The Orono Farmers’ Market is older than most students attending the University of Maine. In operation since 1994, the market has had a steadily successful 26 years. Over 25 members — farms and food vendors from around the state — participate yearly, showing up rain or shine to sell their locally-produced food items.
The options vary greatly, depending on the provider and what is available at different times throughout the season. At this time of year, there is a lot to harvest and the market’s tents are full of vegetables, melons, squash and apples — among other produce. On Tuesday, Sept. 10, carrots, apples, green beans, cantaloupe melon and more were available.
Supporting local farmers is important, and just minutes down the road, well-priced, fresh organic food is available. In an age where most food productions operate on a global scale, it’s a privilege to have access to the quality of food sold at the market. Most people pay extra for organic food if they can afford it at all.
Not only is the Orono Farmers’ Market a great place to shop, but it also provides a hub for people in the community to interact directly with the providers of their food, rather than just purchase it at the supermarket. It’s strange to think about how far removed people are from the source of their food these days. In contrast, having direct contact with the source allows for a real appreciation of the food we eat.
At Tuesday’s market, a sole proprietor discussed his table and products. He apologized for how under-represented he was due to his usual truck being in the shop. Still, his small table was full of seasonal vegetables like carrots as well as winter squash and potatoes. Given how long the market has been up and running, it’s impressive how consistent the community support has been. The university contributes to the influx of new faces every year.
The location of the Farmers’ Market makes it easy for University of Maine students to participate in the local community. In the summer season, which is May 4 through Nov. 23, the market takes place in the Steam Plant parking lot off College Avenue, making it an easy walk from campus. The hours of operation are Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon and Tuesdays from 2 to 5:30 p.m. In the winter months, December through March, they relocate to Asa Adams Elementary School gym in Orono.
On Saturdays, there are a lot more options at the Farmers Market than just fruits and vegetables. For example, the YumBus, a food truck that sells delicious sweet and savory crepes, comes to the Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings. Another tent sells fresh bagels, croissants and various pastries. You can often taste test homemade hummus with fresh baked bread. And if you’re looking for something sweet, there’s a stand with mason jars full of jam and honey.
So when next Tuesday or Saturday comes around, grab a reusable shopping bag and check out all the great options local Maine businesses and farms have to offer.