This Thanksgiving don’t forget to thank a farmer

Our house always features potatoes from up the road, squash from the neighbors, and other goodies from The School Farm. Basically, every dish has an element to it grown with care from someone my family knows in our community. These days who can resist naming all the local ingredients used in their grandma’s stuffing recipe while guests are asking for seconds? The Thanksgiving table is a top notch opportunity to support your local farmer while feeding your loved ones or other family .

Our support of local food not only warrants bragging rights at the table, but it has a powerful impact on the folks growing it. There has been a recent trend in a rising number of  Having a supportive community is a necessity for any farmer, but that isn’t limited to just people buying local food. They need access to financial and educational resources like many other professions in order to succeed. Thankfully, in Maine we have organizations that have their back so they can keep filling our fridge.

MOFGA, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Alliance, has  a Journeyperson Farm Training Program and Farm Apprenticeships that provide experience, training,

Common Ground Fair, Unity ME. 2013

Common Ground Fair, Unity ME. 2013

and business planning development to new and seasoned  farmers. You might be familiar with the fair they put on every year in Unity, but they also work year round supporting, certifying, and educating their farmers and community. If you are a fan of any organic Maine food, you can thank MOFGA while you pass the pie.

The average American is at least three generations removed from the family farm. That means, odds are a lot of young farmers don’t belong to an existing family farm structure. This is where Maine Farmland Trust (MFT) comes in. The MFT’s Farmlink plays a crucial role in connecting potential farmers with land that is meant to be and in need of farming. MFT  preserved as many as 51,569 acres of farmland for future food production here in the state . As my father would delicately put it, “that’s better than a sharp stick in the eye.” If you enjoy scenic views of rolling fields and love having many farms fresh options at the grocery store, thank Maine Farmland Trust while you steal that drumstick from your brother.

Finally, we have the Maine Farm Bureau that works at both county and state level to identify the issues most pertinent to Maine Farmers, which are then lobbied for in Augusta and Washington D.C. Their Young Farmers Committee even offers legislative awareness and leadership development to farmers ages 18-35. The sole purpose of this grassroots organization is to give farmers a voice and encourage all aspects of the agricultural community to work together to create successful and sustainable farms. If you have ever been proud of our farmers’ tenacity and ingenuity, you can thank The Maine Farm Bureau while you stuff yourself with stuffing.

The University of Maine has compiled all these and many other resources at The Beginner Farmers Resource Network. A cornucopia of resources exist here in Maine for our farmers, and we all get to reap the benefits. At the heart of each of these organizations are two basic goals, importance of community and working together towards common goals. All three of these outfits help farmers ensure that Maine can continue to feed all of us for years to come. It’s pretty simple for us to help too. If we support them, they will grow.

That’s where our dinner comes into play, Thanksgiving and every other day of the year. Remember on Thursday while you thank your mom for making the best sweet potatoes ever (the kind with the marshmallows), local farmers will be thanking you for each and every purchase. They are also counting on your continued support. After all, Thanksgiving is a community affair.

Photo Credit: Jessica Wallace

Photo Credit: Jessica Wallace

 

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Jasmine Haines

About Jasmine Haines

Jasmine J. Haines is an Aroostook county native and the 6th generation raised on her family’s farm in Fort Fairfield. Self-proclaimed "Maine's biggest fan" she works at the Maine Farm Bureau connecting with farming folks all over the state. This is her agricultural adventure.