When the skies are gray and the wind blows from the north, it doesn’t feel like spring. And yet, spring really is here. The chittering, twittering, raucous birds flitting all about the dooryard are proof positive.

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

Saturday was the last pickup day of my family’s winter farm share at our local farm. Shout out to you, Goranson’s. We had a feast of mashed potatoes, maple glazed carrots and sautéed spinach with onions to celebrate. Every single thing on our plates came from the farm and there was a hefty bounty left over to restock the larder as well.

The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association defines a Community Share Association as “a system in which farmers offer shares (or weekly subscriptions) of their harvest – allowing CSA members to sample the season while helping to minimize farmers’ risks by paying up-front for the harvest.”

In practical terms, you pay a flat fee upfront and receive fresh food in return. What you get and how much you get depends on what grows well. We never lacked.

In fact, a confession: We did not always use it well. This is entirely my fault. I am a lazy cook, and as a result, we have the healthiest compost in the state. While I joke about that, in truth, I have a lot of guilt about it.

My guilt is over the food wasted, not the finances misspent. In my mind, supporting my local farm is never a bad investment. It ensures the land stays farmland, which would be enough to justify the money spent. Getting food in return is a bonus.

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With the spring, my local farm switches over to a free-choice CSA. Same basic principle but, as the name implies, instead of a bunch of produce chosen for you to take home, you get to select what you want when you want it. I do better with this in terms of avoiding waste – plus it means that sometimes I come home with a cookie or fruit bar. Yum.

I am a huge fan of the CSA system. I love creating a meal for my family from food grown just down the road (or better yet, eating one the honey cooked – he is a better cook than I), and I love knowing I am doing my part to keep the farm a farm.

What’s more, many farms accept payment from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, helping low-income Mainers access healthy, fresh food as well. As if that wasn’t great enough, MOFGA has created Maine Harvest Bucks, which in essence doubles the buying power of SNAP customers. That is a win-win.

A list of organic farms that accept SNAP payments is available on MOFGA’s website.

Speaking of websites, let’s give a shout-out to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, which hosts an amazing and useful compilation of local farms and seafood sellers on its site. Available as an interactive map or database, it was created when we first went into lockdown. Overnight, we needed ways to get fresh food outside of the grocery stores. Small farms rallied and opened farm stands and clever individuals collated the information in a way we could all use. It was inspired.

We have had a long, dark winter. Let’s make the most of the warming weather and enjoy the bounty that is Maine.

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