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

I have a lot of favorite times of the year, I know, but this right here, the stretch we are just sliding into? This is probably my “most favorite” favorite.

That’s right, it is agriculture fair time.

I don’t want to give the wrong impression: I don’t actually make a circuit of them all (though, now that I actually say that out loud, that’s not a bad idea). Having lived for 30-plus years as part of the greater Blue Hill community, the Blue Hill Fair has always been my No. 1.

Have you been? You should. I know, I know, it will be hot and dusty and all that (though with the amount of rain we are having this year, maybe not), but it’s just plain worth it.

There are the horse pulls and the oxen pulls, the sheep dog trials and the 4-H competitions. Trust me, there is nothing cuter than a proud-as-punch farm kid trotting their perfectly groomed goat around a ring for inspection.

You can stock up on wool, including llama and alpaca, sample some goat milk fudge (a sample is enough for me, but you might love it) and be amazed at the prize-winning vegetables on display. I know that sounds snarky, but I am actually quite sincere. They are amazing.


Of course there is a midway. If funhouses, rides and barkers are your thing, you will have plenty from which to choose, and you can gorge yourself silly on blooming onions and fried dough. If you’re smart, though, you will get in on the homemade strawberry shortcake with fresh whipped cream in the ag barn.

This fair is special. Not only because it is my hometown fair – or because it runs over Labor Day weekend, meaning it is always on either my son’s or my birthday – but because it is the fair on which the famous E.B. White based his book “Charlotte’s Web.”

There is a kind of magic around an agriculture fair. I think it is deeply gratifying to watch the active caretaking of a link to that part of our collective history; Maine the way it should be.

More importantly, agriculture fairs remind us all that farms are pretty darned critical for our future as well. “No farms, no food,” states the bumper sticker, and truer words were never spoken.

The bigger the grocery stores, the more distanced we become from the reality of farming, and the more necessary the reminders.

This year has been a strange one for our farms. A late cold snap followed by rain, rain and more rain has meant a lot of crops were lost. Farmers still had to pay the startup costs, still had to hire field laborers, still have to make the mortgage, but with a lot less product to sell to cover those costs. And let’s be honest, farming is never the most lucrative of careers, even in a banner year. No one becomes a farmer to get rich. Farming is a calling.

I say again, “no farms, no food,” and so it behooves us all to be paying attention to this moment. Ask farmers what they need to be able to stay, to keep farming the land, to keep feeding our families. Ask them what they need, then create programs or legislation, whatever is required to get it to them.

And as we look for ways to support our local farms in the big picture, break out the calendar and circle some dates to go celebrate farms as well. A full list of agriculture fairs can be found at, and lots more info on farming and homesteading (including a list of pick-your-own farms) is at the UMaine Cooperative Extension’s website,

See you at the shortcake table.

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