Story posted February 25, 2014
Dining Service again sponsored our February Feed the Farmer series which brings together local farmers and food producers for lunch and conversation at Thorne Dining Hall. Students, faculty and staff attend and always come away with something interesting and new.
This year, over three lunches, we chatted with Martha Putnam of Farm Fresh Connections and Wealden Farm, Paul Dobbins, a seaweed aquaculturist from Ocean Approved Kelp Products, Shawn O'Donnell, a hydroponic gardener from Olivia's Garden at Pineland Farm, Amber Lambke, a miller from Maine Grains and Somerset Gristmill in Skowhegan, and Candice Heydon, a mushroom grower and purveyor from Oyster Creek Farm in Damariscotta.
It was apparent from talking to these folks that the technology sector is not the only innovative workplace out there. If there was a common thread among the stories told, it was the drive, passion and creative problem solving skills needed to bring new products from farm to table. Many of our guests have benefited from relationships with educational institutions, public and private foundations. Each marveled at the exciting atmosphere created in Maine over the past 10 years to where the Maine brand has cachet throughout the world, in markets as far away as Japan.
There's an expanding community that supports small agriculture in the State, including an explosion of year-round farmers' markets. It used to be that one perk of being a farmer in Maine was the rest and repair of the winter season. That's a thing of the past as product lines are expanded to keep up with the demand for local food off-season.
At Bowdoin, we're proud to have been involved since the beginning of this renaissance. The connections made through our decade-old organic garden have allowed us to play an important part both as a generator and supporter of the local foods movement. It's a cold and snowy February, but we're looking to the future and planting seeds.
"It used to be that one perk of being a farmer in Maine was the rest and repair of the winter season."