The Working Waterfront

Maine Sail Freight offers new way to think about trade

Events this summer link farm food to shipping ports

Severine von Tscharner Fleming
Posted 2015-07-16
Last Modified 2015-07-16

What do we who produce food from the land and sea have in common? For one thing, a changing climate. Changes in the weather have big impacts on the businesses and industries that straddle nature and the market.

Another challenge is that farmers and fisher people are getting older, and both industries are critically reliant on young people entering the work.

But both farming and fishing show there are new ways forward, including alternative value-chains that respect the people and places involved.

As founder and director of Greenhorns, a young farmers organization whose mission is to recruit, promote and support the incoming generation of sustainable farms and farmers, I’m pleased about this summer’s flagship event, Maine Sail Freight.

Maine Sail Freight could be described as a “pageant of logistics” that invites a wide audience to learn about traditional trade routes and maritime history. We have 15 events planned throughout the summer in many Maine ports. For our final sail (Aug. 23-31) we aim to ship 11 tons of Maine-produced cargo from Portland to Boston.

Shipping via sail, for us, is more futurism than historical re-enactment.

Since colonial times, Maine’s economy has been tied to natural resource extraction. While reflecting on that history, Maine Sail gives us a celebratory context through which to explore the relationships, logistics and human practices of trade. This is particularly important now, as our country and Congress debate whether or not to continue headlong in the trajectory of globalization and free trade.

How do we build the human skills of cooperation, teamwork and balanced enterprise? How do we find a truce between the ecological integrity of natural systems and our human appetite?

Maine Sail Freight invites our participants to fill their imaginations with trade winds of a different future—a common future, a creative future and a sustainable future.

The wind, oceans, fish, seaweeds are commons. The airwaves are a commons used by the radio. Their stewardship, and that of the land, is our joint responsibility.

No one understands the tensions of society and ecology better than those living along a working waterfront. We invite you to join us in celebrating the marriage of sea and land and people, to find us dockside at one of our events, to add your voice to our Maine Sail Freight “Manifest-o,” a small booklet aimed at inspiring sail-powered trade in our common future.

For information about the events, see: