Growing Local Exhibition

Growing Local: Wild Maine Blueberry Muffins

Directions: Take one recipe. Add local ingredients. Fold in a photographer.
Cook ’til done. Yield: Growing Local.

Belfast, Maine: The documentary project Growing Local: Wild Maine Blueberry Muffins, created by award-winning photographer Jennifer Smith-Mayo, explores connections between recipes and cooking, local food producers, and community. During the month of March, a selection of photographs from the project will be shown at the Barbara Kramer Gallery in the Belfast Free Library.

Growing Local: Wild Maine Blueberry Muffins
Growing Local: Wild Maine Blueberry Muffins

Growing Local is an idea that began to sprout in the summer of 2007 while Jennifer made blueberry muffins in her Blue Hill farm kitchen. She planned to enter the Blue Hill Fair Blueberry Muffin contest, but didn’t want to enter an ordinary muffin, she wanted to make something special. When she came up with a muffin recipe that used only Maine ingredients—most of them sourced as close to her home as possible—the idea for Growing Local was born.

“I was struck by the intimate connection I made with these muffins. Just that morning, my husband and I—and our two dogs—picked the blueberries from our barren. I bought many of the Maine-produced ingredients from my neighbors or the Blue Hill Co-op,” Jennifer says. “My curiosity was piqued about the others—who in Brooklin made the maple syrup? Grew and milled the wheat into flour in Aroostook? Made sea salt from way Down East? So I mulled over the idea and expanded it further until I developed a documentary project about local food in Maine that also became the basis for my graduate thesis.”

In this, the first Growing Local volume (a second to follow soon of a Rhubarb Crumble recipe in Yorkshire, England), Jennifer uses photography, text, and multimedia pieces to: document the making of the muffins; meet the ingredients’ producers; learn about the history of blueberry muffins; examine the local foods movement in Maine; and explore the benefits of supporting local foods producers and how they inevitably strengthen the local economy.

Part personal journey, part documentary endeavor, Jennifer combines her passion for cooking and local foods, adds in a heaping tablespoon of curiosity, folds in photography, and yields Growing Local. Look for the full project, which will include an enhanced e-book, DVD, and more, in Fall 2012.

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