“Growing fresh produce is our heritage and our legacy,” says Tara Smith Vighetti, a sixth-generation member of the Smith family. Tara is the Vice President of Smith Packing Inc., the sales arm for Smith’s Farm, whose summer production in northern Maine has been a source of family pride since 1859.

Historically, Smiths were potato growers; but in the 1980s, fifth-generation growers Greg and Lance Smith innovated by beginning summer production of broccoli in Maine. The popularity of this product in the East led to expansion with winter broccoli production in Florida.

Smith’s Farm is represented by the Stag Brand, which has become known in eastern U.S. markets for providing the highest quality and freshness available. Smith has continued to grow, adding items like the now popular cauliflower to its product offerings. “We’re very fortunate to have grown considerably in the past 20 years,” Vighetti says.

“Grown” has, of course, multiple meanings. For example, expansion: In 2015, Smith’s Farm rebuilt its 100,000-square-foot cooling and packing facility in Westfield. The facility also installed the state’s largest privately held solar facility as a power source.

Products: Broccoli, cauliflower and potatoes lead the lineup for Smith product offerings. Specialty items – lettuce, napa cabbage and bok choy – were shipped for the first time in 2013. This summer, Smith conducted trials in sweet corn and squash. Today, Vighetti is happy to mention that purple cauliflower varieties are also being produced on trial. “They’re just beautiful.”

People: Family, most of all. Lance and Greg Smith, first cousins, partnered to expand on the strong base built by Greg’s father, Herschel Smith. Emily, Lance’s daughter, and Zachary, Greg’s son, have always known they would follow their family legacy into agriculture. The two are partners in the business and run Smith’s Farm production.

Smith Vighetti, Lance Smith’s other daughter, whose background was in business and accounting, came later and entered the business as the controller for the Florida production company in 2004. She later transitioned to sales and marketing, and became a partner in 2012. Together they established integrity in safety, labor, conservation and sustainability programs for Smith’s farm. Sadly, Greg Smith passed away in February 2017. His legacy is ever-present.

“Greg and my father worked together to reposition the farm during the 1980s, and Greg is very much missed, as a presence, and in the family business,” Vighetti said. Greg’s dad, Herschel, survives him.

“Herschel is the one who launched Smith Packing in the 1950s,” Vighetti notes. “Herschel has been a great leader, and he gave us a strong foundation to build on. Smith Packing’s incorporation was a defining moment for us, because it gives us complete control over product quality, from seed to sale, and a springboard from which to innovate.”

The 1980s was a key decade. The farm’s first broccoli was produced in 1984. Today, the farm has 3,500 acres of broccoli, and 600 acres of cauliflower, in production during the summer; potatoes are the third-biggest product. In total, Smith’s manages between 10,000 and 15,000 acres, operating on a three-year rotation that reflects the farm’s commitment to sound environmental practices “to produce the purest, healthiest crops for our customers, and remain ever-faithful to promoting and preserving our precious natural resources.”

Smith’s Farm is among the foremost suppliers to Hannaford Supermarkets. The relationship goes back decades and generations.

“Hannaford was able to recognize the advantage of buying Maine products for Maine retail before ‘local’ was cool, before anybody even talked about it,” Vighetti points out. “From the beginning, Hannaford worked with us to get the freshest produce on the shelves fast. Cut today, on the shelves tomorrow.”

Smith’s is also known for its charitable contributions to food banks. “We strive to minimize food waste, and we help others who need it,” Vighetti summarizes, mentioning the Society of St. Andrew and the Good Shepherd Food Bank as two recipients.

Dixie Shaw, the Caribou-based director of hunger and relief services at Catholic Charities Maine, is among those who appreciate the farm’s generosity:

“Smith’s Farm has done so much for the people in our community, from donating fresh broccoli to our local and statewide food bank, to providing other assistance as needed. They’re never too busy to help. … Thank you for all you do for us and the people of Maine.”

In Vighetti’s view, “We’ve been fortunate in so many ways, from the purity of the Aroostook County environment that we farm, to the longtime partnerships and relationships we enjoy with Maine organizations and retailers.

“To be partners with Hannaford for this long is really a testament to the New England values we share – supplying the finest, freshest, products, and focusing on sustainability and best conservation practices.”

For more information on Smith’s Farm, please visit www.smithsfarm.com, and visit the Smith’s Farm profile on Facebook.

These monthly profiles are brought to you by Hannaford Supermarkets, which has been partnering with local  farmers since 1883.  Hannaford works with more than 800 farms and other food producers located near its stores.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.