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Pineland Farms, New Gloucester

On occasion, we’ve come to Pineland Farms in spring or fall when it’s blanketed in green and crowned with leaves. With 5,000 acres to explore, I am in my glory spending time among its wide-open spaces.

But….and I’m not quite sure why… we tend to visit more often in winter.

In winter, we come to cross country ski or simply walk the paved roads in and amongst its brick buildings which are offices to some lucky businesses, the greenhouses of Olivia’s Gardens, the sledding hill, or all the way out to the pristine white barns of Valley Farm to see the Holsteins standing perfectly still in the snow, staring straight at us in competition until they are the ones who look away, bored with us.

And always when we come, we visit the marvelous market with its raw, wooden crates and decor. They sell Stonewall Kitchen jams and jellies, lots of Maine artisan crafts, wines, and wooden toys and books for children. On the day we visit, there has recently been an incident when an “aggressive dive-bombing owl” lunged at a man. Evidently, he was in the owl’s nesting area. On this day we visited, someone has put the owl in the wooden children’s farm in the toy corner on the top of the barn, ready to swoop. I laugh out loud.

In the market, now double in size from the last time I visited, we have soup and home-made breads, our cheeks red from our walk. We hold tea or coffee in cold hands until we thaw out. Then we share a sweet, and buy our goodies to take home – always the produce, cheeses made at Pineland Farms, breads, and meat, today to make a Bolognese. I like to see if the beef “raised without antibiotics, added hormones or steroids, fed a strict vegetarian diet, and treated humanely throughout their lives” tastes different than the meat I buy in a grocery store. Can I tell the difference?

Oh yes. There is no question.

And I love Olivia’s Garden pesticide-free produce – the lettuces are fresh and crisp bright-green, not tired or wilted. The tomatoes are perfectly ripe; the pea shoots to garnish anything from pork chops to pizza are delicious. (And as a marketing person, I commend theirs because their logo just makes me happy. And “happy” makes me want to buy!)

On this day, I visit with a friend on a frigid afternoon with single digit temperatures. We picked the perfect time of day to come as the sun is beginning to turn into the golden hour. We drive Route 9 through Falmouth and Cumberland, turn left onto Walnut Hill Road in North Yarmouth onto Route 231 which brings us past farms and countryside that make me feel I’m many miles from Maine’s largest city, Portland.

As we crest the hill, the gorgeous red barns of the Equestrian Center flank both sides of Valley Farm Road along with its white fences where the horses roam. From this vantage point, we can look down the hill toward the expanse of snow-covered Pineland Farms including the tiny ice skating pond, white gazebo, and arched foot-bridge.

The last time we cross country skied here, I found the other skiers quite professional and a little out of my realm. The Bates ski team was on the course practicing. And that is what skiing should look like! I walk more than run/glide, but they fly and make it look effortless, a fabulous all-over-body workout in the fresh clean air of their woods.

At this age, we prefer Nordic skiing over downhill. We’re never cold; it’s a fantastic workout; we can do it closer to home; and it’s far less expensive. Adult tickets for an afternoon at Pineland Farms (after 1:00) are $12.

They also have trails for snow shoeing and fat biking.

We are the only ones walking on this day and we do it briskly, up and down the hills of the country lane bringing us to the barns. Each barn is labeled. There is the Dairy Barn, Hay, Calf, Poultry, and the Smokehouse. We walk all the way to the stone yurt and then down the lane bringing us to the Poultry Barn which is a wonderful nature excursion for a child to see and touch and experience.

The Farmyard is open to explorers of all ages and you can even try your hands at milking a cow. Their apt message is:

In an increasingly busy and disconnected world, we feel it is more important now than ever to stay connected to the natural world around us. Here at Pineland it is our mission to:

  • educate participants about local natural history and agriculture

  • inspire participants to become active stewards of land and resources

  • connect participants to forests, fields, livestock and land

  • facilitate a meaningful hands-on experience

  • create a positive educational experience emphasizing fun and learning

Quite an invitation, right?

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