All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Saturday, October 08, 2005

'Made in Maine' Matters

The Sweetsers of Cumberland are like a lot of Maine farming families. Faced with rising taxes and encroaching suburbia, they've had to learn to diversify.

Sure, Sweetser's Apple Barrel & Orchards still sells 33 varieties of apples at a roadside stand. But, as the Portland Press Herald reported Friday, the scope of their business has broadened:
They're trying to sell more value-added products, like apple butter and apple crisp mixes. They grow pumpkins and gourds and sell maple syrup from Gregory Sweetser's sister's farm in Beaver Cove. They try to maximize the potential of whatever they grow; for instance, they grow decorative corn, selling the ears, stalks and even the kernels that aren't attractive, as birdseed.
We can all help our local farmers by buying our produce fresh from the farmers' market (when in season), and eating at restaurants that feature Maine-grown foods. October is Maine Menus Month—"a month-long celebration . . . of Maine grown, raised and harvested foods and the restaurants that serve them." Visit the Get Real Maine website for a list of participating restaurants.

For those living out-of-state, the website includes a database of mail-order businesses selling everything from coffee to handspun alpaca yarn (you can also visit Maine Made—an attractive registry of Maine products and producers).

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