Part of the Cape Farm Alliance’s mission is to support the growth of the many farm and food-related businesses and activities in Cape Elizabeth. Since our inception in 2008 (originally as the Cape Elizabeth Farm Committee), we have grown into a lively and vibrant community of over twenty viable farms and growing operations.
A Brief History…
Cape Elizabeth has a proud farming heritage. As you drive or walk around Cape Elizabeth, you will notice remnants of this rich agricultural history dating back to the 1600’s. Named in 1604 by John Smith to honor King Charles I’s wife Elizabeth, Cape Elizabeth has maintained much of its rural character to the present day. Many of the remaining farms are still owned by descendants of Cape Elizabeth’s original families.
Consider these facts about Cape Elizabeth Farms:
- In 1875 the Scarborough/Cape Elizabeth Farmers Association was formed. They held a fair every fall for about 30 years at Nutter’s Field, Pleasant Hill, Scarborough.
- In 1880, cabbage from Cape Elizabeth sold for $10/ton and was considered the best in the state.
- Cabbage was grown on the mainland and on Richmond’s Island.
- In the early 1900’s peas became a major crop to supplement the already famous cabbage and more produce was being sent by ship (and later by train) to Boston.
- The first tractor in Cape Elizabeth was purchased by Stewart Jordan in 1934. Horses were still the standard hauler of plows into the 1940’s.
- Around 1940 there were between forty and fifty farms in operation in Cape Elizabeth.
- In the 1950’s iceberg lettuce became a major product. 300 to 400 acres were planted in lettuce, on the town’s approximately 20 farms. It was not unusual to ship 2,000 crates of lettuce per day to the Boston Market.
- By the 1960’s about ten farms remained in operation.
Today, our community supports more than 20 growers and horse trainers and boarders, raising everything from Christmas trees to livestock, fruits and vegetables, flowers and herbs – we even have a vineyard!
Click here to get involved and help ensure Cape Elizabeth’s farming future!