Category Archives: Latest MFT News

2019 T-Shirt Design Contest

Calling all creatives! Enter the 20th Anniversary MFT t-shirt design contest for a chance to have your artwork selected to grace the front of our t-shirts this summer!

 

The tagline for this year’s t-shirt is: Farms Feed ME

 

Submissions must be of professional quality and must be the original work of the entrant. Any other work, including but not limited to work copied from magazines, artwork by another artist, photos not taken by the artist, or work that incorporates elements that are not the original work of the Artist will not be considered original. Designs may be hand-drawn or computer-designed, but “clip art” is not allowed. Hand-drawn artwork must be scanned in and converted into a PDF file; no photographs of original artwork will be accepted. Artwork must be emailed either as a PDF or JPG and must be a minimum of 300dpi.

The artist of the selected design will assign to MFT perpetual and exclusive rights to the use of the design in all forms and formats. MFT may reproduce in any fashion, including multimedia and electronic imaging, all or any portion of the design, and distribute for profit any reproductions of the design on clothing, merchandise and goods, including, but not limited to tshirts, sweatshirts, bags, hats. Upon submission each artist will warrant the right to convey all of these rights to MFT and agree to indemnify MFT against any claims arising out of the artist’s breach of this warranty, including reasonable attorney fees.

To Enter:

Complete the form below and submit your file by April 1. Questions? Contact Rachel rkeidan@mainefarmlandtrust.org.

  • Drop files here or
    Accepted file types: jpg, gif, png, pdf.

MFT opens search for next President and CEO

Amanda Beal, MFT’s former president and CEO, was officially sworn in as commissioner of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) today. All of us at MFT are sad to see Amanda leave, but know that her collaborative approach to leadership and management will serve the state well, and we’re excited to continue working with her in her new post at DACF.

MFT is now seeking a new president and CEO to lead this innovative, collaborative, and highly successful land trust with a broad mission to protect farmland, support farmers, and advance the future for farming. The new president will step into an organization with 6,800 members, 37 employees, solid programming and a strong financial position. Learn more about the position and application process here. Applications are due on March 19th.

While we search for our next president, Kristin Varnum, CFO and VP of Admin and Finance, and Erica Buswell, VP of Programs, will be stepping in to serve as interim co-presidents for the organization and staff will continue to move forward on all projects and programs.

Amanda-Beal-MFT-2

Amanda Beal nominated to lead Maine’s Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry

Amanda Beal, MFT’s President and CEO, was recently nominated for the position of Maine’s Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and has accepted the governor’s nomination.

MFT staff and board are sad to see Amanda leave, but we know her thoughtful, collaborative leadership and deep familiarity with the agricultural landscape will serve Maine well in this role. Amanda has an acute awareness of the interconnectedness of agriculture, conservation, and forestry and a deep appreciation for how policy can bolster the good work that Maine’s hardworking farmers, foresters and conservation organizations are doing on the ground throughout the state.

“I have loved working with MFT, which made this a tough decision,” said Amanda, “MFT’s work is truly impactful, but ultimately I feel that it’s important to accept this call to serve Maine in this role, and to do all that I can to support a vibrant future for all of our farmers and farmland.”

Under Amanda’s leadership, MFT has made many improvements to the organization’s programs and internal systems. Amanda took the helm at a time when the 20-year-old organization was going through major growth and transition and has worked collaboratively with staff to create stability and sustainability.

MFT has an active transition plan in place, and the board and staff will begin a search for our next President and CEO in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, MFT’s work to protect farmland, support farmers, and advance the future for farming will continue as usual. As we enter our 20th year, we feel excited and confident that the work we’re doing to support a bright future for farming in Maine is on the right track and having a substantial impact now, and for future generations.

Read more about Amanda’s nomination:

Maine Public: Mills Chooses Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Department

Bangor Daily News: Mills makes Maine Farmland Trust leader her final Cabinet pick

Portland Press Herald: Mills taps head of farmland preservation group as agricultural commissioner

 

 

A very special new year: 2019 is our 20th!

In 1999, a small group of farmers and farm advocates planted the seed of an idea: farmland matters, and should be protected. Word spread, meetings were held with like minds, and soon, MFT began as the first and only land trust in the state focused on protecting farmland and supporting farmers. Thanks to the pioneering vision of our founders, the hard work of volunteers and staff, and the support of members, that seed took root and grew! 

This year, we’ll celebrate 20 years of growing the future for farming by reflecting on our milestones over the years, acknowledging the many people who have helped shape MFT, and by looking ahead to the next chapter. We’ll share stories of farmers and members, host some really fun events, organize a listening tour, and more. Most importantly, we want to create opportunities for you to be involved in shaping the next 20 years and beyond.

Together, we can have a lasting and positive impact on the future for farming in Maine.

Visit our anniversary website to keep up on all things 20th, and stay tuned for details about happenings. Be sure to join us for our Kick Off Party in Belfast on January 24th!

Notes from the regional meeting for New England nutrition incentives

In December, Shannon, Abby, and Catherine — the Farm Viability staff who support our Farm Fresh Rewards nutrition incentive program– embarked on an early morning car ride down to Pawtucket, Rhode Island to meet with new regional collaborators.

Last year, MFT worked with Farm Fresh Rhode Island to submit a joint application to the USDA for a Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant to support MFT’s nutrition incentive program, Farm Fresh Rewards. The successful proposal is now also partially funding other nutrition incentive programs in Maine, as well as programs in Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. All these nutrition incentive programs focus on increasing sales for farmers by providing extra money for low-income shoppers using SNPA/EBT to spend on locally-grown fruits and vegetables, thereby supporting community food systems. The various programs are working with a diverse array of outlets— from farm stands and CSAs, to farmers’ markets, mobile markets, and local grocery stores.

Our trip this month was the first meeting of this regional group and gave us an opportunity to share successes, challenges, and dreams for the next few years of our respective programs. The energy in the room coalesced around how we can maximize our impact by learning from each other, and we were excited to think through how to continue our collaborative communication moving forward. We all recognize the benefit of working together as a region since New England states have similar food systems and related challenges. In fact, part of the reason that Farm Fresh Rhode Island chose to take on such a large, regional collaboration, was through their commitment to the New England Food Vision, and the desire to help build a resilient system that can feed our entire region. If lunch at the meeting is any indication– catered by Farm Fresh Rhode Island’s Harvest Kitchen and full of fresh, local foods– we’re off to a good start.

From the beginning, our Farm Fresh Rewards program has been informed by regional collaboration, through funding opportunities like  Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare Foundation’s “Healthy Food Fund,” and Wholesome Wave’s “National Nutrition Incentive Network,” both of which brought together food access organizations from around New England. Engaging with other groups in the region that do similar work has kept us motivated, energized, and full of new ideas, and we’re excited to continue that process!

You can support our work to increase access to local food through the Farm Fresh Rewards by making a donation to MFT today!

Listen to some stories from the field

No matter how many seasons they have been with their soil, farmers develop a strong connection with their land. For each farmer, this relationship is unique and therefore, manifests differently into the food we eat and the communities we live in. MFT hosted three storytellers for live event at the Maine Historical Society to explore these relationships. The yearlong exhibitions, Maine Eats: The Food Revolution Starts Here, was also open for viewing that evening.

 

Listen to the stories from the field below:

 

MFT’s Fiore Art Center Announces 2019 Residencies & Jury Panel

Applications for the 2019 residencies at MFT’s Joseph A. Fiore Art Center opened in early December and will close March 1st, 2019. This summer the Center will offer six visual art residencies: four for Maine artists, one of which is reserved for a Native American artist; one for an out-of-state artist, and one for an international artist. In addition, the Center will offer one performance/interdisciplinary arts residency and one literary arts residency for Maine applicants, as well as a new academic writing residency open to applicants from New England.

These are one-month residencies that will take place in July, August and September. Artist applicants are selected based on the quality of their work samples, their artist statement, and demonstration that their work has a relevant connection to the environment at large, or rural Maine and agriculture specifically.

Applicants to the new academic writing residency should be in the writing stages of an academic paper or dissertation focusing on subject matter related to MFT’s mission (e.g. farmland protection, access, and transfer; farm viability; food systems; agroecology; soil health; climate change and agriculture).

The Fiore Art Center also offers a 5-month seasonal position for a resident gardener with an affinity for the arts.

This will be the fourth summer that the Fiore Art Center has offered a residency program. David Dewey and Anna Witholt Abaldo, Co-Directors at the Center, are excited to be working with yet another excellent jury panel. “Since the literary arts residency is focused on poetry this year, we pulled in renowned poet and arts writer Carl Little for his expertise in both the literary and visual arts,” explains Dewey. “We felt Sarah Workneh, with her depth of experience as Co-Director at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, would bring a great contemporary touch and round out the panel for the visual and interdisciplinary arts,” Witholt Abaldo added.

Sarah Workneh has been Co-Director at Skowhegan for nine years. She leads the educational program and related programs in New York throughout the year, and oversees facilities on campus. Previously, Sarah worked at Ox-Bow School of Art as Associate Director. She has served as a speaker in a wide variety of conferences and schools. Workneh has played an active role in the programmatic planning and vision of peer organizations, most recently with the African American Museum of Philadelphia. She is a member of the Somerset Cultural Planning Commission’s Advisory Council (ME) and serves on the board of the Colby College Museum of Art.

Carl Little is the author of more than 25 art books, including Paintings of Maine, The Art of Monhegan Island, and The Art of Maine in Winter. Little’s poetry has appeared in many print and online journals and is included in five anthologies edited by Wesley McNair, former Maine poet laureate. Poems have recently been featured in Maine Sunday Telegram’s “Deep Water” series and “Poems from Here” on Maine Public Radio, as well as in 3 Nations Anthology: Native, Canadian and New England Writers. Little holds degrees from Dartmouth College, Columbia University, and Middlebury College. He directed the public affairs office and the Blum Gallery at College of the Atlantic for eight years before becoming director of communications and marketing at the Maine Community Foundation in 2001.

The academic writing residency will be juried by Amanda Beal, President and CEO of MFT, and Andrew Marshall, MFT’s David and Cecile Wang Food & Farming Fellow. “We felt that our residency program at the Fiore Art Center provided a perfect opportunity to support academics working on important research for our farming community,” says Beal. “The richness of an interdisciplinary experience for both the academic resident and the artists in residence will further serve to integrate agriculture and art.”

Amanda Beal’s life-long interest in how we produce food began as a child. She grew up on her family’s commercial dairy farm in Maine, and spent time on the coast of Casco Bay, where she has fond memories of digging for dinner in the clam flats alongside her grandfather and warming the bench of his smelt shanty in the winter. Before joining MFT, Beal worked for several years as a consultant on food systems-related projects for a number of fisheries, agriculture, and other food-focused organizations and businesses, and was a co-author of the publication: “A New England Food Vision: Healthy Food for All, Sustainable Farming and Fishing, Thriving Communities.” She holds an M.S. from Tufts University, having completed the Agriculture, Food & Environment program at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of New Hampshire in the Natural Resources and Earth Systems Science program.

Andrew Marshall is the 2018-2019 Wang Research and Policy Fellow at MFT, focusing on land use change, farmland reclamation, and climate issues. He has been ensconced in the Maine agricultural community for 15 years, serving as Education Director for the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and Field Director for Land For Good. Andrew also operates Dorolenna Farm and Forest in Montville with his family. He holds degrees from Bowdoin College and the University of California.

Those interested can find more information on application details, summer visitor hours and Open Studio Days here.

In Buxton, an iconic local farm will be a farm forever

Buxton. Snell Family Farm has long been a local institution in the town of Buxton. Now, the farm will remain a farm for generations to come, thanks to the Snell family’s decision to protect the farm with conservation easements through MFT.

Snell Farm is a highly productive diversified farming operation located on both sides of River Road in Buxton. John, Ramona and daughter Carolyn grow produce, herbs, flowers, bedding plants, and fruit for their farm stand, a CSA, and several farmers markets. They also offer pick-your-own raspberries in the summer and apples in the fall. The Snell family is community oriented, and they love growing food and flowers for their long-standing customers.

“We are pleased to be able to contribute to the food and floral independence of our region,” said Ramona Snell.

“Maine Farmland Trust is excited to protect such a thriving farm,” said Charlie Baldwin, a farmland protection project manager at MFT. “Farms like these are a huge asset to the community, and we want to make sure that they remain so far into the future, especially in areas like Buxton with high development pressure.”

MFT has worked with farmers across the state to protect over 60,000 acres of farmland.

Help to protect more acres of farmland by giving HERE.

Many Wins for Maine Farmers in the 2018 Farm Bill

After several months of negotiations, the 2018 Farm Bill Conference Committee just released a final version of the bill that includes many of MFT’s priorities to better support farmers and farmland protection in Maine. Both the Senate (87-13) and the House ( 369 Y, 47 N, 17 NV) voted to pass the bill.

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Here is how MFT’s priorities for Maine farms fared in the final bill:

1. Maintain both the Senate and House farm bills’ increases in funding for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) to support the placement of agricultural easements in Maine that protect farmland and make land more affordable for the next generation of farmers.

  • Good: The final bill increases funding for ACEP to $450m/year.

2. Maintain the Senate farm bill’s increase in funding for the development of local and regional food economies through the establishment of the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP).

  • Good: the final bill combines the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP) and the Value-Added Producer Grant Program (VAPG) with a new public-private partnership provision, creating LAMP, and provides the program with $50 million per year in mandatory funding.
    • This funding includes $17.5 million per year in mandatory funding for VAPG, $23.5 million per year in mandatory funding for FMLFPP, and $5 million per year for the public-private partnership provision.

3. Maintain the Senate farm bill’s increase in funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), which provides competitive grants to academic institutions, state extension services, producer groups, and community organizations to support and train new farmers and ranchers.

4. Reduce funding cuts to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) so that farmers have the necessary support to address natural resources concerns on their property while keeping their land in production.

  • Mixed: the final bill increases funding for EQIP and CSP for the 5-year cycle of this farm bill (2019-2023), but includes major funding cuts for these working lands programs over the long term, particularly for CSP.

5. Maintain the Senate and House farm bills’ increase in funding for the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Program to increase access to local fresh fruits and vegetables for SNAP recipients, and expand markets for farmers.

  • Good: the final bill reauthorizes FINI and provides it with $250 million in funding over 5 years.

6. Maintain the Senate farm bill’s Buy-Protect-Sell provision so that lands trusts can act quickly using ACEP-ALE dollars to protect vulnerable farmland and then sell the land to a farmer.

  • Good: the final bill contains a Buy-Protect-Sell provision.

7. Maintain the Senate farm bill’s increase in funding for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), which supports research projects that address the most critical challenges facing organic farmers.

  • Good: the final bill increases OREI funding to $50 million per year in permanent baseline funding by 2023, providing a total of $395 million in funding over 10 years.

8. Maintain the Senate farm bill’s increases in funding levels for Farm Service Agency (FSA) direct and guaranteed loans.

  • Good: the final bill increases funding to $3 billion for FSA direct loans and $7 billion for FSA guaranteed loans for 2019-2023.

 

Many of these important provisions are taken from legislation that was sponsored by Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Maine Senator Susan Collins. We are very grateful to all of Maine’s congressional delegation for their efforts to create a farm bill that works for Maine agriculture, and to all of you who shared your voices with your delegates!

While much of this Farm Bill is a step in a positive direction, there are many challenges ahead. You can help shape the future for farming by making a gift to support our work in Maine! Give here.

Stewardship spotlight: Franklin County farms

By Caitlin Hopkins

During a recent annual monitoring visit to McLaughlin Farm in Wilton, I was joined by dairy farmer, Richard Corey who recently purchased and protected the farm in partnership with his wife, Michelle Mosher, and the neighboring landowners, Jan Collins and Irving Faunce. Richard has been actively using these hayfields and pasture for years to support his dairy operation. Since this easement is relatively new, it was the first time a stewardship staff person had been to this property. When stewardship staff visit farms for annual monitoring visits we come prepared with maps, a baseline document (which includes more maps and information about the property at the time the easement closed), a compass, and our smartphone- used to collect GPS points and photographs. Even with all of these tools at our disposal, talking with the farmer about any changes, future plans, or challenges on the farm always proves to be the most valuable resource.

Farmers know their land like the back of their hand, and will often let stewards in on the best views or a special place on the property. Richard took me up to the hayfield and when we turned from the tree line, we looked out over the expansive, protected “Forever Farm” and, to my surprise, southerly across to the hayfields on Spruce Mountain. Spruce Mountain is home to the 378-acre Thayben Farm and its matriarch, Nora Farrington. Nora and her late husband, Thayden, who recently passed at the beginning of this month, protected their farm in 2017 with an agricultural conservation easement held by MFT. I had been to Thayben Farm for the monitoring visit a couple of weeks prior to my visit with Richard and while chatting with Nora and Thayden had learned that the property was home to an old ski slope!

Standing on a Forever Farm and looking across the landscape, knowing that the neighboring property to the west, Wilton Blueberry Farm, and the mountainside hay fields of Thayben Farm to the south are all protected is similar to standing on a mountain summit and looking back at the ridge that you just hiked across. It is encouraging and exciting to recognize these productive and special places, and to see a network of protected farms growing across Franklin County.

Stewards make a commitment to the landowner that we will protect the conservation values of the property forever.

Show your SUPPORT for our stewards.