Summer vacation is under way all over the state, but that’s no reason to stop learning. Summer is the perfect time to visit a dairy farm, partake in an on-the-farm meal, take advantage of Open Farm Day and Maine Farm Days, or even go to farm camp!
Hart to Hart Farm in Albion is a diversified dairy farm that offers several sessions of summer camp for children who want to learn about the day to day life on a farm. There are programs for all ages – some give a great overview, while others are for older children and really start to delve into sustainable farming practices or traditional skills. There’s even a Critters and Crafts program in which children are paired with their own animal and the crafts are farm and nature inspired. Hart to Hart also has one day programs for the entire family, and this year, they even added a farm camp retreat program for adults! Visit hart2hartfarm.org for a schedule and more information.
Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook is a working dairy farm and also has a barnyard full of friendly critters. They are open daily, and they promise the chores are never ending if you want to lend a hand. Plus they process and bottle their own milk AND make cheese and ice cream, so you can see dairy products from start to finish and do a little taste testing. Visit smilinghill.com for more information.
Educational farms like Wolfe’s Neck Farm in Freeport and Pineland Farms in New Gloucester often have day programs for the entire family to come and learn together. Wolfe’s Neck has Family Barnyard Programs Saturday and Sundays through the end of August. Morning sessions are 10 a.m. to Noon, and afternoon sessions are 1-3 p.m. They also offer farm-related summer camps for several age groups. Pineland’s dairy barn is open to visitors and tours as is the creamery next door, and you won’t want to leave without some of their cheese curds. They have events like Family Farmyard Fun on June 17 and 25 and Friday on the Farm (10-11:30) each week, and Ice Cream Making is on June 23. Both farms also have on-farm meal events that feature food from their own farms as well as other Maine farms. Visit wolfesneckfarm.org and pinelandfarms.org/what-to-do/ for schedules and offerings.
Maine Open Farm Sunday is on July 26 this year. More than 85 farms across the state welcome families to come tour the operation or see demonstrations. Visit getrealmaine.com for a list of participating farms. Harris Farm, another diversified farm, in Dayton, has Lunch on the Land that day, featuring corn, vegetable platters, burgers, homemade desserts and milk straight from the farm. They also offer a free educational hayride tour of the farm that day.
Maine Farm Days is Wednesday and Thursday, August 26-27, at Misty Meadows Farm, a dairy farm, in Clinton. The event includes activities for both farmers and non-farmers alike. While it’s a chance for farmers to connect with Agri-business owners and check over some of the new equipment, there are also wagon tours, a children’s learning center, petting farm, craft tent, milking contest, farmers market and educational speakers and presentations. Contestants for the Maine Dairy Princess contest will be there as well as a number of farmers from all different fields (pun intended) who are always happy to answer farm-related questions for the general public. And you don’t have to be a farmer to enter the Whoopie Pie or Pie Baking Contests. The event is open to everyone and admission is free.
Open Creamery Day is perfect for the cheese-loving family. Dairy farms and creameries open their doors on October 11, so you can witness the entire process – cow or goat or sheep to cheese, and they might even give you a taste of the finished product! Visit eatmainecheese.com for a list of participating farms.
There’s no better time than summer to enjoy Maine’s bounty, and there’s no better way to cool down than with a smoothie (or ice cream, but smoothies make a better breakfast or healthy snack, while ice cream is a treat). Really you can throw anything into a smoothie, especially this time of year – greens like spinach and kale with berries like blueberries or raspberries. You can also pour smoothies into popsicle (or ice cube) trays for custom made frozen treats.
Here are a couple of my favorites:
Peach Sunrise Smoothie
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup milk
2 large peaches cut up
¼ tsp vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp honey
Black, Blue and Green Smoothie
½ cup plain yogurt
1 cup milk
1 cup blueberries and blackberries (frozen or throw in half a dozen small ice cubes)
1 to 2 cups fresh spinach
1 Tbsp honey
Blend ingredients thoroughly and enjoy!