Tag Archives: Maine agriculture

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!

New Member Month!

July is new member month! This year we hope to welcome 100 new members during the month of July. But since July is a busy month for all of us, we’re doing things a little differently this year, and will have a special 1 day push on Thursday, July 19 to sign up as many new members as possible.

 

Help us get to 100! If you know folks who support MFT’s work but are not yet members, ask them to #PitchInForMaineFarms and join our community.

Who are our members?  Our members are farmers, eaters, conservationists, advocates, policymakers, artists, community-builders, foodies, and people like you, who care about Maine’s future.  It’s through your support that we are able to protect vulnerable farmland and help the next generation of farmers get on the land and thrive.

Why now?  Our farms brighten our landscapes, fuel our rural economies and nourish our communities, but development pressure puts Maine’s farmland, and with it our farmers, at risk.  Over 400,000 acres (nearly ⅓) of Maine’s farmland will change hands this decade as farmland owners age and retire. We need to ensure this land stays in farming, and that farmers can continue to feed our communities for generations to come.

In Appreciation: If you join as a member before July 20th we’ll enter  you into a raffle to win sweet MFT swag. Better yet, if you join as a new member and get a friend to join at the $30 level or higher, and you’ll both receive a hat or a tote (your choice!).

Already a member?  THANK YOU! Here are some other ways to help us grow:

  • Refer a friend to join MFT:  Spread the word to your non-member pals and we’ll hook you up with an event ticket or MFT swag (just make sure your friend indicates on our donation page that you referred them!)
  • Host a Food for Thought potluck or film night. We will set you up with the tools and support you need to have a house party and conversation about the future of farming.  You invite your friends, we’ll be there to talk with you and share what’s happening in farming and food today.

The work we do is only made possible by a robust & growing community of members.  When you and your friends #PitchInForMaineFarms, we can continue our work of protecting Maine’s farmland and revitalizing our rural landscapes & communities.  

Let's grow a bright future for farming in Maine, together.

Maine Fare: Finale Feast, Tasting & Storytelling

The  Finale Feast will begin with a casual tasting of small plates that reflect the traditional foodways of Western Maine, using ingredients from local producers and prepared by some of Maine’s finest chefs. Each plate will be paired with a beverage (wine, beer, or hard cider- for those 21 & up). 

After filling our bellies, we’ll move to the Stoneheart Farm lamb barn (lambs included!) to hear food-focused stories told live by a lineup of local friends. 

Meet the chefs:

Corey Dilts, chef at Norway Brewing Company, will be creating egg yolk raviolo, served with Tourmaline Hill Ricotta, six month dry cured Leg of Lamb from Wrinkle in Thyme Farm, maple chive cured duck egg yolk from his own farm, and a beet chive reduction.

Ian Desjardins, a chef from the Penobscot Nation, will be creating a sample plate of fiddleheads, Passamaquoddy maple syrup, cornbread, and smoked Micmac trout.

Shawn Stemp, chef at Ondine Oyster + Wine Bar and Black Trumpet, will be serving wood-fired oysters and accompaniments.

Frank Giglio, chef at Three Lily Provisions cooking school, will be creating a lamb and mushroom ragu, served over acorn polenta.

 

Meet the storytellers:

Lee Dassler. Lee has a background in theater, carpentry and architecture and is the executive director of Western Foothills Land Trust.

Scott Vlaun. Scott is a photographer, homesteader, permaculture designer, dad and the executive director at Center for an Ecology-Based Economy.

Mary Anne Haxton and Marty Elkin. Mary Anne and Marty own A Wrinkle in Thyme Farm in Sumner where they raise sheep and host fiber workshops.

Bonnie Pooley. Bonnie taught at Gould Academy for 35 years, and is actively involved in local conservation and food initiatives, such as Mahoosuc Land Trust and the Alan Day Community Garden.

+ Storytelling will be emceed by MFT’s own Chris Franklin, our farmland protection project manager working in Western Maine!

 

MFT members receive 10% discount on tickets.

Not a member? Join today and receive 10% off your ticket!

Check out the other Maine Fare events happening throughout the month!

Maine Fare: Farmstead Cheesemaking

Gloria Varney at Nezinscot Farm will host a hands-on class that allows students the opportunity to gain skills and understanding of both soft and semi-hard cheeses. We’ll finish the process of making a dry-curd cottage cheese, a versatile cheese that can be eaten fresh or pressed to create a farmers-style cheese. Participants will also prepare goat’s milk  to make a chevre and brie (or camembert). Everyone will leave with a sampling of cheeses to take home.

 ***THIS EVENT IS SOLD OUT***

MFT members receive 10% discount on tickets.

Not a member? Join today and receive 10% off your ticket!

Check out the other Maine Fare events happening throughout the month!

Maine Fare: Indigenous Foodways

Karyn Marden (Abenaki descent), Ann Pollard-Ranco (Penobscot and Abenaki) and Alivia Moore (Penobscot) of Gedakina will give an overview of the history of indigenous food systems in Western Maine. The presentation will cover indigenous food system recovery work happening in different parts of the state, including a women-led recovery of traditional agriculture in Starks, and wild rice recovery projects. The presenters will also give an overview of other tribal food systems work happening in Maine and introduce some of the Wabanaki food businesses. Guests will have the opportunity to sample some foods from the tribal community, including a wild rice salad with squash and cranberries, and traditional cornbread. 

MFT members receive 10% discount on tickets.

TICKETS WILL BE AVAILABLE AT THE DOOR. ONLINE TICKET SALES NOW CLOSED. CALL MFT OFFICE FOR QUESTIONS 207.338.6575

Not a member? Join today and receive 10% off your ticket!

Trouble buying your ticket or prefer to do it over the phone? Please call the MFT office (207.338.6575) and ask for Rachel Keidan, or email at rkeidan@mainefarmlandtrust.org

Check out the other Maine Fare events happening throughout the month!

The 2018 Farm Bill is Rejected in the House

On Friday, May 18, 2018, a draft of the farm bill was rejected on the floor of the House of Representatives by a vote of 198-213, with all Democrats and 30 Republicans voting against it. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and others are trying to obtain enough votes to bring the bill back to the House floor for another vote on June 22nd. Doing so would require reaching a deal with either moderate Republicans or the House Freedom Caucus. These negotiations will involve not only issues related to the farm bill, but also an immigration bill that House Freedom Caucus members are demanding a vote on before consideration of the farm bill. Others are advocating for House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) to restart the process in the House Agriculture Committee, working with Democrats on the Committee this time to produce a bipartisan farm bill that has enough support for passage.

 

MFT believes the best path forward is for the House Agriculture Committee to restart the Committee process and produce a bipartisan farm bill that does not contain some of the devastating cuts to working lands conservation programs and business development programs that support Maine farmers in their efforts to be good stewards of their land and to grow their businesses. Although the draft farm bill contains some important funding increases for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) and the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives Program (FINI), it also contains some provisions that are very problematic for Maine farmers. These provisions include:

 

  • Decreased funding for working lands conservation programs by nearly $5 billion over 10 years, including eliminating the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP);
  • Allowing 100% forested lands to be eligible for ACEP, thereby decreasing the easement funding available for working farms;
  • No mandatory funding for the Food Safety Outreach Program (FSOP), the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP), and the Value-Added Producer Grant Program (VAPG), all of which are important to the business development of Maine farmers; and
  • Elimination of the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP).

 

More information on the specifics of the House farm bill can be found HERE.

 

The Senate Agriculture Committee is continuing to work on a bipartisan basis to produce its version of the 2018 farm bill. Although the specific timeline is not clear, the Committee will likely release its bill in the coming weeks. The current farm bill expires on September 30, 2018. If a 2018 bill is not passed by both the House and Senate by September, a bill to extend the current farm bill for some period of time will need to be passed in order for all programs included in the last farm bill to continue to be funded in the interim before the next one is passed.

 

Let's grow a bright future for farming in Maine, together.

Four farm businesses receive $50K grants from MFT to scale-up to new markets

Kathi Langelier of Herbal Revolution (left) and Kelsey Herrington of Two Farmers Farm (right, photo by Greta Rybus)

MFT has awarded grants to four farms of approximately $50,000 to implement changes in order to scale up their businesses. The farms participated in the 201 track of MFT’s Farming for Wholesale program and spent two years working with business advisors to research and define business plans focused on scaling up for wholesale markets. These implementation grants are competitive and applications undergo an extensive review process by a committee comprised of MFT staff and industry consultants.

The 2018 crop of grantees, all of who received around $50,000, include Tide Mill Creamery in Edmunds, Two Farmers Farm in Scarborough, Herbal Revolution in Union, and Broadturn Farm in Scarborough. The farms will use the grant funds to scale-up infrastructure, equipment, and expand marketing efforts.

Rachel Bell and Nate Horton of Tide Mill Creamery constructed new housing for their herd and made improvements to their pastures, and installed a 100-gallon vat pasteurizer, which will allow them to sell cheese across state lines. Kelsey Herrington and Dominic Pascarelli, of Two Farmers Farm, will implement a new business plan to sell more vegetables in mainstream markets while maintaining a high level of product quality, and quality of life. Kathi Langelier, of Herbal Revolution, created a plan that scales production to meet national demand for her herbal line. She will also invest in the business’ brand, and create new jobs in farm operations, sales, marketing, and production management. Farmers John Bliss and Stacy Brenner of Broadturn Farm are using the funds to cultivate their brand and marketing to create new opportunities within the floral industry. This includes infrastructure that will help them pave the way for the burgeoning local flower market.

This is the second year MFT has offered implementation grants for farms that completed the 201 Farming For Wholesale program. “Access to financing to implement new changes and ideas continues to be a challenge,” said Alex Fouliard, Farming for Wholesale program manager. “MFT is pleased to be able to fill that need and keep momentum moving forward for these farms.”

Let's grow a bright future for farming in Maine, together.

Healthy Soils, Healthy Farms: farm tour & policy update

Tour Stonyvale Farm  with farmer Bob Fogler and Ellen Mallory of UMaine Cooperative Extension to learn how farmers are building healthy soils that benefit both the climate and farm profitability.

Hear from MFT & Maine Conservation Voters about policy initiatives that can foster healthy soils practices on farms, and how you can help shape policies that are good for farms and good for the environment.

Free & Open to All. Dress for a farm tour (sensible footwear, layers).

 

Please RSVP to ellen@mainefarmlandtrust.org by May 9.

Maine Fare 2018 heads for Maine’s Western Foothills

Maine Fare is a month-long series of hands-on field trips and workshops throughout the month of June, culminating into a unique finale feast on June 30th.

Formerly a food festival that drew thousands of local food lovers to Belfast, MFT has re-imagined this popular event to provide more in-depth food experiences that highlight different regions throughout our state. This June, organizers have planned five events throughout the month in Maine’s western foothills region on various topics central to Maine’s food landscape. The 2018 workshops will cover topics that reflect the region’s unique food culture. Workshops include: indigenous foodways with GEDAKINA, mushroom foraging and cultivation, farmstead cheesemaking and lamb butchery.

“Western Maine’s historic and current food system is defined by the geography and landscape– the woods, freshwater lakes and streams, and hillside pastures well-suited to sheep and other livestock,” says Meg Quinn, event manager at MFT.

All workshops and the finale feast are individually ticketed, and tickets will be available April 30 on mainefarmlandtrust.org. MFT members receive a 10% discount on all tickets!

click on the dates to purchase tickets!

Workshops Include:

 

June 3rd: Indigenous Foodways

The presentation will cover indigenous food system recovery work happening in different parts of the state and offer the opportunity to sample foods from the tribal community.

 

June 10th: Foraging and Growing Mushrooms

This workshop will focus on the basics of the mushroom life cycle, production, and different types of fungi- specifically oyster and shitake mushrooms.

 

June 17th: Farmstead Cheesemaking

Nezinscot Farm will host a hands-on class that allows students the opportunity to gain skills and understanding of both soft and semi-hard cheeses.

 

June 24th: Whole Lamb Butchery

Students will learn from and work with a butcher from Rosemont Market & Bakery to breakdown and butcher a lamb from Stoneheart Farm.

 

June 30th: Finale Feast

The event will feature a casual tasting of small plates prepared by some of Maine’s finest chefs, paired with local beer, wine and cider. This will be followed by storytelling in the lamb barn.

Not a member? Join today and receive 10% off your ticket!