Blueberries to Potatoes: Farming in Maine

Text by Candace Kanes

Images from Maine Historical Society, Aroostook County Historical and Art Museum, Easton Historical Society, Freeport Historical Society, Fryeburg Historical Society, Haystack Historical Society, L.C. Bates Museum/Good Will-Hinckley Homes, New Sweden Historical Society, Norridgewock Historical Society, Nylander Museum, Oakfield Historical Society, Pejepscot Historical Society, Presque Isle Historical Society, Sanford Historical Committee, Southern Aroostook Agricultural Museum and United Society of Shakers

There is a Maine joke in which the farmer is asked what he is growing. "Rocks" is his answer. Maine's rocky soil might not conjure up images of miles of wheat blowing in the wind. Maine, as the most wooded state in the nation, might not seem like a farm state.

Yet, farming has long been integral to the survival of Maine's people and an important part of the state's economy.

From general farms to large commercial establishments, farming in Maine has been affected by national economic trends, competition as the population moved westward, and various changes in technology.

Railroads helped make Aroostook County the potato capital and canning helped making Washington and Hancock counties significant in the blueberry market and many counties in Maine significant in the production of sweet corn.

Potatoes and blueberries remain as visible crops in the state, but there are many fewer small general farms here or elsewhere, and those that exist rarely provide a full-time living for the farmers. Many Maine agricultural products now are produced for far-flung commercial markets.

View slideshow