The state of agriculture in Maine is a topic that (surprise, surprise) I’m frequently asked to weigh in on, and am generally delighted to do so. Recently my thoughts have turned to our economy, recognizing that our local agriculture will thrive (and does thrive) where incomes are adequate, food choice is just that, and the consumer consciousness is active and engaged. While I’m not a scholar and certainly not an economic planner, I am a Mainer, and pragmatism often stands in where professionalism falls short.
In reading Clarence Day (see last week’s post) I see Maine’s recurring theme of exporting our production and our wealth (be it in farm products, fish, forests, or talent) for the profit of others and it got me thinking about the difference between exporting goods when domestic consumption is supplied at home or within the local market versus exporting goods when local supplies are largely imported. Which of course gets me mentally tumbling down a rabbit hole linked by vulnerability-poverty-systemic change-education-culture-awareness-self sufficiency. You get the drift.
In many food conversations, food security revolves around hunger, or if we happen to be on the processor/distributor side of things, regulation and safety. The rarer conversation is that of the security of being able to produce, process, hunt, preserve, sell, and improve our own food. You can take this topic at the family level or the state, according to your tastes. I enjoy the latter, seasoned by the former.
One project making a main course of family food security is a project in Damariscotta called FARMS. Their aim is to educate about the sources and uses of local and healthy foods, and offer a space where families can prepare and preserve their harvests. Community kitchens are a very common dream for towns and families around the state and I expect to see more of these initiatives as time goes by. There are a few underway already. This project is but a small number of days (3) and $1873 (hopefully less by the time you click the link!) away from building such a resource in their locale. You might choose to support them financially, become involved if you live in the area, or follow the model if you want such an opportunity in a town near you.
While Crown O’Maine’s job is to move Maine goods around the state, it is our goal to do that in a way that advances the local foods movement as intentionally and intelligently as possible. I see self sufficiency as both, and that COM makes Maine more self-sufficient while families statewide plant gardens and initiatives like FARMS take off.