Raising crops has always been a difficult way to make a living, but twenty-first century Maine farmers are facing challenges the likes of which they haven’t seen before.
By Michaela Cavallaro
Photograph by Jennifer Smith-Mayo
Farming in Maine is an exercise in contrast. On one end of the spectrum are the lifestyle operations, with one farmer, a few acres, and a small but diverse array of crops sold to individuals. Located largely within easy driving distance of the state’s population centers, these farms can satisfy their owners’ urges to till the earth — but perhaps not their desire to draw a steady paycheck. On the other end are Maine’s large producers, which may boast a seasonal workforce of fifty or so, more than a thousand acres, and one crop — potatoes, broccoli, blueberries, or even rutabagas — that’s sold as a commodity. Though commodity farmers often receive a lower per-pound price for their produce than do small farmers, they make up for it on volume, which can be substantial.
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