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County Ag Report: Supporting Small Farms

Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 11:41 AM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - Aroostook County is known for being small farm friendly, but large farms still own the grocery aisles. 

Dr Roxanne bruce started shop small farms because she wanted to bridge the gap between customers and local farms. She began buying wholesale from farms, then selling produce, dairy, and meat to customers—and delivering them directly to their doors

Bruce got covid, and thought Shop Small Farms was done for—until Michael Smith and Blake Harvey moved to the county from New York City.

“We came up here and one of the first things we wanted to do was start a small homestead,” said Harvey.

They had the same goal in supporting small farms.

“Unless we support them in sustainable agriculture, rotation of crops, grazing animals... in case of an emergency where we cant go out, we cant transport, without small farms our food system will be gone,” said Bruce.

Sustainable agriculture in this case means regenerative agriculture—they’re feeding the soil, which puts nutrients into the produce—and that produce is often more nutritious than what you’re picking up in a grocery store

“I can eat half the amount of food and twice the amount of nutrients and half the amount of calories,” she added.

Harvey says some farmers may be hesitant to get into sustainable farming—it can be expensive, and they need to know that the consumers are there

“So we’re coming in letting them know that we have customers that are putting their money where their mouth is and are committed to buying that product,” said Harvey.

Shop Small Farms has stretched into working with local dairy farmers, meat producers, and even baked goods and herb providers. Bruce says, their goal is to introduce customers to healthier foods, and remind small farmers that profit is doable.

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