Every Tuesday and Friday, from May 1 until November 20, local farmers set up shop on the Brunswick mall along Maine Street to share the fruits of their harvest with the Brunswick community.
It’s unusual to find a Maine city or town without a local farmers’ market, so what sets this particular market apart?
“This is one of the oldest markets—if not the oldest market—in the state. I think the vendors are really dedicated at this market,” said Jake Galle of Apple Creek Farm in Bowdoinham.
The Brunswick Farmers’ Market is the second-oldest in the state of Maine, first organized in 1977. This allows for distinct camaraderie between farmers as well as friendships between sellers and frequent shoppers. When asked about the Bowdoin student-farmer relationship, Dick Keough of Keough Family Farms, warmly recounted a student who worked retail at his stand, which has been at the market for 15 years.
“[They would] come down and work for a few hours, and [it would] give ‘em some extra jingles in their pockets,” he said.
Upon stepping foot onto the mall, market-goers are greeted by the scents of fresh roasted coffee, the sight of baskets of organic apples and fleecy hand-spun, sheep’s-wool goods. The farmers and vendors at the market have dedicated great amounts of time to their craft, and rain or shine, students, faculty and community members alike frequent the market to share in the homegrown eats and handcrafted goods.
One farmer said that Bowdoin students are often thought of less as clientele and more as friends, as both are trying to carve their place in the state.
“I’ve had some good relationships over the years with young students. You know, I had a girl from Pennsylvania who brought me a Winesap apple back [from home.] We liked to talk apples and things like that. It’s been fun to have Bowdoin students around,” said Rick Dwinnell of Meadow Brook Farm and Orchards.
Dwinnell’s stand exhibits classic autumn goods—tables lined with wooden barrels of fruit and jugs of chilled cider pressed from his own apples. A brisk fall breeze was all that was missing to make it feel like a characteristic fall day. Several farmers assured, however, that these days are not long away; Maine never seems to disappoint when it comes to delivering frigid temperatures.
When the cold does set in, Dan Sortwell, roastmaster at Big Barn Coffee is prepared to provide market-goers with a warm cup of fresh roasted coffee. Sortwell proudly declared that the beans he brewed and sold that day had been roasted just one day prior. Coffee enthusiasts would be hard pressed to find a fresher cup of coffee in Brunswick.
Luanne Downey, a market frequenter and Brunswick resident was particularly enthusiastic about Copper Tail Farm, stocked with goat milk products like marinated cheeses, caramel sauce traditionally termed “cajeta” and handmade soaps. Owner Jon McKee of Waldoboro, Maine said that he and his wife had waited five years to obtain a spot at the market. The city limits the market to only 16 vendors at a time, none of whom are eager to give up their downtown spot.
“It’s a really good market, and that’s all we ever heard about it,” said Mckee, who was surprised at how long it had taken him to earn the two-day-a-week spot on the mall. McKee chuckled, motioning to the Bourbon cajeta, and declared it a favorite among students.
Dwinnell lamented that squirrels had eaten a lot of his crop and had caused substantial damage.
In attending the market, students experience a small sampling of Maine agriculture, a taste which allows them to better understand the deep-rooted, agricultural lifestyle of rural Maine.
“Kids always like to eat, and there’s always stuff here for them to eat!” said Keough.
Asked if she ever saw Bowdoin students at the market, Downey responded, “never enough!”