BETHEL – Registrations are being accepted for the Bethel Historical Society course on Maine farming history, which covers the period from the 17th century to the present.

The course, coordinated by Society Director Stanley R. Howe, who has written and lectured widely on agricultural history topics, will begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 17, with a presentation on Maine farming from 1600 to the Civil War.

The class will focus on the origins of Maine agriculture with the Indians, colonial settlement, the rise of agricultural societies and various experiments to achieve prosperity in working the land.

The next class will be held on March 31 and will cover the years from 1860 to the present. The development on large scale operations will be studied along with the effect of western competition on Maine operations.

Also noted will be rise and fall of corn canning, dairy, potatoes and seed operations. The role of the University of Maine, the formation of the Department of Agriculture and the founding of the Cooperative Extension Service will be discussed as well.

On April 14, the topic will be Maine farm diaries and buildings, particularly barns and other outbuildings, and on April 28, farm organizations and the future of Maine farming will be the focus of the final class.

The course is open to anyone interested. Classes will be held at the society’s O’Neil Robinson House. The fee is $20 for nonmembers and $15 for members. Those wishing to register should call the society office at 824-2908 or 1-800-824-2910. Online registration is also possible at and fees can be paid at the first class on March 17.

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