Every Tuesday and Thursday, fifteen local food vendors set up stalls along the Mall in downtown Brunswick to sell their day’s bounty. From seasonal produce to oven-fresh baked goods, the Brunswick Farmers’ Market provides a wide variety of local Maine fare. Every week, rain or shine, food enthusiasts come flooding to sample homegrown staples such as garlic-marinated goat cheese curds and hearty Sumatra roast coffee.
The market prides itself on being one of the oldest in the state—continuously operating for over 30 years. With friendly farmers and a tight-knit community, the vendors maintain a strong bond.
“We’re all competing, but it’s not cutthroat,” said Cathy Karonis, proprietor of Fairwinds Farm in Augusta. Over time, the farmers’ have fostered close bonds, due to each merchants’ commitment the long-term attendance.
“The vendors that are here now have been here seven years or more,” said Karonis.
The market is fully self-organized—the downtown location is run by member vendors rather than a third party agent. Karonis raves about the element of personal governance.
“We vote on applicants and have a true say on what other vendors are needed at the market,” she said.
Meat or cheese, fruit or vegetable, the sellers at the Brunswick Farmers’ Market offer a locavore’s fantasy. Two of our favorites are Meadow Brook Farm and Orchards and The Farmer’s Daughter.
At the Meadow Brook Farm and Orchards’ stand, Sherry Dwinnell provides a generous variety of specialty apples, claiming to have “the Lake Region’s Best.” With assortments ranging from Courtland to Jona Gold, this 28-year-old family farm also offers crisp cold-pressed cider. We recommend serving it hot with cloves and mulled spices for an autumnal treat.
At The Farmer’s Daughter’s stand, Richard Keough, a fourth generation Hebron farmer, peddles pastries made by his daughter, Rebecca. Oversized cinnamon rolls slathered with maple glaze sit next to generous slices of Maine blueberry pie and cinnamon-spiked pumpkin loaves. Don’t miss the nutty English muffins, sold by the half dozen. Inspired by the bright piles of leafy greens and vibrant heaps of root vegetables, we decided to transform the farmers’ produce into a home cooked meal. Experimentation is the most fun part of cooking, so we didn’t follow exact recipes to make our farm-to-table meal. To get some ideas for preparing the versatile fall vegetables that we bought at the market, we asked each vendor about their favorite ways to prepare our purchases.
Maina Handmaker, farmhand at Six River Farm, suggested roasting kale with equal parts tamari and sesame oil, and sprinkling coconut flakes on top to create a textural and flavorful Thanksgiving side dish. As poor college students with only basic ingredients, we sautéed the kale with olive oil and garlic, and the results proved simply delicious.
Following Cathy’s recommendation, we sliced her sweet potatoes into home fries and roasted them with olive oil, sea salt, and paprika for a kick. We also roasted butternut squash and onions and created our own soup recipe by simmering the roasted vegetables with apple and apple cider that had passed the expiration date. Our pureed improvisation paid off with a result that was creamy and bursting with fall flavor.
Our next dish was a perfectly balanced beet salad with walnuts, goat cheese, and spicy greens from Six Rivers Farm. We topped off our feast with apples from Fairwinds Farm baked with honey and nuts, an effortless dessert that can also be prepared using a dorm-room microwave.
This colorful array of dishes proved that the farmers market’s produce is delicious sautéed, roasted, boiled, or simply left alone.
The Brunswick Farmers’ Market Project is working to revitalize freight shed barns at the corner of Union St. and Weymouth St. They hope this renovation will be conducive for a year-round market.
Though the Brunswick Farmers’ Market closes for the season on November 26, many of the same vendors sell their goods at the Winter Farmers’ Market at Fort Andross. Open from 9 a.m. to noon every Saturday through April, this venue offers food, live music and artisan crafts.