News Feature

Blue Hill
Originally published in The Weekly Packet, October 11, 2012
Saturday Local Food Exchange brings fresh venue for farm community

by Anne Berleant

On Saturday, October 20, the Saturday Local Food Exchange will hold its first weekly market at the Mainescape greenhouse in Blue Hill from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The brainchild of John Altman, of Brooksville, who began running Sunshine Farm at David Wasson’s (“At what point does it stop being a folly?” asks Altman) in 2011, the Exchange differs from a farmers market in its intent.

“We’re trying to create an atmosphere where you can come in, hang out,” Altman said in a recent telephone call.

In addition to focusing more on prepared food than a farmers’ market might, “We don’t have an overlap…We have one vendor or member for each spectrum of food,” Altman said.

A dozen vendors are slated to offer local goods, from goat dairy products from Altman’s farm to Tinder Hearth bread and specialty items to local farms selling pork, produce and root vegetables—and coffee, of course. Prepared foods run the gamut of barbecue and spring rolls to Chai beverages.

“We have limited space so I don’t think we have room for more,” Altman said. Mainescape has committed its greenhouse to the Saturday market throughout the winter, and Altman hopes to find an outdoor venue come spring.

The Saturday Local Food Exchange is the beginning of a “much bigger idea,” he said of trying to run a local food exchange in Blue Hill, that would market local farm and artesian products. This would be similar to the Blue Hill Co-op except that the goods would be grown and raised in local farms.

“We’re not trying to compete with the Co-op. A lot of us as farmers just don’t have margins. It’s very difficult for us to take a cut in what we need to sell our product for,” he said.

“Really what I’m trying to do is throw it out there as a discussion. Maybe this discussion happens at this market we’re having.”

Altman, who said he finds it a “misnomer” that the state is difficult to work with as a small-scale farmer, spent 20 years in construction with his own Penobscot building company. Now he raises goats, sheep, chickens and pigs and grows vegetables on Sunshine Farm with his wife Emma.

He and other local producers of farm-raised and -made goods will have a chance to show, and sell, their wares at the Saturday Local Food Exchange, beginning Saturday, October 20, at the Mainescape greenhouse from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information, contact Altman at johnaltman@localfoodexchangeme.com. />