Lincoln County on Common Ground
There are dozens of organic farms in Lincoln County, and dozens more agricultural businesses, so-called value-added farms, where raw produce is turned into sauces, cheeses, dried floral arrangements, honey, beeswax, wine, beer, bread, jams, jellies, medicines, meats, wool, felt and other products.
Several of these organizations appear annually at the Common Ground Fair in Unity. The fair, sponsored by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, is a three-day celebration of rural living. This year, the fair drew nearly 30,000 people from Maine, other states and Canada. The weather on Saturday was perfect; a cool breeze but a warm sun. A threatened rain shower never occurred.
One of the farms there was Eldertide Farm and Maine Medicinals, a farm and herbal medicine manufacturing business in Dresden. Because the manufacturing business is growing by leaps and bounds, the manufacturing part of the business moved to Richmond last year, but the farm that produces the elderberries used in Maine Medicinals’ antioxidant concoctions remains in Dresden. Edie Johnston and her son Geo operate the businesses, which now have seven employees and produce thousands of bottles of the herbal remedies every week. In addition to elderberry products, they also grow many other medicinal herbs including astragalus, chamomile, echinacea, calendula, goldenseal, lemon balm, nettles, sage, mullein, and many others. Most of these can be made into teas or tinctures or balms to treat a variety of ailments from the common cold to breathing difficulties to heart problems.
Chewonki Farm presented its dairy cows and other livestock. Megan Phillips, the farm manager at Chewonki, raises much of the food used on the Wiscasset campus, including the milk. The farm and food program at Chewonki connects students, campers, and interns in every part of the food production, preparation, and consumption cycle. The farm also helps to bring people in the community together to help find solutions for food issues, such as food insecurity, the safety of food and water sources, and more.
The fair also focuses on sustainable living, and several local companies were present to help people discover ways to use less energy and to use the energy of sun and wind and wood, as opposed to fossil fuels. One of these is Midcoast Energy Systems of Damariscotta, which does a wide range of energy and home improvement work, including electrical work, plumbing, heating, and more, but also installs heat pumps and geothermal systems and green water heaters, such as heat pump water heaters.
Looking to build a whole new sustainable house? Shelter Institute teaches people to build their very own timber-frame homes with a series of classes on the Woolwich campus, and provides kits to build a simple house. The team can also design and build a home for a client, and help them find appropriate land in the area.
Lincoln County has several fiber arts and fiber farms, as well, including Ridge Mist Llamas in Newcastle and Springtide Farm in Bremen, which raises Cashmere goats and produces fibers, as well as teaching goat husbandry classes.
MOFGA also welcomed several newly certified organic farms in Lincoln County in 2016. They are: Lyric Meadow Farm in Boothbay, which offers organic vegetables, chickens, eggs, honey, alpaca wool, and herbs; Wandering Root Farm in Wiscasset, which has livestock and vegetable crops; Maine Fresh Sea Farms in South Bristol, which provides kelp and other sea vegetables; Tarbox Farm on Westport Island, which grows vegetables; Old Narrow Gauge Farm in Alna, which grows crops and livestock and selling value-added products; White Duck Farm in Waldoboro, growing vegetables; Beau Chemin Preservation Farm in Waldoboro, growing vegetables and raising livestock, and selling U-pick flowers; Spruce Bush Farm in Jefferson, growing vegetables, raising livestock, and selling value-added products; and The Good Shepherd’s Farm, raising crops and wild mushrooms.
The fair is always the third weekend after Labor Day.