Ben Hartwell prepares to feed his grass-fed beef herd last week at Sebago Lake Ranch in Gorham. Courtesy photo by Kattie Hartwell

GORHAM — Farmers here are gearing up to provide more meats, eggs and other food products to meet a rising demand during the pandemic.

An increasing number of shoppers are looking to the local farms’ markets to feed families, especially in light of the strain on the national food supply chain during the coronavirus outbreak.

While supermarket chains grapple to keep shelves stocked and often have lines of customers waiting to get in because of social distancing requirements, the markets offer a respite – and the availability of eggs, which have been scarce at some superkmarkets. Also, customers who are concerned about contracting the virus among the larger groups of shoppers at bigger stores feel “more comfortable” at the local shops, one farmer said.

“People are relying and thinking about local food like never before – the time is quite right to really build up on that,” Nancy Brady, director of the Maine Bureau of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources, told the Portland Press Herald this week.

Findview Farm in Gorham has seen an upsurge in demand for eggs and meat. Courtesy photo

Findview Farm in Gorham has seen a “huge increase” in sales, according to Jenn Grant, who owns the farm with her husband, Jeff.

“I can’t keep up with the demand for eggs,” Grant said this week. “Meats have been selling like crazy.”

Findview’s meats include lamb, grass-fed beef, and pork. Customers have nearly depleted the farm’s pork supply, and Fairview purchased more hogs for processing this week. On Wednesday morning they still had a few hams available for Easter dinners.

The market is open afternoons or by appointment. Customers can shop inside or pickup orders curbside.

Meats and eggs are the hot items at Orchard Ridge Farm, said Amy Bibula, co-owner with her husband, Steve.

Orchard Ridge’s meats are raised locally by other producers. The eggs are “from our own birds,” Bibula said.

The farm market, open daily, doesn’t limit quantities per customer, and customers can come into the shop or pick up orders curbside. It also has a kitchen that offers takeout items, including New York-style pizza.

“People are much more comfortable (here) than shopping at the big stores,” Bibula said.

At Sebago Lake Ranch, owned by Ben and Kattie Hartwell, the focus is on a single product – natural, grass-fed beef.

“I’ve had a slight uptick in sales for this time of year, but nothing significant. My model hasn’t been based on retail for a few years so people aren’t used to being able to buy smaller amounts from me,” said Hartwell, who’s a Gorham town councilor.

Hartwell is offering minimum orders of $75. The ranch is also taking deposits for quarter, half, and whole animals that will be processed this summer.

In addition to their other products, Findview and Orchard Ridge each stocks honey and maple syrup, among other products. Hartwell’s mother sells maple syrup in Jo’s Sugarhouse at the ranch.

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