By Joanna Levin
September 18, 2020
Prior to November 2016, Spear Spring Farm in Warren, Maine was abandoned and destined for commercial development. The family farm that had been passed down through the Spear family since the 1700’s was then purchased and saved from development in 2016, and is now a 170-acre organic farm in its third farming season. Despite being new to the local and organic food scene in Maine, Spear Spring Farm proudly grows a variety of crops including many greens that are sold at farm stands, markets, and local restaurants.
Jamien Richardson, head of Spear Spring Farm management and operations, reflected on how proud she is of her organization’s progress in carving out a niche in the organic and local food space in Maine. Prior to the onset of COVID-19, Spear Spring Farm was planning to scale up and use fallow farmland for growing this season in an attempt to continue growing their business; however, COVID-19 created a new set of challenges for the farm. Spear Spring Farm was left with a surplus of food from the unexpectedly high yields of crops grown on the fallow land coupled with the impact of restaurant closures that reduced the amount of food the farm was able to sell wholesale. Although Spear Spring Farm had experienced some surplus in the past, COVID-19 dramatically increased both the amount and frequency of surplus food donated to food banks, food pantries, and school meal programs.
Spear Spring Farm has partnered with The Farmlink Project since July, donating a total of 2,440 pounds of fresh and organic produce to communities in need. Most recently, on September 11, Spear Spring Farm donated 400 pounds of fresh heirloom tomatoes to a local Maine food pantry. Jamien remarked, “The Farmlink Project has helped us save time in trying to call food pantries and find organizations that can use the surplus food right away.”
Despite the changes and challenges COVID-19 has forced Spear Spring Farm to confront, the farm has experienced incremental increases in local and direct sales of produce through farm stand sales. Local consumers have flocked to farm stands more frequently in an attempt to avoid the long lines at commercial grocery stores. Locals’ continued dedication to supporting local farm stands has helped Spear Spring Farm to recover from the immediate ramifications of COVID-19.
It was not long ago that Spear Spring Farm’s land was barren and fruitless. Despite the challenges that COVID-19 has brought to the new and developing farm, Jamien is excited about the progress Spear Spring Farm has made. The Farmlink Project is grateful for the continued partnership with Spear Spring Farm. We are incredibly grateful to work with organizations like Spear Spring Farm that are resilient and committed to helping hungry populations.