By Maia Welbel
November 30, 2020
In Autumn in central Maine, orchards thrive at The Apple Farm. Rows of lush green trees are specked with shiny red fruit, and families amble through, filling baskets as they pick. The land itself has been cultivated since before Maine was declared a state in 1820, but the farm’s current proprietors, Steven and Marilyn Meyerhans, took ownership in 1973. “Our mission since then has been ‘Apples for humanity,’” Steven says.
The Apple Farm prides itself on growing crisp and delicious heirloom apple varieties, selling the best fresh-pressed cider around, and offering an environment for locals and visitors to harvest the fruit and enjoy time in nature. But equally important is the Meyerhans’ commitment to supporting their surrounding community. “We always try to be of service,” Steven says. “We reach out to and work with programs in the area that help folks who need food, because we believe that healthy food and healthy farms make for healthy communities.”
Throughout November, in collaboration with The Farmlink Project, The Apple Farm donated four 600-pound bins of apples to the nearby People Who Care Food Cupboard. Thanks to the Meyerhans’ experience packaging and transporting their fresh fruit to food justice organizations like the People Who Care Food Cupboard, the entire process occurred seamlessly. “Steven was super friendly and excited about Farmlink,” says Mia Foster, a member of The Farmlink Project’s Deals Team who spearheaded the partnership. “He was super flexible and offered many different avenues for volume and packaging depending on what the food bank needed and could accept,” she says.
In addition to The Apple Farm’s giving initiatives to support food security in the area, Steven and Marilyn have built a farming operation that runs sustainably. “We hope to have as small a footprint as possible,” Steven says. “As soon as we were able, we put up a system of solar panels that power the electricity at the farm. And the day I replaced my propane forklift with an electric was the best day!” Agriculture accounts for a significant portion of greenhouse gas emissions nationally, and these mitigation strategies can have meaningful impact. “We know that the environment is all we’ve got—we love it and we don’t want to hurt it,” Steven says.
The Apple Farm’s mission statement reads: “We are committed to preserving agricultural land for today’s and tomorrow’s needs. We are also committed to preserving open space and public access to the land. We feel that the need for good food can and should be met locally as much as possible and we strive to meet that need.” Prioritizing not only the quality and legacy of their produce, but also the wellbeing of the communities and ecology that allow it to flourish, The Apple Farm exemplifies a people- and planet-centered model for the future of growing food.