Cultivating Culture: Supporting Maine's Farmers Through Agritourism

Cultivating Culture: Supporting Maine’s Farmers Through Agritourism

It’s no secret that Maine provides ample opportunities for both tourists and locals to explore and embrace its resources. The state’s craft beer industry has exploded into near worldwide acclaim over the last decade. The foodie movement has transformed the restaurant and social scene, especially in places like Portland. And, of course, we have the beautiful natural environment to make any city-slicker pause in awe. Another particular natural environment has been trending lately for both tourists and locals alike, and it is not the mountains or the rocky coast. Instead, it’s a space that makes great beer and food possible to fuel such an industry—farms. 

Agritourism at Wolfe's Neck Center

Photo: Wolfe’s Neck Center

Farms are such a huge part of what makes Maine unique. More and more folks seem to want more than just a lobster roll and a lighthouse. On the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association’s (MOFGA) website, Jo Anne Bander wrote in 2008, “For tourists and Maine urbanites alike, agritourism is a way to get back to the land, learn how food is grown, and support local farms.” In the last five to 10 years, agritourism in Maine has really begun to blossom.

Farmers can participate in agritourism in a variety of ways such as having a pick-your-own field, hosting farming workshops, renting an Airbnb, or offering kid-friendly options such as petting zoos or wagon rides. 

“I encourage farmers to consider some piece of agritourism,” said MOFGA’s Organic Marketing and Business Specialist Nicolas Lindolm. “It’s another way for a farmer to make money that’s not always dependent on the weather or a good crop yield. Agritourism requires a definite desire to be with people, which is a huge aspect.” 

Lindolm has been an organic wild blueberry farmer (Blue Hill Berry Co.) for 25 years and recently took part in the first Wild Blueberry Weekend this August, along with 19 other farms. “Nearly 50 people came to the event to pick their own berries,” said Lindolm. “It was really great because we’re the only state in the nation that has a wild blueberry industry. We’ve never had a tourist-based farm event for wild blueberries before.” 

The Department of Agriculture and the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine hosted the events in places such as Portland, Wiscasset, and Penobscot, and several restaurants, breweries, and wineries showcased food and beverages made from wild blueberries. 

Brodis Blueberries from Hope, Maine, also took part in the Wild Blueberry Weekend and had guest speakers and book readings. They also share a space with Blue Barren Distillery, which makes a blueberry brandy called the Eau de Vie.

Wolfe’s Neck in Freeport embraces several aspects of agritourism year-round. People can go camping on the oceanfront in their award-winning campground, which is also located near the farm operations. They also offer several educational opportunities for both adults and children, including a summer camp for ages five to 15. For a small fee, families can take their kids on a wagon ride around the grounds to see the animal barns and the milk plant. 

“Our mission is to connect people with food and farming for a healthier planet,” said Andrew Lombardi, the Events and Public Programs Manager. “We believe that giving people a chance to connect with their food creates a more engaged consumer when it comes to buying farm produce and meat.” 

So, long term, will this trending agritourism eventually hatch a new generation of farmers? Lindolm is optimistic. 

“Agritourism adds to the robust effort that is going on in the state,” he said. “It has a good future if we can maintain the natural and human resources.” He also noted that there has been a heightened interest in farming curriculum programs from elementary school to the college level. “There are so many things that schools can learn from farming such as the economic influence, public health, and environmental factors like climate change,” he said.

Lombardi claims that he is already seeing such a renewed interest in farming with kids. “Wolfe’s Neck is truly a part of our local community,” he noted. “Kids grow up petting sheep and picking up chickens, and then they turn into our future farm camp counselors.” 

Our breweries also support local farms. Maine Beer Company partners with Wolfe’s Neck for events and includes the farm in their altruistic efforts. 

Clearly, Maine’s farms go way beyond cultivating crops. If you are interested in seeing what our local farms have to offer, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry has compiled a Maine agritourism map. For more information, visit Maine Agritourism.


John Breerwood has been magazine writing for more than ten years and enjoying the outdoors since childhood. He currently resides in Topsham, Maine. He teaches English at Lewiston High School, and just recently published his first novel, Sinking Dixie, last year.

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