Many students know the Brunswick Town Commons as a parking spot for the Taco the Town food truck or as the setting of the wintertime ice rink. However, when the ice melts and Bowdoin’s students return to regular serotonin levels, the Town Commons becomes home to the Brunswick Farmers’ Market.
From May to November, every Tuesday and Friday, buyers flood the Town Green, strolling from stand to stand and filling their tote bags with an assortment of local goods. The vendors sell fresh produce, meat, dairy products, baked goods, rabbits (presumably for use as pets…) and much more.
One such vendor is Derek Deeger, who runs Hootenanny Bread at several farmers’ markets across the region, from Damariscotta to Brunswick.
“I sell bread: artisan breads, rustic breads, sourdoughs, pre-fermented breads, baguettes, ciabattas, bagels, cookies, everything,” Deeger said, gesturing wildly with his bread tongs.
Wearing tie-dye Crocs and a baking apron, Deeger not only shares his love of bread at the market, but he also plays his ukulele for patrons as they pass by.
Before moving to Maine, Deeger completed a masters degree in fine arts and spent a decade in New York as a painter. After discovering his passion for baking at the 2011 Kneading Conference in Skowhegan, he started baking out of restaurant kitchens that he would rent during unoccupied hours. Deeger has since upgraded to an in-house production space, and he has been selling at the downtown Brunswick market for three seasons.
Right next door to Hootenanny Bread is Copper Tail Farm’s stand, which exclusively sells goat dairy products.
“We sell cheese, yogurt, ice cream, soap, lotion, et cetera,” Isabel Carlson, who was operating the stand, said.
Carlson explained that all of Copper Tail’s products come from around 75 goats and are made at an on-farm creamery in Waldoboro.
One thing that all the vendors have in common is their love for the community that develops through the Brunswick Farmers’ Market and other fairs across the state.
“The other thing I love about being a farmers’ market baker is selling with the farmers,” Deeger said. “I’ve really made a community of people that are good friends, and my customers are my good friends. I love doing it.”
Jess Saunders of Lost and Found Farm also appreciates the opportunity to engage with farmers in the area and share her products with Brunswick residents, who she believes makes the Brunswick farmer’s market particularly unique.
“I love being in close proximity to other farmers and being able to connect and share information and be a part of this community in such a consistent way,” Saunders said. “We get a lot of local regulars. Some other markets are very much fueled by tourists in the summer season. Here, you get the constant feedback of the Brunswick community, and that’s a really special feature of this market.”
Bowdoin’s students and faculty take advantage of their proximity to the market each year. Professor of Environmental Studies and Government and Legal Studies Shana Starobin has taken several of her classes to visit the market. Megan Tan ’23 took Starobin’s class “Talking to Farmers and Fishermen” last semester, and she is now in her class “Private Actors, Public Goods.” In both classes, Tan learned about local farming and business through interactions with vendors at the market.
“It’s nice for people to see and interact with the people who actually grow their food,” Tan said. “It humanizes the food system.”
Other students visit the market to get out of the Bowdoin bubble and connect with community members. Sophie Lipset ’24 discovered the Brunswick Farmers’ Market during the summer after her sophomore year and has been a proponent ever since.
“The vendors are great, the food’s good and it’s not too expensive,” Lipset said. “It’s a fun way to get off campus.”
The last market of the year is on November 24. After that, Brunswick residents will have to wait until late spring to meet Deeger at Hootenanny Bread or to buy a bar of goat soap on the town green, so enjoy it while the season lasts.