BY MIKAYLA PATELTHE FORECASTER
To read the article online, click here.
The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Farmers’ Market has been operating in award-winning style for the second year in a row. The market was awarded “Best Farmers Market in Maine,” given as part of the National Farmers Market Celebration hosted by the American Farmland Trust and the Farmers Market Coalition.
The Saturday market at Crystal Spring Farm in Brunswick empowers vendors from around the state to sell a variety of products and educate people about the values of home-grown agriculture.
“We’ve been participants for a number of years and love the support they’ve offered vendors,” said Abby Sadauckas, an owner of Apple Creek Farm in Bowdoinham. “There’s a real sense of camaraderie among vendors.”
Sadauckas said the market offers “a wide variety of essential items” and “showcases unique products that are made in the state.”
“Some of what’s unique is the strong support from the land trust organizationally,” said Ben Whatley, owner of Whatley Farm in Topsham. “I participate in other markets that are vendor-run and it’s harder to pull off some of the stuff that the land trust adds to the market.
“The whole organization is behind it,” he said. “When there aren’t enough parking volunteers, the executive director is out there directing traffic.”
The land trust is woven really tightly into the community, he said, and makes an effort to invite a diverse array of vendors to sell their goods.
“We on staff know the value the market has in the community, and there’s a lot of fabulous markets across the state,” said Lydia Coburn, communications and operations manager of the land trust. “The community of vendors is really special.”
Coburn said that every weekend, the feeling of the market is always “really positive and happy, and there’s a strong sense of community.”
The market features food access programs, live music and activities for kids. Vendors show up every Saturday, rain or shine, to share in community around local food.
The market was first established in 1999 and hosts roughly 30 vendors each week. It’s one of the largest of the 115 summer farmers markets in the state, and is held on the 331 acres of mixed-use land that makes up Crystal Spring Farm. The farmland includes public-access trails, working farmland, a community garden and habitats for wildlife and plant species.
This farmland is a large part of the draw for many who attend, said Coburn. “It’s such an amazing example of mixed-use land done well,” she said. “There’s species of wildlife on the property, trails for cross country skiing and it’s such a community hub for so many people who use that space and share the land in different ways.”
Julia St. Clair, the land trust’s agricultural programs manager who oversees the market, said she continues to be grateful and amazed by the support they’ve received from the community.
“It’s all the folks who come out every weekend who really make our market vibrant,” she said. “Vendors always get nervous putting in all the work and it’s a good feeling when so many people show up who love local food in Brunswick.
“People love the diversity of products we offer. It’s really like a family, with lots of diverse backgrounds.”
St. Clair said that looking ahead, the land trust hopes to continue bringing in new voices and engage kids and young people in the important work of protecting and promoting local farms and agriculture.
“Another thing for us is thinking of new ways we can support new farmers,” she said, which involves including more young people and bringing in those from other communities who may not yet be in the market scene.
She said it has been important to the land trust that they work closely with and involve asylum seekers as more families move to Brunswick.
The market will run until Nov. 4. More information can be found at btlt.org/farmers-market.
To read the article online, click here.