My family made a commitment to agriculture that came long before I was even an idea. I am the 6th generation to be raised on our farm in Fort Fairfield, Maine. A classic Aroostook farm, it has fields for planting potatoes, trees for acres, and by the time I came around, a tiny fish hatchery was placed adjacent our very own pond.
A family farm requires constant care and a master skill level in troubleshooting. I can’t speak for all farms, but ours was like when your car is old, and temperamental to the point that you can only really drive it “safely.” There is a trick to everything and it’s just too complicated to explain to someone else. It’s the same feeling when you go to leave your farm in someone else’s care for the weekend, uneasy and uncertain.
As a result we never really got to travel much, due to the demands of farming, but we did have each other. I got to spend nearly every day of my early years with my parents and grandparents. I learned about life and my heritage by spending time with, and when I was old enough to, working side by side with my family. By the time I was school aged, I had heard a story about almost every inch of my farm and my community. No wonder, I became nostalgic at a very early age.
Fort Fairfield, and much of The County, used to look a lot different than it does today. Stories of friends’ and neighbors’ long gone farms and bustling main streets peppered my childhood narrative. The landscape was full of wistful ghosts all around me, in abandoned store front windows and over grown fields. While I felt lucky that our farm had somehow managed to remain, I also began bracing myself for our turn. After all, a bad stretch of weather or a week long flu could be enough to tip the scales against us, but as of today, our hat is still in the ring.
The older I got the more I needed to know. What happened to the neighbors’ farms? How are we still here? Is farming a viable career anymore? Will we run out of family farms? Decades later, I am still learning the answers to these, and many other questions. I’ve also discovered farming success stories, resources for small farms, and organizations that are taking positive strides in agriculture right here in Maine. Each week I will be sharing all of these discovers with you, along with my personal accounts, and some fun County history too! To answer my own question, I think farming is now, more than ever, a viable option for some of us. Next week, I’ll cover some of the resources available for young farmers.
You can subscribe below.
You can also follow my Facebook page Pen & Potato for updates and additional content*