Summer is really and truly here! The days are hot, the fireflies are out at night and our downtowns are ripe for a solid game of “license plate bingo.” Is there anything more glorious than summer in Maine?

Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at [email protected]

This summer seems a little bit extra. I don’t know about you, but lockdown made me really the appreciate summer joys I had always taken for granted. Namely family gatherings (coming right up), Sea Dogs games (check) and eating my own weight in strawberry shortcake at the Blue Hill Fair.

Truth be told, I am not 100% sure I’m ready for the fair again. Yet. Even in “normal” years it could be kind of overwhelming. It is a lot of sun, a lot of dust and a lot of humans squished into a fairly small space, though it is unendingly cool and the inspiration for “Charlotte’s Web.” Now that I no longer live right there, though, well, even though I am fully vaccinated, it just feels like a lot.

So I have been looking for alternatives and “just as good as” moments.

One thing in my favor (though perhaps not the planet’s) is that we’ve been having such a strangely warm start to the season that strawberries are early. Like, way early. Early June saw the first trays of plump, ripe, amazingness set out at my local farm stand.

I admit, I have been making the most of that. So that’s good.

But it wasn’t quite enough. There is that element of “farm outing” I was missing. Enter Maine Farmland Trust and their Farmland Scavenger Hunt.

Happening now to Sept. 15, anyone who wants to play is invited. Download the free app, register as a player and you’re set. From there, the app shows you options for activities and you can go forth and conquer.

As noted on Maine Farmland Trust’s webpage, “The Scavenger Hunt consists of over 30 tasks of varying difficulties, with additional tasks to be released throughout the summer by MFT and partners. Prizes will be available for several levels of completion, with a grand prize for participants that complete all available tasks.”

The ultimate goal, of course, is to get us all out and exploring and getting to know our local farms. After all, Maine has a rich, varied and tremendously important farming culture. In our ever-increasingly technologically focused mindset, we can forget and lose touch.

For decades, our farmland has been at risk of being lost to development. Now, with more and more people discovering the joys of working remotely and being in a position to pay prime rates for their own slice of Maine, this threat is exponentially larger.

And yet, paradoxically, when the pandemic hit, it became abundantly clear how important it was to have access to locally grown, nutritious foods.

Nothing makes this reality more vivid than setting foot on a working farm. And perhaps, nothing makes that more likely than being challenged in a game. I’ve downloaded the app. I’ve registered. I’m playing. I might win myself a sweet, sweet striker pack or, dare I hope, a tote bag, but the real win is a chance to get out into our collective farming community, meet the people who grow our food and support local agriculture and farmland use.

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