Compared to many parts of the world, the United States remains a very rich nation. One consequence is that most of us have a lot of stuff, and at this season of the year, most of us are about to have even more. Stuff that takes finite resources to make, to reach you, to wrap, to operate and eventually to throw out. Stuff we may not even want. Consider a gift that pleases the recipient, but also helps local farmers, the local economy and our stressed-out planet. Here are a few suggestions.


Everyone wants to belong, and we know a lot of Mainers who want to be part of making Maine a better, more sustainable place to live. But we’re willing to bet that for every person who says, “I joined MOFGA, Maine Huts and Trails or Maine Farmland Trust,” there are 10 more saying, “I should really join MOFGA or Maine Huts and Trails or Maine Farmland Trust” and leaving it at that. Just do it for them and slip the membership card into their stocking.

MOFGA: The grand poobah of everything organic and sustainable is also a powerful lobbying force. $40 for individual, $60 for a family and $20 “seedling” membership for students, seniors and others who need it.

BICYCLE COALITION OF MAINE: The advocacy group fights to keep cyclists around the state safe. Memberships start at $10 for students.

MAINE FARMLAND TRUST: Does someone on your list drive a car with bumper stickers that say stuff like “No farms, no food”? Connect them to an organization that protects farmland, supports farmers and advances farming. The Trust also puts on some pretty cool art exhibits. Membership levels range from $20 (basic) to $1,000 (life).

MAINE HUTS AND TRAILS: Open the door to year-round wilderness exploration. Membership speeds up the reservation process, gets you MH&T kayaks and canoes for free and helps enhance the miles and miles of trails winding through the Kingfield/Carrabassett Valley Region. (They do gift certificates too.)

PORTLAND TOOL LIBRARY: For $50, your friend or family member gains access to tools from A (air hose splitter) to at least V (portable vise) without having to buy them. OK, OK, it’s not romantic. But so useful.

MAINE AUDUBON SOCIETY: Memberships start at $35 and will allow the birder in your life to participate in discounted trips and give them access to statewide Audubon nature centers and sanctuaries.

PORTLAND FOOD CO-OP: Give them a fantastic grocery store. Or at least make them a part-owner in it. $100 gets them access to sale days and specials, and discounted classes, plus it gives them a voice in the Co-op.


SUSTAINABLE SKI BUM: Try giving your loved ones tickets, or even a season pass, to one of the farms that transforms its fields into cross-country skiing and/or snowshoe trails in the winter. Remind them that the more they use this pass, the more money they’ll be saving (few things motivate a Mainer better than a good value) and the more exercise and fresh air they’ll be getting.

Harris Farm, a 500-acre dairy and vegetable in Dayton offers an individual season pass for $100, a youth pass for $60 ( The cows can also keep an eye on you at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester where season passes are $110 for adults, $90 for youth under 18 and seniors ( If you huff it to the highest point on the trails at Five Field Farms in South Bridgton, you’ll see Mount Washington on a clear day. Adult one-day pass $12, youth $10 (

FANCY FEAST: We all need a carrot on a string to help us get through winter, so wrap up a reservation for the height of summer. Barn dinners don’t get any more alluring than the one Nebo Lodge offers on Thursday nights in the summer and for the first two Saturdays in September. For $95, adults get a roundtrip boat ride from Rockland to North Haven, where the barn doors at Turner Farm will be thrown open for seasonal cocktails and five-course family-style dinners featuring farm-raised pigs, cheeses and vegetables. Also, drinks. But not for the under-21 set, who get to eat for $65. Call Nebo at 867-2007 for a reservation or email [email protected]

FARM STAY: Do you have a family member who needs to get away from it all? Wrest his iPhone from his hand and send him on a farm stay. They dot the map of Maine, but we like the look of Pagett Farm, a 63-acre organic farm in Palermo, with pasture-raised chickens, turkey, geese and pork. They promise big breakfasts with farm eggs and maple syrup, and accommodations include a “Tent on the Pond” (glamping starting at $149 a night) from April 15 to Oct. 15 or a yurt year-round (starting at $164). Visit for more information, call 993-2500 or email [email protected]


TURN TURN TURN: If someone on your list loves working with her hands and dreams of turning a raw piece of wood into a beautiful wooden bowl, buy her a spot in the Jan. 16 Introduction and Demonstration of Wood Turning class at the Shelter Institute in Woolwich. The three-hour class, taught by Ken Hatridge of Tree Trunk Designs, costs $45.

FOREST-TO-FORK: The Maine Primitive Skills School in Augusta is offering a weekend-long spring foraging class May 20-22 for $210. Your giftee will learn how to identify plant foods and medicines, harvest them responsibly, and then use them in meals, tinctures and salves. And if you’re lucky, you could get a hand-foraged salve or a hand-picked dinner invitation in return.

WHO ON YOUR LIST KNEADS THIS? The baker in your family would be thrilled to get a pass to the 2016 Kneading Conference, sponsored by the Maine Grain Alliance. Each year, breadheads from all over the country descend on the Skowhegan fairgrounds to learn new skills. Next year’s dates are July 28-29, and the keynote speaker is Amy Halloran, author of “The New Bread Basket: How the new crop of grain growers, plant breeders, millers, maltsers, bakers, brewers, and local food activists are redefining our daily loaf.” The registration fee is $325 and includes meals.


“THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING: Capitalism vs. the Climate” by Naomi Klein. Released in paperback this August, Klein’s much-talked-about book issues a call to humankind to address climate change through restructuring the global economy.

“PROJECT PUFFIN: The Improbable Quest to Bring a Beloved Seabird Back to Egg Rock” by Stephen W. Kress and Derrick Z. Jackson. From our own backyard, a quasi-memoir about Kress’ decades-long quest to bring puffins back to Egg Rock in the Gulf of Maine, where they hadn’t been seen since 1885. Because everyone needs a feel-good story about sustainability and wicked cute birds.

“THE THIRD PLATE: Field Notes on the Future of Food” by Dan Barber. Now in paperback, the bestseller from the famed New York chef is a roadmap to a “whole farm” way to eat sustainably, drawn from Barber’s frustrations over how the fanatic pursuit of specialized ingredients for farm-to-table cuisine sometimes prioritizes ingredients over smarter ecological choices.

If none of these grab your fancy, grab a gift certificate from one of Maine’s many independent booksellers, including Gulf of Maine in Brunswick, Longfellow Books in Portland, Sherman’s Books & Stationery (in Bar Harbor, Boothbay Harbor, Camden, Freeport and Portland), Maine Coast Book Shop & Cafe in Damariscotta or Hello Hello Books in Rockland.


GREEN GROOMING: We think we’ve figured out the secret to Santa’s flourishing white beard – the beard oils made in small batches of organic ingredients at the Portland General Store. Alright, maybe Santa just has good genes, but they certainly would make great stocking stuffers for the farmer – or grandpa – in your life. They smell good: The manly man scents include tobacco, ginger, whiskey and even black fly, which does double duty as an insect repellent. They also moisturize. The 15 ml glass bottles with dropper sell for $30 each. Sampler boxes are also available.

765343_510214-20151207_homegrown00 TOASTS FOR THE LOCAVORE: Set your loved ones up for the New Year with a Champagne Cocktail Starter Kit from Royal Rose, a Brunswick-based company that makes small-batch cocktail syrups with organic and fairly traded ingredients. The kit includes one bottle each of raspberry and anise simple syrups. Use vodka for a raspberry sparkler (recipes are included), or dark rum or spiced rum for an anise sparkler. The kit costs $26.

• A TOKEN OF YOUR AFFECTION: Buy a handful of wooden tokens from the Portland Farmers’ Market – they come in $1 and $5 denominations. You don’t even need to tuck them into a festive bag or box because that’s done for you. The next time the recipient shops at the market, she’ll be able to pick up that strange and pricey organic vegetable she’s been pining to try.

• TRASH TO TREASURE: It may sound more like a gag gift (literally) than a Christmas gift, but a year’s worth of compost is the gift that keeps on giving throughout the summer. Curbside composting companies take your stinky (organic) garbage, compost it, and return it to you to use in your garden. Garbage to Garden is running a special right now for $154 per year, or $12.83 per month. Another southern Maine company, We Compost It!, offers a monthly subscription for $8.99.


Community-supported agriculture programs are abundant in Maine, and the more popular they become the more creative they get. These three unconventional CSAs are sure to put a smile on someone’s face Christmas morning.

WINNEGANCE OYSTER FARM won’t officially launch its oyster CSA until 2016, but the West Bath oyster farm is accepting a limited number of pre-orders for CSA memberships for the holiday season. Shares cost $150 for 10 dozen oysters delivered over the May to November season. They can be picked up weekly, on Friday nights and Saturday mornings, at the Winnegance oyster stand on Essex Street in Portland. Email [email protected]

Help someone you love keep warm with a comforting mushroom soup this winter, made with mushrooms from the NORTH SPORE WINTER MUSHROOM CSA. The CSA – $200 for a half share and $300 for a whole share – starts in January and ends in early May. Half-share members get a half pound of fresh mushrooms every week, and full share members get a full pound. Add $60 to your gift for medicinal mushroom products, such as a tin of chaga tea. All memberships come with a mushroom cookbook, a grow-at-home kit, and a North Spore T-shirt.

765343_80971-Gelato-spoon Just last week, Gelato Fiasco launched the state’s first (as far as we know) ice cream CSA. Called COLD TREATS SENT AUTOMATICALLY – or C(t)SA – this pints subscription program ships gelato and sorbetto right to the member’s door, four times a year. The four pints in each shipment are chosen by the founders of Gelato Fiasco, and they come with a handmade wooden gelato spoon made by Brunswick-based woodcarver Jason Weymouth. A membership costs $199, which includes shipping to most East Coast addresses. OK, we freely admit that this isn’t a CSA in the true meaning of the concept – in which you pay a local farmer upfront, typically in winter when they are generating little to no income yet must buy seeds, to help spread the high risks of farming; the benefits – in the form of veggies – come months later. But hey, it’s Christmas, Mr. Grinch. Is anyone going to argue with delicious ice cream delivered to her door?


Every week in Source, we bring you stories of Maine-made products that are made from sustainable resources and leave out all the bad stuff. Here are a few of our favorites that are small enough to fit in a stocking:

FOR DAD: If the guy in your life leads an active outdoor life – or is just hard on his wallets – give him a Flowfold wallet made from repurposed, practically indestructible DiamondFiber sailcloth. Styles range from $10-40.

765343_80971-whale FOR THE HUNTER: Hunters like to say they use every part of the animal. Gerry and Val Hoff create intricate pieces of jewelry using the leg bones of moose and Maori bone carving techniques. A nice holiday bonus: They’re having a 25 percent off, first-come, first-served annual sale.

FOR THE TEENAGER: If your teen’s rock concert tees look shabby, give her a shirt that elevates the casual tee into an object of art and expresses her love for Maine – or desire to save sea life. My Maine Tees offers a T-shirt that features a silk screened/handpainted, black-and-white design of a fish or a whale. Like your teenager, no two are exactly alike. They sell for $38.

FOR THE FOODIE: Bleuberet Blimey Jam is no ordinary blueberry jam for toast or scones. The mixture of Maine blueberries and lime goes well with goat cheese, shellfish and even margaritas. Other unusual jams made by Bleuberet include Madras Curry (Maine blueberries and curry) and Fennelicula (a blend of Maine blueberries, heirloom apples, blackberries and fennel). A 7.75-ounce jar sells for $10-$13.