Maine Farmland Trust’s signature food festival has evolved and taken on new life as a month-long series of hands-on field trips and workshops throughout the month of June, culminating in a unique, collaborative dinner on June 25, 2017.

Formerly a food festival that drew thousands of local food lovers to Belfast, MFT has re-imagined the popular event for 2017. Rather than a two-day festival, organizers have planned six in-depth events throughout the month of June on various topics central to Maine’s food landscape and culture. “We wanted to create opportunities for people to really dig in to specific food system topics,” said Meghan Quinn, Event Manager for MFT. “Through these workshops, folks will have more time to hear from the people who grow, harvest, and prepare our food.”

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This year’s workshop line-up includes:

June 1: the complicated story of grain in Maine with renowned food writer Nancy Harmon Jenkins

June 4: a trip to Portersfield Cider in Pownal to learn about owner David Buchanan’s orchard of heirloom fruit trees and the cidermaking process

June 11: a daylong nose-to-tail butchery workshop with Logan Higger of Farmers’ Gate Market with Winter Hill Farm in Freeport and Turtle Rock Farm in Brunswick

June 18: a farm tour and cheese making demonstration (and cheese tasting) at Fuzzy Udder Creamery in Whitefield

June 24:  a boat trip down the Damariscotta River to visit oyster farms, taste oysters and local beer, and learn about the river harvest, past and present.

At the end of the month, on June 25, chef Sam Hayward of Fore Street will lead “Food for Thought,” a collaborative dinner at The Freight Shed in Bath. The dinner will serve as the finale of a month of workshops celebrating Maine’s bounty, with four courses prepared by Hayward and a team of guest chefs, including Nate Nadeau, Fore Street’s Chef de Cuisine, Josh Potocki of 158 Pickett Street Cafe and The Bread & Butter Catering Co., Eloise Humphrey and Daphne Comasky of Salt Pine Social and El Camino, and Ben Hasty of Thistle Pig.  The menu will reflect the topics covered in the workshops, as well as Maine’s traditional foodways.

But the evening isn’t just for enjoying a wonderful meal. As the name implies, it’s also meant to provide plenty of food for thought. Following a cocktail hour cider and cheese tasting, guests will engage in a discussion-based “Jeffersonian-style” dinner party.  Each table will have a topic to discuss related to Maine’s food system, and all guests at the table will participate in conversation around that topic. The evening is designed to encourage deep conversation that takes full advantage of the different perspectives and collective wisdom of the dinner guests.

The Freight Shed, a historic building once used to weigh and store railroad freight on the Kennebec River, “is a great setting for this dinner—a reminder of the myriad of connections between land and sea, the elements at the heart of Maine’s food culture, past and present,” said Quinn.

All of the 2017 Maine Fare events will take place in the Southern Midcoast area – Lincoln and Sagadahoc counties. “We like the idea of moving this event around the state each year to highlight local food in different regions of Maine,” said Quinn.

All workshops and the dinner are individually ticketed, and tickets will be available April 24 on mainefarmlandtrust.org. MFT members receive a 10% discount on all tickets.