We know of cheese trails, beer trails and wine trails, but this is the first we’ve heard of a farmers market trail. The Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets has just published a handsome illustrated map of what it’s calling the Washington County Farmers’ Market Trail. Should you be so inclined, you could pick up duck eggs at the Lubec Market, a rutabaga at the Milbridge Farmers’ Market and fiddleheads at the Calais Farmers’ Market – though admittedly it’d be hard, probably impossible to hit all the markets in a single day.

On one side, a map pinpoints the location of several Down East farmers markets. On the other, six markets get a street map detail, a brief description, watercolor illustrations by Machias artist Nicole DeBarber and a list of possible free nearby activities. After you’ve finished your grocery shopping in Machias, for instance, you can watch eagles fish near a roaring waterfall; in Eastport, you can take a self-guided historical walking tour that covers 100 years of American architectural styles.

“For anyone who loves fresh, local food, and loves to explore Maine, these markets are perfect destinations to start or cap off a day trip Downeast,” touts a blurb on the map.

The maps, which are free, were funded by the Quimby Family Foundation and designed by cartographer Margot Carpenter of Belfast-based Hartdale Maps.

Leigh Hallett, executive director of the Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets, said that in addition to letting tourists and daytrippers know about the markets, she also hoped to spur collaboration among Down East markets and to help the markets play larger roles within their communities.

“Those markets are further apart from one another than those in central and southern Maine,” she said. “It’s harder for them to network with one another. We want more people to remember the markets are there with fresh food that is relatively uncommon in Washington County, to get people to think of farmers markets as an important part of their community. Here’s a tool to help do that.”

Hallett says the Washington County Farmers’ Market Trail was a pilot project. Interest in doing a similar project elsewhere in Maine is high, and the federation is already discussing how to organize future maps – county by county? A coastal trail?

Meanwhile, 5,000 of the Washington County maps were printed and have been distributed at the markets themselves, visitors centers, libraries and chambers of commerce. Should you be heading Down East, you can also request a map at assistant@mffm.org and find information about the Washington County Farmers’ Market Trail at mainefarmersmarkettrail.org.


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