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Our Impact = Your 2021 Support in Action.

In the face of climate change, development fueled by the pandemic, market pressures, and a wave of farmers retiring, our work to protect farmland and support farmers is more important than ever. Despite the many challenges, we know that Maine has a unique opportunity to grow a thriving food and farm system that can feed all of us sustainably, equitably, and healthfully. Let’s keep growing! Make your year-end gift today.

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2,668

acres of farmland expected to be protected by the end of 2021, from Arundel to Fairfield to Woodland.

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$1.3M

directly into the hands of farmers so far this year, through purchased easements and business grants.

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361

new customers who shopped with Farm Fresh Rewards to date this year, helping to add over $145K to the local food economy.

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350+

farmers who engaged in our policy work for 2021, advocating for state and federal policies and programs that work for Maine farms.

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275+

farms visited by MFT stewardship staff in 2021 across the state.

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10

projects linking farmland with new farm owners.

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8

protected farms participating in the first cohort of our Maine Soil Health Network.

Beyond the numbers. In 2021, your support helped us:

Protect farmland throughout the state: In 2021, we worked with over 20 farmers to protect an anticipated 2,668 acres of farmland. One of those farmers was Laura Neale of Black Kettle Farm in Lyman. As a farmer in Maine’s most densely-developed region, Laura says, “I have a greater sense of agency as a small-scale vegetable producer and landowner by ensuring that this farm will remain a protected and vibrant space for generations to come. Collaborating with MFT was a great reminder of the necessity of working farmland and open spaces in our communities and has inspired me to be an even stronger advocate for conservation.” (back to top)

Laura Neale of Black Kettle Farm.

So far we’ve protected over 20 farms across the state in 2021. That’s more than 2,000 acres of forever farmland.

Bolster farm businesses: We distributed $1.3 million directly to farmers so far this year through purchased easements and business plan implementation grants and worked with 15 farms through our individualized farm business planning programs. Annie Watson and Mike Moody were among the four business owners to be awarded one of our 2021 implementation grants. Farmers that complete our rigorous Farming for Wholesale business planning program are eligible to apply for these competitive grants of $50K to kickstart new business plans. Annie and Mike will use the grant to retrofit the milking systems on their organic dairy farm and said, “The workshops and technical assistance were helpful in writing a business plan we felt proud of and are excited to implement.” (back to top)

We worked with farm businesses across the state, providing resources like grants and one-on-one business planning support that help farmers reach their business goals and help grow Maine’s local food economy.

Annie Watson (right) and Mike Moody of Sheepscot Valley Farm, an organic dairy farm in Whitefield.

Grow access to local food: 361 new customers shopped with Farm Fresh Rewards to date this year at 18 participating stores, helping to add over $145K to the local food economy and making fresh local food accessible to more Mainers. KayLee Pettegrow, owner of participating store Machias Marketplace, says “I believe Farm Fresh Rewards has helped us to grow as a business. The program has brought many new customers to our store and it has kept them coming back which in turn has helped the Marketplace succeed.” (back to top)

MMP Veg

Beautiful Farm Fresh Rewards-eligible veggies in action at Machias Marketplace in Machias.

18 stores participate in the Farm Fresh Rewards program across the state, helping to make fresh Maine food accessible to more Mainers.

Advocate for farm-friendly policies at all levels: Over 350 farmers engaged in our policy efforts in 2021, advocating for state and federal policies and programs that work for Maine farms. We submitted farmer sign-on letters, testified on behalf of Maine’s farming community joined a stakeholder group to recommend ways that solar and agriculture can co-exist, and worked directly with legislators. These efforts resulted in funding for Land for Maine’s Future, a newly established Maine Healthy Soils Program, and a new fund to support programs like Farm Fresh Rewards. (back to top)

janet mills healthy soils program

Governor Janet Mills (center, seated) signing the Maine Healthy Soils Program bill into law in early June, surrounded by farm advocates including MFT’s Policy & Research Director Ellen Griswold (third from right).

blueberry solar

We’re part of the Agricultural Solar Stakeholder Group to make policy recommendations to balance the need to protect Maine’s current and future farmland against the need to develop sources of renewable solar energy. 

Steward farmland in every county: Our land stewards visited over 275 farms across the state this year as part of our ongoing commitment to the land and the farmers that steward it.  (back to top)

 

Get farmers on the land: Ten of our farmland protection projects this year helped to create farmland access for new farmers, like Katie Gualtieri and Haden Gooch of Mayday Farm in Leeds. We purchased Sander-Lou Farm in 2020 to protect the property in line with the former owners’ wishes, and re-sold it to new farmers. Katie and Haden Gooch applied to purchase the property and renamed it Mayday Farm when they closed on the farm in May. They’re now reviving the property, raising pastured broilers for a local butcher and reinstating the dairy barns, milking a herd of 40 or so cows and sending organic milk to Stonyfield. (back to top)

Katie Gualtieri and Haden Gooch, the owners of Mayday Farm.

By linking new farmers with farmland, we are securing a future for farming across the state.

Steward the soil: This year we launched the Maine Soil Health Network, a new way for MFT to support, inform and incentivize farmers learning about soil health practices that steward and improve their farm for the future. Andrew Ketch worked with MFT to protect his farmland in 2018, and in 2021 he was one of eight farmers to join the first cohort of the Maine Soil Health Network.  Andrew says, I was interested in this soil study because I’ve always had a deep interest in soil structure and soil health. I’m a firm believer of ‘feed the soil, not the plant.’ With this study I hope to develop a system to incorporate my sheep into my large-scale hay operation.” (back to top)

Andrew Ketch of Ketch Farms in Woodland.

The eight farms participating in the Maine Soil Health Network are located across the state. All eight have worked with MFT to protect their land with a conservation easement. The farms are diverse in scale and in what they grow.

Let’s invest in the farmland and farmers that feed all of us.

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