Farming and Food Justice — Maine Summer 2021

Today’s farms are fewer and bigger: as the number of small family farms has plummeted over the last fifty years, the average farm size has more than doubled. In Maine, this trend is reversed. Over the last two decades, farming slowly – and then rapidly – began picking back up again, with the number of new farmers growing exponentially each year. Studies have shown that if Maine agriculture continues to expand, New England could produce up to two-thirds of its own food within 40 years. Over the course of this program, we travel around Maine visiting farms old and new, rural and urban, to learn how farmers are integrating ancient farming practices and new technologies to produce food sustainably and equitably. Participants will experience both the hard, satisfying work of farming and the delicious fruits (and vegetables) of their labor.

Program Dates: August 2nd – August 9th, 2021

Early Bird Pricing: $3,900
Regular Pricing: $4,150

Discounts are available for groups of 3+. A deposit of $500 is due upon registration, with the balance due June 3rd.

Prices do not include flights. Cancellations made before June 3rd will be refunded 100%. Cancellations made between June 3rd and July 3rd will be refunded 50%. Refunds will not be available for cancellations made after July 3rd.

Learning Objectives

Witness the potential of small-scale sustainable agriculture to empower communities and provide a bountiful supply of fresh, healthy, local food to entire regions.
Experience the satisfaction of collaborative projects and tasks on different types of farms and get to know some of Maine’s most imaginative, hard-working farmers.
Learn how to be future leaders in the sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty movements in your own community.

Program Itinerary

We begin our program in Portland, Maine, where a recent boom in farm-to-table dining has created substantial growth in demand for local produce, meats, and seafood from across the state. A celebratory kick-off dinner at one of Portland’s best restaurants sets the tone for a week that will be filled with delicious food harvested from Maine’s lands and waters.

We spend the next day working on gardening projects with Cultivating Community, a nonprofit organization that supports new farmers and urban gardeners, works to increase access to local, healthy foods for low-income communities, and runs teaching gardens at the local elementary schools. Representatives from the organization talk with us to explain their mission and values and share their best practices for inclusive, thoughtful community work. In the evening, we take a food tour that highlights dishes with ingredients produced sustainably by local farmers.

We spend the morning on a lobster boat in Casco Bay, pulling lobster traps and learning about the history and future of the fishing industry in Maine. For lunch, we bring our catch to a small restaurant on the dock who prepares it for us. We then board our bus and head north along the coast to the Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture & the Environment in Freeport. For over 60 years, the Center has been demonstrating and teaching regenerative agriculture to curious farmers and home gardeners. We board a hay wagon for a tour of the 600+ acre farm, learning about the sustainable practices used on the farm and how they’re working to help improve food security in Maine. We spend the night at the Center’s oceanfront camping ground.

In the morning, we harvest our own breakfast ingredients from the garden and pass them off to the Center’s chefs to cook. After breakfast, the students collaborate on a large farm maintenance project. In the afternoon, we have the option of kayaking, biking around the farm, or relaxing and taking in the views. We then depart on our bus to continue along the coast to Camden, where we have another delicious, farm-fresh dinner before settling into our campsites in the Camden Hills State Park, overlooking downtown Camden and the Penobscot Bay.

After breakfast, we have some free time to relax before setting out on a hike. We take our time getting up to the incredible overlook, stopping here and there to identify birds, wildflowers, and native edible and medicinal plants. We spend the late afternoon cooling off and relaxing a nearby lake, and then head into town for dinner.

After a quick breakfast and morning walk, we leave our campground in the state park and head to Aldermere Farm, a project of the Maine Coast Heritage Trust. The farm is a working Belted Galloway cattle farm that offers internships, training programs and community events. Students meet the cows and take a tour of the farm, learning how the local food network enriches the state economy. After lunch, we participate in one of the experiential workshops offered on the farm and then make the short drive to Belfast. We take in the sunset on the Belfast Harborwalk, eat dinner at one of Belfast’s farm-to-table restaurants, and then turn in at our waterfront campground.

In the morning, we visit the Belfast farmers’ market to assemble a breakfast of fresh bread, butter, honey and jam. Students are prompted to interview one of the farmers to learn how they became interested in agriculture and take their portrait. We spend the early afternoon with representatives from the Maine Farmland Trust, a statewide organization that protects farmland from development, connects landowners with new farmers, and creates programs to both help farmers make a living and make fresh produce more affordable for consumers. Over the course of our visit, we learn specifically how the organization supports Indigenous food sovereignty and of the importance of respecting and supporting the practices of ecological farming, hunting and foraging developed over thousands of years of Indigenous habitation on this land. In the afternoon, we visit a local textiles farm, learning how to make socks from the farm’s sheep wool yarn and expanding our understanding of what could be produced and consumed locally. We take our bus back down the coast to spend our last night at the Wolfe’s Neck campground, grilling pizzas with fresh toppings from their gardens for our celebratory final dinner.

After a relaxed last morning on the coast, we head slightly inland for our last farm visit, to the New Roots Cooperative Farm in Lewiston, where four Somali Bantu farmers came together after graduating from Cultivating Community’s New American Sustainable Agriculture Program to create a farm where they are owner-operators rather than guests on someone else’s land. As we help with general farm tasks, we learn about the farmers’ stories and their dreams for the future. As we make the short trip back to Portland, students are asked to think about their personal strengths and resources and develop a concept for a project that would pay their learning from this program forward into their own communities. Back in Portland, we have a picnic on the Eastern Promenade where students reflect on their experience, share their project concepts and celebrate each other.

Let’s work together

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