BRUNSWICK WINTER FARMER’S MARKET
For three and a half hours each Saturday morning, the Brunswick Winter Market is held at Fort Andross Mill. The former textile mill sits at the end of Main Street, just before the bridge to Topsham. The Winter Market happens on the first floor – in a huge industrial space with worn wooden floors and massive windows looking out to the Androscoggin River. Tucked between Cabot Mill Antiques and the weekends-only Flea Market, the Brunswick Winter Market is also – for those three and half hours – the undeniable center of this Maine community.
Winter in Maine can be a long haul. The snow and dark early nights can get to you after a while. Which is what makes the Brunswick Winter Market so special.
It doesn’t feel like sleepy Winter in this bustling room.
There’s always something growing in Maine…
The Winter Market is a great reminder that no matter how cold and snowy it is outside – no matter how early darkness sets in – there’s always something growing in Maine.
Something being fermented.
This is a farmers market with all the colorful potatoes, cabbages and parsnips you could want – along with freshly baked bread and hand-made cheeses and sausages. But they also have locally made ceramics and naturally dyed yarns and homespun wools. There are traditional baked goods from Afghanistan (delicious!). Fresh oysters and tender baby greens. Foraged and cultivated mushrooms. There are rows of pickled pastel veggies and lots of steaming Moses Dyer Coffee (it’s free – with donations accepted). There’s also live music – usually something lively involving a fiddle or a banjo.
The huge space is strictly “vendors only” until 9 am sharp – and as soon as the doors open the market is flooded by locals with their canvas shopping bags.
The music starts first thing and the room is buzzing from the moment the doors open. My favorite routine is to start by grabbing a cup of Storm King from Moses Dyer Coffee. They roast their coffee just down the road from The Gills Group is Harpswell, and I go through a LOT of their beans.
Then it’s off to the bakeries. There’s always a line first thing because they usually sell out – and who doesn’t love freshly baked bread in Winter? Both Hootenanny and Zu have amazing loaves and delicious pastries.
The vendors here (like most at farmers market everywhere) are happy to talk about their goods. How they make their Maple Miso or hand-turned wooden tops. How a group of lobstermen spends their Winters growing baby greens indoors in a hothouse. What goes into making a wheel of paprika rubbed ricotta.
That’s the real magic of this place.
The stories of the growers and makers who all seem to love what they do so much. Yes, the produce and products are lust-worthy. But the story about that gnarled little celery root (and how to cook it) or those vibrant pickled radishes is just as great.
The Flea Market…
The Fort Andross Mill also houses the weekends-only Brunswick Flea Market. If this is even a little bit your thing, this is NOT to be missed. Some stalls are a jumble of rusty tools and farm oddities, others are jam-packed full of collectible ceramics. Vinyl lovers could spend hours flipping through the hundreds of vintage records on offer. There’s even a room in the annex (yes, there’s a jam-packed annex!) devoted to mid-century modern furniture and lighting. It’s called Bagatelle and they have a great selection of pieces that they sell mostly online or on Instagram.
It’s definitely worth a lap or two and is full of treasures for those willing to spend the time searching.
I don’t think I’ve EVER left the flea market empty-handed. ALL of The Gills Group cottages have something (or lots of somethings) found here.
Cabot Mill Antiques is also located in the mill – and though it’s not quite as rough around the edges as the Flea Market, it’s massive (16,000 square feet) with over 160 vendors. From collectibles to folk art to rustic furniture – whatever it is you love – chances are you’ll find it here. If you love treasure hunting for antiques check out my DATTRIPPING: antiques post.
On the other side of the Mill is Frontier Cafe & Cinema. This local favorite just gets better and better. Inspired by the crossroads “where stories, ideas, and culture interact in a rich and dynamic environment” Frontier feels like the center of town (to me) the rest of the week when the Farmers Market isn’t open.
They have a great bar and a menu full of internationally inspired dishes using fresh local ingredients. Reservations aren’t necessary but recommended if you’re visiting during peak dinner time (6 pm in Maine). There’s also a brand new coffee bar and event space next to the main dining room.
The cinema plays a great selection of indie films and documentaries you won’t see anywhere else. There’s also a full schedule of live music and events. If you’re in this part of Maine – a stop by Frontier is a must in my opinion.
Saturday mornings from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm / Fort Andross Mill Complex – 14 Main Street, Brunswick, Maine 04011
November through April
Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Open Tuesday to Thursday 11:00 am to 9:00 pm
Friday and Saturday 11:00 am to 10:00 pm
Sunday 11:00 am to 9:00 pm
My collection of oceanfront rental cottages on Bailey Island. A great home base for exploring the coast.