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The Project

There is an old structure in Starks that has been home to local farm organizations for more than 130 years – first the Sandy River Agricultural Society, then the Starks Grange, now the Maine Alternative Agriculture Association.

Thanks to a Rural Business Enterprise Grant in the amount of $199,000, from the United States Department of Agriculture, MA3 is set to launch an ambitious local foods project in that historic building.

The funds will allow us to create a commercial kitchen/bakery and collection/distribution point for local farm products for central Maine Food Clubs. Eventually, we hope to renovate the entire building and create a destination gourmet, local-foods restaurant for serious foodies.

It is a major project but two and a half years into the process we are well on our way to having a beautiful facility – including, thanks to the influence of the annual Kneading Conference in Skowhegan, a massive wood-fired brick oven for artisanal baking.

And the wheat for the breads and pizzas destined for that oven is being grown on Harakiel Farm, right next door.

In July, 2010, we held an Open House and invited our USDA partners and our neighbors to stop in and see the progress. The oven was fired up for the first time and a smorgasbord of specialty breads, pizzas, local vegetables, cheeses and cold cuts was laid on. What a blast!

Everyone commented on the special feel of the place. And why not? The walls are steeped in 130 years worth of farming tradition. And it still goes on.

Maine Alternative Agriculture Association - 699 Anson Road - Starks, Maine 04911 - 207-696-3332 - info@mainealternativeag.org