Now that Maine Fare is over, we can take some time to reflect on the event. With two full days of market bustle, back-to-back cooking demonstrations, classes, speakers, and tastings, we hoped there would something for everyone to experience and enjoy, but we also wanted participants to take something home with them—knowledge about a specific kind of food, the inspiration to eat more locally-grown and harvested food, or perhaps a deeper understanding of the opportunities and challenges in our state and regional food system. All in all, we think it was a really great weekend, full of good food and food for thought! Thanks for joining us!
–Alex, Ellen, and the Maine Fare team
Maine Fare 2014
There was good food. There was food for thought. At the biggest, most democratic Maine Fare yet, sixteen hundred people came together at the Belfast waterfront to eat Maine food and tackle the tough issues in the future of our food system.
We tasted kale pesto, scallops, and rye flour brownies, chopped veggies to stuff into jars and ferment, and met folks working to relieve hunger from across the state. Paul Greenberg even read a selection from a pre-sale (contraband) copy of his newest book, American Catch. It was a fun and celebratory two days, and also a platform for discussing and changing the way we eat from sea to land in Maine.
The festivities started bright and early Friday morning with a tour of the Troy Howard Middle School Garden. Students at the school are entirely responsible for growing, selling, donating, cooking and eating their wonderful food. Maine Fare highlighted opportunities for families and schoolchildren to get hands-on with their food systems because engaged kids who have positive food experiences will make better food choices in the future.[pullquote align=”right”]“There’s a great opportunity for more farming, for more food processing, and other jobs. This is smart economic development,” says John Piotti, President and CEO of Maine Farmland Trust. See the full article from FOX Bangor here.[/pullquote]
But the future depends on the steps we take now, as expressed by Brian Donahue and Molly Anderson, two of the New England Food Vision authors who hosted the Maine launch on Friday at Maine Fare. The report identifies opportunities for New England to produce half of its own food by 2060. Robin Alden, Executive Director of Penobscot East Resource Center and John Piotti, President and CEO of Maine Farmland Trust, examined the Food Vision’s application in Maine and the actions we need to take to make the future we want, a reality.
At noon the Boathouse seats filled to hear keynote speakers Paul Greenberg and Barton Seaver. Paul, an author and fisherman and Barton, a former chef and sustainable food systems activist, shared with us their knowledge and insight about how to move towards a more sustainable food system – one that sustains our communities, farmers, and fisherman as well as our resources.
While some folks spent the afternoon bringing seafood and agriculture to the same conversation, some folks spent it bringing local seafood and agriculture to the same table with the entertaining and talented Chef Kerry Altiero of Café Miranda and Headacre Farm in Rockland. A free demonstration at the Main Stage tent, everyone enjoyed Chef Altiero’s conversation about the importance of protecting farmland, supporting local people, and enjoying the culinary experiences unique to Maine. He passed around samples of his “Maine Wedding Special”, a festive paella with roasted lobster and a pile of mussels. Want a taste? Visit Café Miranda in Rockland and pick up the recipe in Chef Altiero’s upcoming book, Adventures in Comfort Food, due out October 2014.
Lobster isn’t the only thing to taste in Maine! Maine is an incredibly abundant and diverse place. Apples share a rich history in the state, and who knew there were so many kinds and distinct flavors. Of course, apples with distinct flavors make distinct ciders. John Bunker led a talk with apple growers and cider makers that led into a phenomenal tasting of Maine ciders, poured with cider-makers, and paired with local cheeses by Belfast’s own specialty cheese store, Eat More Cheese.
The evening ended as all the best festivals do – with music! Portland-based Olas took the stage with their strings and dancers. We danced, watched, drank local beer from Marshall Wharf, and ate local dinners from food trucks. An entire day of local food, and Maine Fare was only halfway through!
The Open Air Market was abuzz with conversation again on Saturday. Farmers, grain grinders, sea harvesters, cheese-makers, poultry-raisers, bakers, herbalists, artists, fiber-makers, coffee roasters, and others displayed the diversity of products Maine grows and produces. Customers were full of questions and eager to learn about products such as maple-flavored mushrooms.
But we wanted to get even more hands-on than talking and tasting. We wanted to make it ourselves. So Jean Koons of Kennebec Cheesery and board member of the Maine Cheese Guild taught us some basic cheese-making techniques to use at home in the Queso Rexo DIY Class. Cheese-making is precise business so class attendees huddled around the milk pot and measured amounts of rennet and acid while Jean walked us through making curds.
We’ve already mentioned apples, cheese, and shellfish; foods with long histories and rich presence in Maine. Like a teatime chat, food historians Sandy Oliver and Kerry Hardy took us down the traditional foodways of Maine. They shared stories and samples of indigenous and traditional foods that have been in Maine for centuries. Understanding where we come from is critical to envisioning where we are going.
Sprinkled through Maine Fare for everyone to enjoy were wooden easels framing printed photographs. The photographs were altered – drawn and written on to illustrate stories about people, places, ideas, and actions all related to building a more sustainable world. These words, in the Lexicon of Sustainability pop-up art show, give us a vocabulary for our future.
The final celebration of Maine Fare was the supreme taste of place – Oysters + Beer. Preceding the tasting, Sebastian Belle from Maine Aquaculture Association presented about the relationship between ecosystems and taste of oysters. Maine has so many microclimates that even oysters from different places along the Damariscotta River taste unique. Luckily Maine is also home to many microbreweries, the perfect pairing for oysters on summery Saturday evening. The tastings may have been the most popular events at Maine Fare, each selling out a week prior to the event, and for good reason: Maine is delicious.
So thank you for coming to celebrate with us! If you were at the waterfront for Maine Fare, you know this wasn’t even the full event! Maine Fare featured a top roster of presenters and guest chefs. We connected farm to table with grain grower Sam Mudge, chef, farmer, and sailor Ladleah Dunn, and Aube Giroux of Kitchen Vignettes. Portland-based businesses Lola’s Tacos and Tortillería Pachanga demonstrated how techniques from across cultures, like forming tortillas from freshly ground corn, could be combined with basic culinary knowledge to adapt strategies for cooking in the Maine environment, an activity that everyone—even kids—can do. Melissa Kelly of Primo explained the importance of butter in sauces and Paula Palakawong brought the audience on stage to shape fresh spring rolls a la Long Grain. We watched a variety of spring vegetables transform into pesto under the guidance of Salt Water Farm’s Annemarie Ahearn, tasted fresh Maine Scallops seared perfectly by Togue Brawn, and learned about cooking with clams from Rich Hanson of Cleonice. Throughout the two days, do-it-yourself class participants jumped into preparing food themselves, tasting mushroom varieties from Oyster Creek Mushroom Company and seaweed pasta with Atlantic Holdfast Seaweed Company, making kimchi with Thirty Acre Farm, cheese with Kennebec Cheesery, and bringing home bread, sourdough starter from Jeff Dec, fresh crab cakes from Northwoods Gourmet Girl, and the knowledge to make more fine creations using Maine food at home. Our questions about the on-the-ground work in Maine’s food system were answered by presenters on topics such as Rural Revival, Food Access, and Land + Sea. We visited local farms where we got the nitty-gritty production details, grafted apple trees, and dug up the secrets of good compost. There was something for everyone to experience and take home.
We owe a special thank you to the sponsors of Maine Fare 2014. Without their generosity and commitment to Maine food, the event would not have been possible. Thank you, Point Lookout, Camden National Bank, Viking Lumber, Reny’s, TD Bank, Marshall Wharf Brewing Co, Katahdin Analytical Services, Cape Air, jetBlue, Front Street Shipyard, Bangor Savings Bank, SequelCare, Savage Oaks Winery, 2A Architects, Allagash Brewing Co, Androscoggin Title, Co, Atlantic Brewing Co, the Belfast Co-op, Bluestreak Broadband, Camden Printing, Casella Organics, Cayford Orchards, Eat More Cheese, Kennebec Cider, Jackeez.com, Let Them Eat Cake Bakery, Maine Conservation Alliance, Mook Sea Farm Oysters, Norumbega Oyster Farm, North Haven Oyster Co, Pemaquid Oyster Co, Revision Energy, Rising Tide Brewing, Seacoast Coffee Co, Sewall Organic Orchard, Smith’s Log Smokehouse, Sow’s Ear Winery, Stone Fox Farm Creamery, Strong Brewing Co, The Green Store, Tree Spirits, Urban Farm Fermentory, Waldo County General Hospital, Waldostone Farm, Whaleback Farm and our special Free Range Music Festival Concert sponsors Ramblers Way and WERU Community Radio. Thank you MPBN and Maine Magazine for being incredible media sponsors.
AND we owe a special thank you to YOU! For coming out and enjoying the festivities with us and for caring so deeply about the people, food, and community in this beautiful place.
Together, Penobscot East Resource Center and Maine Farmland Trust want to see our farmers, fishermen, and communities vibrant and sustainable. Maine Fare is the place to empower yourself with the knowledge to make it happen. Have fun! Meet your Farmers and Fishermen! Eat Maine food!
If you missed out, no worries, you can check out the pictures here.
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