“Growing up on a farm in a small rural town in Kentucky, I was always very connected to the land and to the farmers who worked it,” says Nina Young. “Once I discovered the ocean, I became particularly fascinated with it—I studied it in college, working various jobs in marine biology and fresh water biology, and sailing its Pacific, Atlantic and Caribbean waters for many years.” But 10 years ago, Nina returned to her agriculture roots and started working at MFT. She still balances her connection to the land with her love of the ocean, and resides in Belfast, within sight of the sea. At MFT, Nina scouts for new farmland protection projects, but when she’s not working, she’s on the hunt for cool watering holes that have unusual, well-brewed beers on tap, and offer a place to connect with like-minded friends: “Beer gives us hope, and life is too short to drink bad beer.”
Q: What is your role at MFT?
A: I have two roles, at MFT and with Maine Farms Realty. I am the Lands Projects Prospecting Manager, which means I scout for new Purchased Easement
projects, Donated Easement
projects or Buy/Protect/Sell
projects. Once they become bona fide projects I hand them off to other lands staff for completion. This is a new position that began in 2016 as a result of our increased funding for land protection projects and my previous 9 years of doing lands projects statewide.
I am also the Designated Broker for Maine Farms Realty
—I manage all the real estate deals that come through MFT/MFR, where I act as the broker for MFT in both purchases and sales. Additionally, I can act as a buyers’ broker for farmers who need a real estate agent to assist them with buying a farm.
Q: Why do you work for MFT?
I saw John Piotti speak at a Friends of Mid-Coast Maine meeting in maybe 2005 or 2006, and told friends of mine at MCHT that if they ever saw an opportunity at MFT for me to let me know, because I wanted to work for John. That led to John interviewing me in 2006 for a position with FarmLink
, but instead of hiring me for that position, he wanted to hire me as the first lands projects staff member. He secured funding for that position in December 2006 and I came to work in January of 2007. John, Kristin, LouAnna, Sue and Esther (she’s retired now) were the sum total of employees at MFT back then.
Q: Biggest challenge you look forward to working on?
There are still a lot of people/farmers in Maine who have never heard of MFT, and who are looking for solutions to the looming question—what will I do with the farm? These are the landowners who lament, “I have to get off the farm and I want it to remain a farm, but how do I do that? The kids don’t want to farm and I don’t want it to become house lots or fields that are no longer worked.” The biggest challenge is to find those farmers and offer them the numerous options MFT uses as its tools for farmland protection.
Q: Projects or goals that you’re continuously excited about?
A: Connecting with farmers to offer them solutions to their generation transfer worries drives my work goals and satisfies my need and desire to work with the farmers who feed us.