There are a few reasons Aroostook County is referred to as “The Crown of Maine.” The most obvious, of course, is that a traditional map is oriented with north at the top; royalty is oriented with crown on (the misfortunes of the French Revolution notwithstanding). Accordingly, The County rests at the top of the map and on the head of the state.
The appearance of Maine lends itself to a second explanation. Meandering rivers, streams, and other geographical features ultimately distinguished the northern boundary of Maine from the provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec post-Aroostook War. The signers of the treaty that settled this bloodless battle agreed upon a configuration of spires across the top of the state; it takes little imagination to perceive a crown.
Finally, Maine has a certain cachet. You frequently hear enthusiasm, longing and avid curiosity from people from Away when you identify yourself as a Mainer. “I’m from The County” elicits an even stronger response. Aroostook is The Crown of Maine because it is the best of the best.
Residents of The County recognize that this part of Maine is a pretty awesome place to live. Travels along the rivers or over the ridges of Aroostook County reveal our section of the state as a land with million-dollar views from the tops of hillsides, quiet babbling of clear, cool water over glaciated stones in multiple streambeds, and sudden appearances of moose, deer, bear or small woodland creatures. The countryside is punctuated with large and small farms producing everything from chickens to cheese, goats to garlic, and buckwheat to bread. All are welcome distractions while touring the roads that lace together the huge landmass that is Aroostook.
Maine residents are often open, plain-spoken, friendly (though reserved), and willing to help their fellow man. Residents from The Crown of Maine are, again, the best of the best. To truly understand what Aroostook has to offer, therefore, a traveler must stop. This Sunday, July 23, is Open Farm Day. All over the state, including in The County, participating farmers are opening their “doors” to visitors, welcoming them to investigate the places that produce locally grown fruits, vegetables and animal products, ask questions, share stories, carry away ideas or seeds to try in their home gardens (www.maine.gov/dacf/ard/market_promotion/open_farm_day.shtml).
Who knew learning could be so interesting and fun?
Vendors at The Presque Isle Farmers Market knew, that’s who! Every Saturday from May to October between 8:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., local farmers and growers participating in the PIFM gather in the parking lot at the Aroostook Centre Mall. In addition to selling fresh, locally grown, fabulously flavorful foodstuffs and handmade crafts, they are happy to share stories and information, answer questions, and contribute to the adventure that our customers have come to know and appreciate each week. Consider it both a sneak preview and a follow-up to your Open Farm Day adventure on the 23rd. See you there.
The Presque Isle Farmer’s market’s chair/president for the remainder of the season is Deena Albert-Parks of Chops Ahoy farm in Woodland. For information about participating or visiting the market, contact her at email@example.com.