STATE — Farmers across the state are opening barn doors to the public on Sunday, July 27, for the 25th annual Maine Open Farm Day. 

The bounty of the farmer’s table will be matched by the number of farms — close to 90 from all 16 counties — holding open house for consumers to learn about what it takes to live and work on a farm. 

The day, according to Roberts Farm and Preserve Site Coordinator Daniel Rennie, is a chance for food consumers to “understand what it is farms are doing.” 

Like farms across the state, Roberts Farm will host educational lectures and tours, as well as provide expertise on how they grow food.  

Along with state trends, the farm has seen the amount of produce it sells to the community grow in the past several years. In addition to increased distribution of produce through shares in its community-supported agriculture program, its has increased the fresh produce sold to the Oxford Hills school district. 

It’s a growing industry.

In a press release earlier this week, Gov. Paul LePage tauted the state’s agriculture as a job creator. Since 2007, local farmers have contributed more than $763 million to the state’s economy, while job growth in the industry has increased 28 percent in the past five years. 

The day will also showcase agritourism, a niche in the farming sector that encourages visits and tours. 

It’s a model Pietree Orchard in Sweden uses to encourage tours and visits of their 105-acre farm. Nestled in western Maine, the farm attracts summer visitors vacationing on the area’s lakes, as well as the local community. 

“We’re kind of the oddball in the area,” a farm worker said Friday. 

Pietree will have walking tours of the grounds every half hour and lectures about farm practices and political issues impacting the industry. 

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb, who owns a farm in Belfast, urged families to spend the day outside. 

“All across Maine, you can visit dozens of small farms — farms with vegetable stands and market gardens; farms with hay rides and home bakeries; farms with sheep, cows, horses, rabbits, pigs or chickens; farms and farm owners who want to show you a fascinating cross-section of life growing out in the Maine countryside,” Whitcomb said. 

Most participating farms will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., though attendees are encouraged to check with the local farmer. 

Participating Oxford County farms: 

BaahhummBuzz — Dixfield
Beech Hill Farm & Bison Ranch — Waterford
DeerWood Farm & Gardens — Waterford
Harvest Moon Produce — West Paris
Pietree Orchard — Sweden
Pooh Corner Farm — Bethel
Roberts Farm Preserve — Norway
Sunshine Daydream Farm & Gardens — Brownfield
Thunder Hill Farm — Waterford

Participating Androscoggin County farms: 

Boothby’s Orchard — Livermore
From the Country Farm — Leeds
Harvest Hill Farms — Mechanic Falls
Nezinscot Farm — Turner

Participating Franklin County farms: 

Black Acres Farm — Wilton
Morrison Hill Orchard — Farmington
The Good Life Center — Brooksville
Whitehill Farm — East Wilton

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