve talked to small independent farmers and farmers from more large-scale operations – some who focus on one crop and others who have diversified and continue to add more to their lineup.

Penny Jordan is a fourth-generation farmer and one of four siblings who run Jordan’s Farm in Cape Elizabeth. In their business, they try new products all the time. Some, like kale, are winners; others, such as edamame, don’t stay around too long. Jordan says there are always the staples that most people want, like corn, peas, cucumbers and tomatoes, and there are lots of other kinds of produce that only some people want. You can read more about Penny Jordan on page 8.

Caitlin Hunter of Appleton Creamery believes that Maine is “ideally suited for small scale farms that sell locally.” Hunter has been raising goats since 1979 and making cheese since 1981. She began on Matinicus Island but eventually moved her operation to the midcoast town of Appleton, where she started the Appleton Creamery. “The best cheese comes from the happiest goats!” Read more about Hunter and why she believes that Maine is ideally suited to feed itself on page 32.

Lucy Benjamin of Lucy’s Granola and Abby Freethy of Northwoods Gourmet Girl agree that running a business in Maine is easier because the people are so supportive. When Freethy had to take a break due to breast cancer, her business kept going because of great employees and a supportive community. Read their stories starting on page 20.

These stories, and all the columns in this issue of Maine Women Magazine, touch on Maine as great place to live, work and farm. Thank you for reading and supporting our local business. Let us know what you think – we always want to hear from our readers.

Lee Hews

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