For a snap shot of small-town farmers’ markets, visit the lakes region town of Harrison in the foothills of western Maine.
If you’re passing through the lakes region on a Friday afternoon in the summer and fall, one lucky find is a little farmer’s market along Route 117, a westerly continuation of Route 302 after Bridgton. In fact, set your GPS for Bridgton Road, Harrison, and you’ll get there some 40 miles later from Portland. Once there you’ll find a gem of a market known as the Harrison Farmer’s Market. It’s open on Fridays only from 1 to 5 p.m.
The market is surely a snippet of farm commerce showcasing only 5 to 6 hardy vendors who in total sell a nice variety of products. The main draw for me was to visit High View Farm, known for their artisanal quality, sustainably produced unpasteurized dairy products: heavy cream, rich, old-fashioned buttermilk (with curds—not cultured) butter and milk. They don’t, however, bring their butter to market because it sells at the farm as soon as it’s churned. If you want some, call ahead to reserve for pick up.
The farm has been in the Winslow family since 1810, and many generations later Bill and Darcy Winslow are keepers of the flame to this day.
The milk comes from a small herd of Guernsey cows who produce milk with some of the highest fat content. It has that wonderful yellow tinge from cows that graze on pasture only, producing milk that seems kissed by the sun-drenched grassy meadows.
High View milks their cows in the morning so that what’s in the bottle is literally fresh from the farm that day. If you go to the farm and place your order beforehand it will be ready for you.
Truth be told I wasn’t passing through this area but instead was looking for a market to go to on a Friday afternoon. I scanned the Get Real. Get Maine! site that lists all the markets by county and day of the week in operation, and found several open on Fridays within a reasonable drive from Portland. One was in Freeport and the other was Harrison.
I was glad to visit this market because besides High View there were other interesting vendors. One was the baker Edith Sherkis of Angry Mountain Farm in Albany, Maine, and her baked goods were terrific. At her stand I wolfed down a strawberry hand pie—a pastry held together in a very buttery crust–flaky and delicious with fresh berry filling. I also tried the savory samosas and bought some cookies, donuts and a blueberry cake.
At Green Roots farm stand I picked up some heirloom tomatoes, a good buy at only $5 for the quart basket. In fact prices are very reasonable here compared with Portland and elsewhere. The cream at High View, for instance, is $3.50 for the pint compared to $7.00 in other markets.
While the nearby Saturday Bridgton Farmer’s Market with its 21 vendors has a larger presence, Harrison’s smaller marketplace depicts a true snap shot of family farming in Maine at its most elemental.