As chard seedlings grow in the gallery window and farmers prepare to plant their crops, Maine Farmland Trust will kick off the spring with a new exhibit titled “Hands in the Soil.” It will open Friday, April 23 with a public reception from 5 to 8 p.m. at Maine Farmland Trust Gallery, 97 Main St.

“Hands in the Soil” tells the story of resilience, endurance and shared vision of two generations of farmers farming sustainably in Maine as related by the work of two local photographers, Dina Petrillo of Thorndike and Lily Piel of Hope.

Petrillo’s images, formerly shown between 2003 and 2005 as part of an exhibit titled “Farms and Friends,” focus on four farmers in Waldo County who started farming in the 1970s and have never stopped. Their commitment to sustainability has been an inspiration to a next generation of farmers, captured in Piel’s images.

Petrillo said what she thinks the resilience of her subjects is in large part due to their ability to handle flux and evolve over time.

“In the face of the new challenges presented by the land, and the ever-shifting landscape of political, social and economic pressures, it is their profoundly intimate connections with this work, these places, plants, creatures and people that makes it all possible,” she said.

Piel photographs small farms in Maine to tell their story and because she is deeply inspired by the simple fact that eating food grown on farms in our communities has real power to make a more just world.

“I selected these photographs because they reflect intimacy. Sustainable agriculture is in part about this – proximity and connection. Not just between farmer and consumer, but also between the farmers and the land, the vegetables they grow and the animals they raise. These are the gestures I want to capture,” she said.

“Hands in the Soil” will run until June 1. The gallery, which celebrates agriculture through art, is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Maine Farmland Trust is a statewide nonprofit organization working to protect Maine’s precious farmland resources. Since its founding in 1999, MFT has helped preserve more than 17,000 acres of farmland. MFT’s goal is not just to save farmland, but also to keep agricultural lands working and to help make Maine farming more vital and viable.

For more information on MFT’s programs, visit mainefarmlandtrust.org.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to dernest@villagesoup.com.