Vote for Us! Help BTLT Farmers Market Win Best in Maine

The American Farmland Trust is once again running their Farmers’ Market Celebration, allowing folks to vote for their favorite markets in the country. The BTLT Saturday Farmers Market at Crystal Spring Farm has won Best in Maine the past two years. We’d love to take home the title a third year and maybe even compete for the title of “Best Farmers Market in the Northeast!”

Click here to cast your vote today! Please only vote once.

What makes our Market special? Depends who you ask. For some, it’s the exceptional variety of local products from 40+ quality vendors. For others, it’s the community feel with live music, familiar friendly faces, outdoor environment, and festive atmosphere. Maybe it’s the kids activities, including our new wildly successful POP Club program, or the occasional live educational demonstrations.

Hosted rain or shine since 1999 (that’s 25 years!), the BTLT Farmers Market at Crystal Spring Farm has been building community around local agriculture and deepening our understanding of where our food comes. To us, what makes the Market the best in Maine is the fact that this property reflects many core aspects of our mission including conserving land and rare habitat, providing walking trails, working agricultural land, and supporting other diverse community needs. All less than two miles from busy downtown Brunswick!

Click here to cast your vote today! Please only vote once.

Local Art and Local Agriculture

Have you checked out the new BTLT branded merchandize this year? We are thrilled to share our brand new tote bag design in addition to our 2024 Farmers Market poster: Rainbow Beets.

We worked with Portland-based printmaker Ana Inciardi again this year to design our poster as well as a new tote bag. You may recognize Ana’s work from our 2023 Farmers Market poster ‘Tomato Party,’ her pop-ups at the BTLT Farmers Market, or her famous mini-print vending machines (you can even find one at Wild Oats here in Brunswick).

Ana is no stranger to the Market. She has a deep love for food and a passion for locally grown produce, plus her fiancé works at Whatley Farm. The unique ‘Rainbow Beets’ poster will only be available this season and supplies are limited, so be sure to pick one up next time you stop by the Saturday Farmers Market at Crystal Spring Farm. Plus, expect to see Ana popping up at the Market throughout the season – you can check her social media for updates (@inciardi).

We love to support a vibrant local food system, and local businesses as well! We take joy in offering you high quality merchandise produced locally. The posters were printed in South Portland at Partners Printing. Our tote bags are organic cotton and were silkscreen printed at Little Chair Printing in Portland.

Along with our other merchandise (water bottles, coffee thermoses, hats, stickers), both the poster and the tote bag are available for purchase at the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm on Saturdays 8:30-12:30 until the end of October. Just stop by the BTLT info booth to purchase and pick up a trail map or become a member while you’re there!

Farmers’ Market Opens May 4th

If this video doesn’t get you hyped for the 2024 Market season, we don’t know what will! We are beyond excited for our 25th(!) year of running the Saturday Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm and can’t wait to see you all on May 4th 🥕 Click here to see what vendors we’ll be hosting this year.

The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust’s Farmers’ Market was established in 1999 to advance the Land Trust’s mission of supporting local agriculture. Located on Crystal Spring Farm, a 331-acre property owned by the Land Trust, the Market is now one of the largest in Maine. With over thirty vendors, many of whom have been with the Market since its inception, the Saturday morning Market offers an exceptional variety of local, fresh products including vegetables, fruits, seedlings, dairy, meat, seafood, cut flowers, mushrooms, baked goods, and artisanal and prepared foods.

The Market has been widely acclaimed not only for the exceptional array of products but also for the festive and community atmosphere. We often host live music, educational demonstrations, and a kids activity table. Rain or shine, our incredible vendors and loyal Market visitors show up every Saturday, building community around local agriculture and deepening our understanding of where our food comes from.

Everything we do – from offering a place for farmers to sell their produce, to protecting working land and public access on a beautiful farm like Crystal Spring – is made possible by members of the Land Trust. Consider joining as a member today!

We thank you for your ongoing support.

BTLT Attends Maine Federation of Farmers Market Conference

This month, Jamie and Julia, BTLT’s Agriculture Programs Team, attended the Maine Federation of Farmers Markets annual conference in Waterville. Jamie and Julia spoke on a panel alongside two other Markets about the different types of market governance models. Julia also gave a presentation about the BTLT Farmers’ Market’s  successful Power of Produce kids program, POP Club. They are bringing lots of enthusiasm, inspiration, and ideas back with them from the conference and can’t wait for the BTLT Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm to start in May!

 

BTLT In the News: “Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust voted best farmers market in Maine”

To read the article online, click here. 

This year, the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Saturday farmers market at Crystal Spring Farm was voted the “Best Farmers Market in Maine” in this year’s National Farmers Market Celebration hosted by the American Farmland Trust and the Farmers Market Coalition.

Established in 1999 to advance the land trust’s mission of supporting local agriculture, the market hosts over 30 local vendors and is one of the largest of the 115 summer farmers markets in the state, according to a prepared release.

This year, food vendor Empanada Club was awarded a pink ribbon at MOFGA’s Common Ground Country Fair, artist Ana Inciardi was written up in the New York Times “T List,” Bread & Friends chef Jeremy Broucek was recognized with the 2023 Star Chefs Coastal New England Rising Stars Award and some of the regular musicians learned that a photograph of them playing at the BTLT farmers market is the main photo on Wikipedia’s page for “bluegrass music.”

The location of the farmers market, Crystal Spring Farm, is a 331-acre example of successful mixed-use land with public-access trails, working farmland, valuable habitat for countless wildlife and plant species, a thriving community garden, and more, all conserved forever.

To read the article online, click here. 

BTLT Voted Best Market in Maine!

Photo credit: Sean Thomas

We are delighted to announce that the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm has been voted the “Best Farmers’ Market in Maine” in this year’s National Farmers’ Market Celebration hosted by the American Farmland Trust and the Farmers Market Coalition. While we couldn’t compete at the national level due to Maine’s small population, we know that we are one of the best farmers’ markets in the country because of the vibrant and welcoming local food community we have in our region.

Or as one young Market visitor remarked, we might be the best farmers’ market “in the whole world!”

 

Photo credit: Sean Thomas

Back in August, we had an awesome National Farmers’ Market Week celebrating our Market community. With the help of interns, volunteers, and an artistically inclined BTLT staff member, we were able to celebrate with games, face painting, and a raffle! We were thrilled with the enthusiastic response from you all with the funds raised from the raffle and the long line of excited kiddos waiting to get their faces painted. 

Photo credit: Sean Thomas

Photo credit: Sean Thomas

We feel so lucky to manage a Market with such an incredible community of individuals. Some recent highlights include:  

  • Our favorite empanada-serving vendor, Empanada Club, was awarded a pink ribbon at MOFGA’s Common Ground Country Fair.  
  • This year’s Market poster artist, Portland-based printmaker Ana Inciardi, was written up in the New York Times ‘T List’ (and even name-dropped BTLT). 
  • Jeff Burchstead, from Buckwheat Blossom Farm, hosted a live sheep shearing demonstration at the BTLT Farmers’ Market with two of the sheep from his farm. 
  • Jeremy Broucek, the brilliant head chef at Bread & Friends, was recognized with the 2023 StarChefs Coastal New England Rising Stars Award. 
  • Earlier this fall, Norumbega Cidery hosted their second annual Big Falls Music Festival with local food, music, and, of course, cider.  
  • Some of our regular musicians learned that a photograph of them playing at the BTLT Farmers’ Market is the main photo on Wikipedia’s page for “bluegrass music” 
  • Go En Fermented Foods will be participating in the Maine Fermentation Fair at Dandelion Spring Farm in Bowdoinham on Oct 21st & 22nd. 

Want to know what else all your favorite vendors have been up to? Ask them next time you’re at the Market, or check our their websites/social media. 

 

 

Photo credit: Sean Thomas

There are many things that make the BTLT Farmers’ Market so special – especially the fact that it takes place at Crystal Spring Farm, a beautiful example of successful mixed-use land with public-access trails, working farmland, valuable habitat for countless wildlife and plant species, a thriving Community Garden, and more, all conserved forever.  

Want to support the Market? Become a member today! And visit us for the last few weeks of the season at Crystal Spring Farm, Saturdays, 8:30am-12:30am.

Photo credit: Sean Thomas

 

Power of Produce Pilot Program A Huge Success at the Farmers’ Market

By BTLT Summer Intern, Hannah Leitzell

A love of local food should start at an early age and Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust is helping to do just that through their new Power of Produce (POP) Club Program for kids, funded in part from a grant from the Senter Fund. Started at a farmer’s market in Oregon and now an initiative of the national Farmer’s Market Coalition, POP Club provides kids who join the club at BTLT’s Saturday Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm the chance to shop for their own fresh fruits and vegetables. POP Club supports research showing that kids who eat five or more servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day have stronger bones, muscles, and immune systems. According to the CDC, eating healthy supports physical growth and increases brain development and cognition. Plus, eating local produce promotes eating fruits and vegetables that are in-season and that haven’t been shipped from far away. POP Club and eating fresh, locally-grown produce, is a win on all fronts! 

POP Bucks, Harvest Bucks, and SNAP tokens

BTLT’s Agricultural Programs Coordinator, Julia St.Clair, manages the Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm and oversees POP Club. Participating kids check in with Julia at the BTLT booth to receive vouchers that allow them to make their own purchases at the Farmers’ Market. Each week, children receive four “POP Bucks” that they can spend on fruits and veggies of their choosing. Though still in its pilot stage, the program has been wildly successful. BTLT has had over 250 children sign up as of August, many of whom return week after week. 

On a sunny Saturday in August, I had the privilege of tagging along with my new 11-year-old friend, Sorrel, and her sibling Silvo, as they chose which fruits and veggies they wanted to purchase. Sorrel is an outgoing kid who will be entering middle school this fall. She loves coming to the BTLT Farmers’ Market with her parents, especially to get fresh fruit with her POP Bucks! As we browsed, we talked about all the different foods she and her sibling had purchased in the past. Strawberries and blueberries were at the top of their list, but they previously purchased carrots and mushrooms as well! We even ran into some other POP Club kids who were happy to tell us their plans for the Market. POP Club member Iona bought tomatoes with her POP Bucks and planned to make pizza sauce from them. She recently learned about paste tomatoes which are good for making sauce.  

Sorrel finally settled on purchasing some blueberries from Fairwinds Farm. She couldn’t help but sample a few, for quality assurance of course, and was nice enough to share some with me as we continued walking the rows of booths. She told me how these blueberries were the perfect mix of both sweet and tart, and how previously she had bought blueberries that were early in the season and were a bit smaller and sourer. I got to talk to Lydia, a vendor at the Fairwinds Farm booth, about what the POP Club has been like from the receiving-end. “The kids are all so excited,” she told me, “They shop on their own, ask questions, count the money, and pay all by themselves. It’s really incredible.” I was able to talk to Sorrel and Silvo’s parents as well who expressed their love for the program. Sorrel is an independent kid, and her dad loves that she has the opportunity to shop on her own. Sorrel says it makes her feel like a “grown-up.”  

Sorrel and Silvo with their blueberry purchase

The POP Club has also been successful in introducing kids to unusual kinds of foods. For example, Stella, a 10-year-old member, buys mushrooms with her POP Bucks. In talking with the vendor at Fruit of the Forest Mushroom Farm, she has discovered that Chestnut mushrooms are her favorite.  Ethan, the vendor with Fruit of the Forest, shared that “the kids always ask questions about the mushrooms. One little girl” – presumably, Stella – “always comes up and asks how much she can get with $4.”  

These kinds of connections with local farmers and vendors at our Farmers’ Market help kids to strengthen ties to local agriculture, which in turn fosters excitement about buying local and organic produce. There are countless benefits to eating healthy foods, specifically fruits and veggies from local farms, and BTLT wants to encourage kids and families to get involved! POP Club has exceeded expectations and engagement levels during its pilot phase, and BTLT is seeking greater grant funding to continue this meaningful program. In the future, Julia hopes to expand the program to include dairy and meat products, to incentivize a well-balanced diet while continuing to support our vendors. POP Club has been a monumental step in engaging local kids in healthy eating practices and good financial skills while also letting them explore their own curiosities regarding food and local agriculture.

Fruit of the Forest Mushrooms vendor Ethan with POP Club shoppers

Celebrate National Farmers Market Week with BTLT

Every Saturday morning, May through October, a small grassy field at BTLT’s Crystal Spring Farm property transforms into a dynamic community space. With 39 farmers, makers, and bakers from the region this season, live music, and kid’s activities, the BTLT Farmers Market is a vibrant and colorful place. This Saturday, August 12th, we will be celebrating National Farmers Market Week with a fundraising raffle and a whole table of new activities for younger Market shoppers. Raffle prizes include BTLT merch (including our amazing posters from the 2023 and 2022 seasons), a tote bag from Apple Creek Farm, an ice cream sandwich from Maine Flavor, a whole chicken from Senza Scarpe, and more to come! Not only will you have a chance to win some of these prizes, but your purchase of raffle tickets supports our incredible Farmers’ Market community! 

 

How to Engage & Support

  • Buy a raffle ticket (or ten) at the BTLT Booth on August 12th to support the Farmers’ Market and have the chance to win some awesome prizes.
  • Vote for the BTLT Farmers’ Market to win the title of ‘Best in Maine’ by clicking here.
  • Become a BTLT Member to support this Farmers’ Market and our conservation, education, and agricultural programs. 
  • Bring your friends and family to the Farmers’ Market to share this vibrant community with them!

What is National Farmers Market Week?

National Farmers Market Week is an annual celebration that highlights the vital role farmers markets play in the nation’s food system. We are grateful here at the BTLT Saturday Farmers’ Market to be able to uplift our vendors, promote our programs, and celebrative the thriving community we have built around local food.

Farmers Markets are key for community food access.

The BTLT Farmers’ Market accepts SNAP benefits and participates in both the Harvest Bucks incentive program and Bumper Crop workplace wellness program. This season we also launched a pilot program for kids, POP Club, to encourage youth to enjoy fruits and vegetables at the Market. We believe folks of all ages, from all backgrounds should have the opportunity to engage with local agriculture and have access to healthy food. 

Farmers markets fuel local economies.

Our incredible vendor community is part of what makes the BTLT Farmers’ Market one of the best in the state. These vendors work tirelessly to keep our communities fed and to bring Market visitors the best local products. We host a handful of vendors in our ‘alternating’ vendor space offering businesses a chance to attend the Market part-time to fit their schedule or as a way to explore a market as an outlet for their products. We host 35-40 vendors each season!

Farmers markets support conservation, education, and community.

BTLT conserves and stewards vital natural areas, supports a vibrant local food system, and connects people with the natural world through inclusive education and recreation programs. The Crystal Spring Farm property, which hosts the BTLT Farmers’ Market, also has an extensive trail system, habitats for wildlife (especially birds), and a visible working farm. This is a great example of how balanced management of mixed-use land can yield productive agriculture, public recreation and community spaces, and still support a thriving level of biodiversity.

Help BTLT Earn the Title of America’s Favorite Farmers Market

CAST YOUR VOTE!

While they’ve long been pillars of local food in urban centers and town squares and even on local farms, in recent years, farmers markets have gained the national recognition they deserve as essential businesses that enable farmers and communities to thrive. This year, the BTLT Saturday Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm is once again participating in the America’s Farmers Market Celebration (AFMC), the only annual ranking of the top farmers markets in the United States as voted on by the public. After taking home the title of Best Farmers Market in Maine in 2022, we are hoping to win this title again this year and maybe even have a shot at being voted the best in the nation!  

A collaboration between the American Farmland Trust and the Farmers Market Coalition, since 2008, AFMC has highlighted the important role farmers markets play in communities across the nation while celebrating the farmers, staff, and volunteers that make markets happen. The 15th annual AFMC, set to run between June 19th and September 18th, on markets.farmland.org, is a fun competition that can help our market earn national recognition and local prestige! With votes from supporters like you, we’re hoping to take home part of the $15,000 prize pool. This money would help us continue to expand programming at the Market, like our
kid’s POP Club program, providing youth at the Market with vouchers to spend on fruits and veggies, encouraging exploration of foods and healthy eating, early engagement in local food systems and agriculture, and providing more income to local producers!

CAST YOUR VOTE!

If you have been to the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm, then you already know that our diversity of vendors, activities for kids, food access programs, live music, commitment to conserving agricultural land, and community feeling make us one of the best Markets in the region. We think we might be the best in the state, or even the country! To vote for the BTLT Farmers’ Market, visit the AFMC website today! And tell your friends, family, and neighbors to vote for us too!

  

A (Local) Food Community for All

At the BTLT Farmers’ Market, we work hard to ensure folks from all socioeconomic backgrounds have the opportunity to access fresh produce and feel invited to participate in our local food system. Our Market works with the Maine Federation of Farmers Markets (MFFM) to participate in several food access programs including SNAP, Maine Harvest Bucks, and Bumper Crop.

This year, we saw an increase in the use of SNAP benefits at our Market! MFFM launched a postcard mailing for SNAP users in Brunswick, bringing about a dozen new SNAP shoppers to the Market. Both the Brunswick Downtown Market and the Brunswick Winter Market have started participating in the SNAP program this season creating more opportunities to access food in our community. With these additions, all five farmers markets in the region are accessible to SNAP families.

The Maine Harvest Bucks program offers bonus vouchers for SNAP users to spend on fresh produce. The match shifted from last year’s 1:1 match to a 2:1 (50%) match of SNAP transactions. This change was due to an increase in the use of the program which has strained the funding. MFFM is currently fundraising to support the Harvest Bucks program. In 2021 $1.2 million was spent with local food producers through SNAP and Maine Harvest Bucks, according to MFFM.

BTLT has continued to participate in the Bumper Crop, a workplace wellness program developed by the Maine Federation of Farmers Markets that provides employees with vouchers to be spent at farmers markets. The program has continued to expand with employers across the state and the number of participating farmers markets. While BTLT’s Bumper Crop voucher use was lower this season, other markets in the area have joined the program resulting in a net increase in use in our communities. If you are an employer or an employee in Maine and think this program would be a good fit for your company or organization, you can learn more here

We are also excited to share that we are continuing to expand our food access programming with a new Pop Club program for the 2023 season. POP Clubs provide youth at Farmers Markets with vouchers to spend on fruits and veggies, encouraging exploration of foods and healthy eating, early engagement in local food systems and agriculture, and providing more income to local producers. Vendors are encouraged to partake in POP Club programs by offering “POP” deals for kids. We are looking forward to launching this program in the spring and continuing to explore more ways to expand food access and invite more folks to our Market!