Farm Frosh

By Jennifer Mitchell
This item is adapted from our content partner, the Maine Public Broadcasting Network (MPBN). Click here to read the full version of this story, see a slideshow, and hear Jennifer Mitchell’s audio report on this topic from MPBN.

“Just a few years ago, if you’d told me that I was going to be a farmer, I would have probably laughed at you,” says Marya Gelvosa. She’s 29, majored in English lit, and had never lived in the country before she and partner Josh Gerritsen — a former NYC photographer — threw all their resources into a fledgling farm in Lincolnville. How typical is this young couple in the farming landscape?

“In Maine, farmers under the age of 35 have increased 40 percent, when nationally that increase is 1.5 percent,” says John Rebar, executive director of University of Maine Cooperative Extension. “So we are way ahead of that national trend.”

A big reason why is that Maine still has affordable land — a luxury not seen in many other parts of the country. And Maine, a hotbed of activity during the 1970s back-to-the-land movement, also has many knowledgeable people working in the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, which offers a training program for new farmers.

“We want to be reconnected with the fundamentals of life,” Gerritsen says. “In the city . . . you buy your food at the supermarket, you work in a cubicle all day. You’re not intimately tied to anything.”