FARMINGTON — The local food scene is the topic of two events planned for Wednesday, Feb. 25, at the University of Maine at Farmington.

The film, “Growing Local,” will be shown at 11:45 a.m. in Thomas Auditorium of Preble/Ricker Hall. From 6 to 8 p.m., a panel of UMF alumni who farm locally will share their stories, also in Thomas Auditorium.

The public is invited to attend both events.

The film, produced by Seedlight Pictures and the Maine Farmland Trust, explores the connection between Maine’s small farms, consumers and the local food movement.

Local farmers and UMF graduates Erica Emery and Dave Allen of Rustic Roots Farm in Farmington will answer questions after the film is shown.

Emery and Allen will also serve on the panel Wednesday evening, along with UMF graduates James Black of Black Acres Farm in Wilton, Andrew and Sarah Marble of Marble Family Farm in Farmington and Gloria Varney of Nezinscot Farm in Turner.

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“We want to connect our students with local farmers to hear why young people are coming back to the land,” said Grace Eason, professor of environmental and science education. “We also want to inspire them and show them not all farmers are old.”

While attending UMF, the Marbles studied biology; Varney, community health; Emery, English; and Black, social science education, she said.

But, they have taken different career paths.

“We want to focus on, highlight and celebrate local farmers,” she said. “These are former UMF alum who have chosen farming, either on a part-time or full-time basis. We want to ask them (about) their journey.”

The presentation is part of the Good Food Co-Lab taking place on campus this semester, she said. 

Five instructors who represent different studies — archaeology, economy, geography, conservation biology and environmental science education — are working together. The instructors are focusing their courses on good food and what it is, she said.

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Eason’s focus is on connecting students with an understanding of climate change and what it means for Maine, she said. It’s an abstract issue that raises questions of “what do we do now” and “how can we make a difference and practice sustainability?” she said. 

Class instruction focuses on where food comes from and how to minimize the trip from farm to table, she said. As part of that instruction, classes are looking at some amazing local farms, she added.

Another instructor is exploring how food has been treated historically, going from a hunter-gatherer diet to an agrarian diet and now returning to a hunter-gatherer diet, she said.

Wednesday’s programs follow a presentation this month by Tanya Swain, co-director of the Maine Food Strategy, who spoke to students at UMF about the food picture across the state and the Northeast.

Along with the Good Food Co-Lab, these events are sponsored by the Grassroots Awakenings University Forum, Maine Farmland Trust and the UMF Sustainable Campus Coalition.

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