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 of Belfast Free Library, 106 High St.

“Growing Local” is an idea that began in the summer of 2007 while Smith-Mayo made blueberry muffins in her Blue Hill farm kitchen. She planned to enter the Blue Hill Fair Blueberry Muffin contest but wanted to enter more than the ordinary muffin. She came up with a muffin recipe that used only Maine ingredients, most of them sourced as close to her home as possible, and the idea for “Growing Local,” as well.

“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,” she said.

Her curiosity piqued, she began to wonder who in Brooklin made the maple syrup; grew and milled the wheat into flour in Aroostook; and made sea salt from way Down East? She mulled over the idea and expanded it further until she developed a documentary project about local food in Maine that also became the basis for her graduate thesis.

In this, the first “Growing Local” volume (a second to follow soon is of a Rhubarb Crumble recipe in Yorkshire, England), Smith-Mayo uses photography, text and multimedia. Part personal journey, part documentary endeavor, she combines her passion for cooking and local foods, adds in a heaping tablespoon of curiosity, folds in photography and yields “Growing Local.” The full project, which will include an enhanced e-book, DVD and more, will appear in the fall. For more information, visit

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email to