Four Waldo County farms are among 85 across the state that will be welcoming the public Sunday, July 26, for Maine Open Farm Day. Now in its 26th year, Open Farm Day connects consumers with the men and women who produce their food and agricultural products.

“This is an exciting time for Maine-made products and Maine agriculture," Gov. Paul LePage said. "The number of Maine farms is on the rise and so is the market value of our agricultural products.

"Since the last Census of Agriculture, the market value of Maine’s agricultural products has increased 24 percent. At a time when the number of farms in the United States is declining, the number of Maine farms has increased to 8,174, up from 7,196 in 2002," LePage said. "This growth coincides with renewed consumer interest in locally grown foods.”

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb urged families to “take advantage of this day to connect to life on the farm.”

“There is a story, even a lesson that surrounds all the food and other farm products that we grow right here in Maine,” Whitcomb said. “While traveling to Maine farms on Open Farm Day, people will drive by hay fields, potato and grain fields, farm wood lots, orchards and large vegetable patches, all growing crops that feed the economy before they fill dinner plates or supply other products that are important to our lives.”

In Waldo County,Toddy Pond Farm, a diversified dairy operation owned by Heide and Greg Purinton-Brown, will offer tours and talks on rotational grazing, feeding fodder, raising American Guinea hogs, mixed grazing of sheep and dairy cows, and beekeeping.

Visitors will be able to walk around the farm at 174 Carver Road, Monroe, seeing their cows, sheep, pigs and chickens, as well as the apiary.

The owners plan to grill some of their pastured pork and lamb sausages for sale during the day, as well as offering frozen meats, dairy products and honey from their farm store.

Paul Gallione and Rachel Brewster raise vegetables on their Moosehead Trail Farm, where they've been growing food for the community since 1998. They will offer crop walks and farm tours of their farm at 605 Moosehead Trail (Route 7) in Waldo.

Their farm employs sustainable agricultural practices, including crop rotation, cover cropping and integrated pest management techniques in traditional and hydroponic growing methods.

Ellie's Daylilies, owned by Ellie and Bruce Richardson, will showcase the 600 varieties of hybrid daylilies they grow on their farm at 277 Bangor Road (Routes 202 and 9), Unity.

They plan to demonstrate digging, dividing and planting and will give free plants to participants. They will have handouts, snacks and beverages, and the farm has shelter from sun and rain.

Northern Solstice Alpaca Farm, owned by Robin Fowler and Corry Pratt, will offer tours and the chance to see their animals up close, including their newest crias (babies). The farm is situated across from MOFGA at 141 Crosby Brook Road, also in Unity. Signs will direct drivers from Route 220.

Visitors can have their pictures taken with the alpacas and use the farm's educational tour boards to take self-guided tours. The Pratts' Fibers of Unity shop also will be open.

For more information and details on participating farms, visit getrealmaine.com.