WINTHROP — Families toured Cranberry Rock Farm Sunday under bright sunshine and clear blue skies.

While the fields were a little warm and a tad dusty, farmer Ron DiGravio climbed a weed-choked fence to splash water on three large brown pigs that came out of their huts when they heard his tractor roar.

They rooted around in the mud for a minute before settling into their new mud pond, providing amusement to visitors.

DiGravio and Cindy Townsend have owned the farm for about four years, but Sunday was their debut at Open Farm Day, an annual event showcasing family farms and aimed at teaching consumers about local food producers.

It is promoted by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

This is the 27th year the event has been held.

The couple took turns taking families on tours of the farm at 427 Mount Pisgah Road and showing off the pigs, the young turkeys, their meat birds and their vegetables.

While cranberry is referenced in the name, there’s nary a one on the farm.

“We inherited the name when we bought the house,” DiGravio said. “We figured it would be bad karma to change it.”

On Sunday, visitors congregated first in the 200-year-old barn, where a handwritten sign urged, “Reserve your pasture raised Thanksgiving Turkey today … ask for a form.” That then was the fate of the turkeys so young they huddled under a heat lamp for warmth in a different barn.

A few roosters strutted atop an adjacent enclosure, one of them crowing the arrival of noon.

In the next room large garlic bulbs, greens still attached, lay drying on racks. In fields bulbous tops of red and white onions poked out of the arid ground.

“My favorite thing is seeking all the work they’ve done,” said Megan Blasius, 11, of Monmouth, after a tour. “We’ve been working on (our) little garden for years.”

Her younger brother Kyle said he likes picking the produce from their garden, which has included cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, beets and zucchini so far this year.

They were out for some tips from farmers, and they and their parents, Cathy and Brad Blasius, intended to stop by two other local farms Sunday afternoon.

DiGravio said the Cranberry Rock Farm pond is almost dry as a result of having to irrigate so much this year, so drilling a new well is moving to the top of the to-do list. That will also help with water needed at new greenhouses they hope to install.

DiGravio, a former ski coach and athletic program manager at Carrabassett Valley Academy, had been a gardener before stepping up to become a producer and grower. Townsend too came from academia.

“I gardened my whole life,” DiGravio said. “That was the only experience I had. I’m self-taught through the school of hard knocks.”

The range of knocks includes learning about different insect pests. “Once you start growing on a larger scale, it becomes a problem,” he said.

Because the produce is certified organic by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, and he declines to use even approved sprays, DiGravio and Townsend rely on nets — lots of nets — to help discourage Japanese beetles, cucumber beetles and others seeking to devour crops.

Sarah Berry, owner of White Berry Farm in North Monmouth, and her family came to visit the Cranberry Rock Farm as well. Berry said her farm has fiber animals plus some cut flowers.

Berry urged DiGravio to consider joining a Winthrop Farmers’ Market that she hopes to have open 1-6 p.m. Sundays on Royal Street near the Paris Farmers Union.

DiGravio said he was interested because he likes selling to his neighbors. Cranberry Rock Farm already participates in several farmers markets and currently has 25 community supported agriculture customers.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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