Maine’s food system is key to ensuring environmental and economic security for the state and beyond. How our food is grown and where it comes from are critical for the health of our communities. Consumers are increasingly demanding more food grown locally or regionally. Direct-to-consumer markets, like CSAs and farmers’ markets, provide an important avenue for farmers to make a premium and for consumers to buy fresh products. But to scale up our local food system to meet the growing demand, local producers need access to new markets, such as wholesale and institutional, as well as to patient sources of capital.
In Maine, CLF works collaboratively with farming organizations to address these issues. We are studying and advancing policies at the local and state levels to help expand the state’s agricultural and food sector. Our approach is broad-based, addressing everything from barriers to farmland access for new and beginning farmers to economic impediments for farms to scale up. We are partnering with American Farmland Trust and Land for Good to study what policies can make farmland more affordable and accessible to the increasing number of people starting farms in Maine. In Portland, CLF is working with the Mayor’s Initiative for a Healthy and Sustainable Food System, which is the city’s food council. We are helping the Initiative conduct a comprehensive review of laws that affect the Portland food system.
We are also working to support local food in Maine through our Legal Food Hub. The Hub connects farmers, food entrepreneurs, and the organizations that support them with pro bono legal services to help ensure that their businesses and farms can survive and thrive.