FARMINGTON – A juried poster contest, “The Art of Eating Well,” was recently launched in Western Maine and a $1,000 first prize cash award is only part of the incentive the promoters hope will encourage Maine artists to participate.

“Eating well,” in this context, means eating as much fresh, locally grown, natural, unprocessed, unadulterated food as possible, opposed to the over-processed, road-weary variety, according to Paula Day of the Maine Alternative Agriculture Association.

The art contest will launch a new project to bring local farm products to consumers in the Farmington and Skowhegan areas. “Support from the artists is critical to us; we need a striking iconic image to make people think local when they are food shopping,” said Day.

Funded by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Mich., Western Mountains Alliance of Farmington has developed the concept of a vital local food system for Franklin and Somerset counties.

The idea is to encourage the local agricultural community to produce for the local community and to encourage local consumers to spend their food dollars on those products.

Hired by the alliance to implement the project, Day said the idea to bring Maine artists into the project came even before the details of how to create a viable local food system began to be worked out.

The technical difficulties involved in developing a serious, year-round local food supply is a matter of long-term coordinated efforts by farmers, agricultural experts and advisors, supermarket and institutional purchasing agents and regional distributors.

“We are asking for the help of the most creative people in our community to help make the connection we need with local consumers,” said Day. “The project needs a face.”

Besides the first place prize of $1,000, promoters are planning a series of exhibits of the best of the submissions to stimulate interest in the project. Art galleries and coffee houses have agreed to show the works, and the plan is to also exhibit them in schools, supermarkets and other retail establishments, and, it is hoped, at the State House in Augusta.

Submission deadlines are available on the Web at or by calling Tricia Cook at the alliance at 778-7274. Inquiries may also be made to Paula Day at Maine Alternative Agriculture Association by calling 696-8044 or e-mail [email protected] The submission deadline is Oct. 31.

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