Nestled in the corner parking lot of the Chamber of Commerce Building on South Street in Dover-Foxcroft is the Dover Cove Farmers' Market. It is a small parking lot, but filled to the brim with the sights and smells of a spring harvest....Maine Maple Syrup, seedlings, spring onions, garlic, and leeks, and some delicious looking breads and other treats. They are open on Tuesday afternoons from 2-6 and Saturday 9-1.
I was very fortunate to be able to chat with Gale Robinson from Leaves and Blooms Greenhouse (located in Dover-Foxcroft) as well as Gretchen Huettner from Farm in the Woods (located in Monson). These ladies are passionate about farming, local agriculture, and most importantly their community!
The Dover Cove Farmers' Market has a variety of baked goods, produce, and many other locally made products for you to choose from at a variety of price points. If you are like me, you often forget to make sure you have cash on hand, but never fear, they are all set up to take debit and credit cards as well as cash and checks.
They also accept SNAP EBT cards and participate in Harvest Bucks, a grant program funded by the state which allows your EBT money to double! Purchase bread, baked beans, or other food with your EBT and receive Harvest Bucks to purchase your produce in the same amount. You can even purchase seedlings to grow you own food with this program. The Harvest Bucks can be used the same day OR you can save them up for later in the season as well. Gale wants you to know you can still bring in last years Harvest Bucks and redeem them. New this year is the Frequent Shopper card: shop the Farmers' Market 3 times, and your 4th visit you get an extra $10 to spend. "Come and try some of our fresh veggies! For $5 you can get $10 worth of food to try!", noted Gretchen. And after getting $15 worth of Harvest Bucks, you will get an additional $10 the next time you come. They are also a stop with the UMaine Cooperative Extension Office's Passport Project--every child enrolled in the program gets Veggie Vouchers too!
What makes a Farmers' Market so special? These little jewels are brimming with fresh, locally grown and sourced food--from onions to breads to meats and eggs, all in one stop shopping. The most important part of a Farmers' Market in my humble opinion though, is the KNOWLEDGE that is there. While talking with Gretchen, a customer came to her stand and I got to sit back and listen. Not only are Gretchen, Gale, and the rest of the farms interested in sharing their products, they want to share their knowledge. Ask them questions about the food they are selling and they can tell you 100 things about how to prepare and store them, and just amaze you in general with their knowledge. Gretchen worked with a couple who were new to the area while I was peeking at her produce.
Not only did she help the couple pick out the seedlings that were best to grow for their new home, she also shared her knowledge of the area, what to see and do, and made them feel incredibly welcome in their new community. She loves hearing the phrase, "My kids won't eat that", and sharing creative ways to introduce new foods to kids ways that they will be open to trying.
Which led to our conversation about Red Flannel Hash. Show of hands, how many of you ate Red Flannel Hash when you were kids? Or still eat it today? I had honestly never heard of it before Gretchen mentioned it, and how it is a really fun way to introduce a food that most people say they don't like but haven't really tried. Suddenly Gale jumped into the conversation. When Gale was young she used to come home so excited about eating Red Flannel Hash with her grandmother, "and my mother would laugh because she knew I wouldn't touch a beet at home!" Red Flannel Hash is best (or so I am told) by using leftover beets and potatoes, adding some garlic, onion, and a little ground pepper and either heating it all up in a large skillet, or making them up into patties and pan frying them. Either way, I know what I am trying this weekend!
Share with us your favorite recipe, story, or why you love shopping at the Farmers' Markets/Farm Stands in our community.
Till next time,