by Dale Finseth
It is that season when we begin to see more products from local farms. Local products are there year round but we don't seem to notice them until we see the roadside vendors.
Like the rest of the state, Kennebec County has been adding farms and farmers rather than losing them. In fact, the recent "Census of Agriculture" reports an increase of 6% of the reported farms in the past five years, 2012 to 2017. While many of the new farms are smaller, the average size of the 1,136 farms reporting in Kennebec County was 128 acres.
While the total market value of products sold has not changed much the farm related income has improved by about 25%. So…, expenses have decreased far more than the slight decline in income. As one of our supervisors used to say, "While I always like to get paid more for my milk, I can do just as well by spending less."
While most of the farms are still relatively small, with about 50% being less than 50 acres in size, we do have eight farms reporting over 1,000 acres. Fewer of the farms are dairy farms, but Kennebec County is still the county producing the most milk in the State of Maine. We remain the "Dairy Capitol of Maine".
The mix of farming in Maine has become more and more diverse over the past, That is certainly the case in Kennebec County.
Based on this report fully 33% of the reporting farms are new and have beginning farmers, which means that they have been farming for less than ten years. Support your local farms and farmers. Check out USDA's website for county by county profiles of agriculture in Maine.
Conservation Too columns are written by staff at by the Kennebec County Soil and Water Conservation District in Augusta. For more information about the district and its projects, call Dale Finseth at