Tag Archives: Unity

Workshop on Worm Bins

Wednesday, Sept. 6, Jock Robie from Mainely Worm Bins will be coming to Unity to lead a workshop on worm bins! He is an amazing wealth of knowledge on the topic of Vermiculture and how to care for your voracious red wigglers. He will be bringing all of the materials for ten worm bins to give away for FREE! Nine of those bins will go to the first nine participants to arrive and one will be held for a name-draw at the end.

 No need to bring anything more than yourself and possibly a notebook for taking notes. Snacks and juice will be available during the event. You can find more details below.

When: September 6, 6pm-8pm

Where: Volunteer Regional Food Pantry- 180 Depot St., Unity

What: How to build and care for a home worm bin!

What is a worm bin?!

A home or office worm bin is a fantastic way to make use of kitchen scraps, old newspaper, leaves, and many other materials within a worm’s diet. When properly cared for, the bins do not emit an odor and the worms stay put in their happy homes! After just a short time, typically 3-4 months, the nutrient rich worm castings can be harvested and added to your home garden or indoor plants.

Join us next Wednesday to learn more! Jock Robie has many useful answers and suggestions as well as a very clever and replicable worm bin design.

Empty Bowls for full plates

Unity Barn Raisers and Veggies For All present Empty Bowls 2017, a benefit for the Volunteer Regional Food Pantry and the Western Waldo County Gleaning Initiative.  Due to inclement weather the date has been changed from Tuesday, March 14,  to Wednesday March 15, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Maine Farmland Trust’s Unity Food Hub, 69 School St.

The public is invited to enjoy a simple soup dinner, take home a beautiful bowl and support hunger relief in the Unity area. Soups feature local ingredients sourced through the Unity Food Hub and are appropriate for a variety of dietary needs.  Suggested donation of $10.00.

This event is sponsored by UniTel and supported by potters from Unity Pond Pottery, Unity College art department and others around the state.

For more information or to make a donation, contact Mary Leaming of Unity Barn Raisers, at 948-9005 or programs@unitybarnraisers.org. The Volunteer Regional Food Pantry is a 501(c)(3) community-operated food pantry providing emergency and supplementary food and services to those at risk of hunger in the Unity, Maine area. The goal of the VRFP is to increase quality of life through a focus on food security.

Unity Barn Raisers works pro-actively to enhance small-town character and rural environment, while nurturing a thriving community-based economy. UBR believes that a community working together can shape its own future and, in so doing, significantly advance the quality of life of its people, both now and for generations to come.

Veggies For All, a project of Maine Farmland Trust, is a food bank farm that works to relieve hunger by growing vegetables for those in need, while collaborating with partners to distribute and increase access to quality and nutritious food.

Johnny’s & Unity Food Hub Seed to Table Variety Tasting

Unity Food Hub & Johnny’s Selected Seeds
Present
The First Annual
SEED TO TABLE VARIETY TASTING

To Purchase Tickets Click Here

Sunday September 25th / Open House 4-8pm
at Unity Food Hub / 69 School Street, Unity, Maine
Walking, biking, carpooling encouraged!

-Sample varieties and talk seeds with Johnny’s plant breeders
-Featuring specialty vegetables grown by Unity Food Hub farm partners
-Tastes prepared by Maine Chefs
-Local Brews, Cash Bar

 

*All proceeds to benefit the Maine Harvest Bucks program, which makes local food from Unity Food Hub’s Maine Farm Share program affordable to low-income Mainers.*

For more information, please contact Colleen@UnityFoodHub.com

Veggies For All Onion Harvest

Join us at our School St. field TUESDAY 9/6 to bring in one of our best looking onion crops in recent memory. We have about 10,000 of them to pull and set to cure, so however you do the math, we need LOTS of hands to help.

We’ll be working from 9 a.m. to Noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Please do not arrive expecting to work between noon and 1, as our crew and other volunteers will all be taking a well deserved break/lunch during that time.

Onion harvest volunteers can head straight to the field on School St., across from the fire station, just east of the raceway. Look for a white and black “VFA” sign along the road. (Roughly 230 School Street Unity, Maine 04988 via GPS.)

This event is ON rain or shine. Please bring whatever you need to be comfortable in that day’s conditions.

RSVP helpful but not required: veggiesforall@mainefarmlandtrust.org // 338-6575

Agrarian Acts: Sold Out Concert Tour

Last week, MFT hosted a sold-out traveling dinner & concert tour with farmer-musicians Adam Nordell and Johanna Davis. The whirlwind tour brought farm-driven music to country stages from Portland to Blue Hill, with stops at Deering Grange in Portland, The Hub in Unity, and Halcyon Grange in Blue Hill.

Adam Nordell is a Maine-based roots-folk songwriter and organic farmer.  Together with his partner Johanna Davis, he cultivates thirteen acres of farmland in Unity at Songbird Farm and travels coast-to-coast performing high-energy, place-based folk music on guitar, banjo and fiddle.  Drawing imagery from the rolling hills of Maine farm country and his native-born Montana mountains, Adam writes lyrics stepped with a clear sense of place and rich in the folk music tradition. His new album is centered around the title track, “Walk These Fields”, and celebrates the beauty and stillness of rural landscapes, the struggle to make ends meet with limited resources, and the constantly surprising resilience that comes with hope.

Adam and Johanna were joined onstage by William Joseph Jiordan in Portland and Blue Hill, and Putnam Smith in Unity. You can find out more about all of these incredible musicians HERE.

In addition to farm-grown music, concert-goers enjoyed pizza made in the Maine Grain Alliance mobile wood-fired oven and made with Songbird Farm’s own flour and vegetables.

school house supper

Schoolhouse Suppers in Unity kick-off June 29

Pop-up dinner series in historic Unity grammar school

Unity. Maine Farmland Trust will kick off a new pop-up dinner series in Unity at the end of this month. The series, called Schoolhouse Suppers, will bring a rotating cast of chefs and flavors to the Unity Food Hub, a recently renovated 1898 grammar school in downtown Unity. The first dinner at the Hub will be held on Wednesday, June 29 and will feature local chef Frank Giglio of Three Lily Farm in Thorndike.

In addition to being a chef and caterer, Giglio is an advocate for local and sustainable foods, and teaches cooking classes throughout the state of Maine and beyond. He recently became the kitchen manager at MOFGA (Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association) and is a local chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation. Giglio’s adventurous culinary offerings have been showcased far and wide through the online health food community, and Frank was the featured chef for NY Times Best-Selling “Clean Eats” cookbook by Dr. Alejandro Junger.

In addition to a beautiful community event space, the former schoolhouse is also home to Unity Food Hub LLC, a start-up that aggregates, stores, and distributes products from dozens of local farms through farm shares and to wholesale markets. UFH was created by Maine Farmland Trust to help smaller farms and producers access new markets. The ingredients for the Schoolhouse Suppers will be sourced from Maine farms through UFH.

The Schoolhouse Supper series aim create a fun, casual, and unique dining experience for Waldo County area residents. The menu for the supper on the 29th will be posted a week before the event, and is sure to showcase Maine’s early summer bounty from local farms.

The Schoolhouse Supper with Frank Giglio will be on Wednesday June 29 at 7PM. Tickets are $40, and include a hearty 3 course meal (appetizer, choice of 2 entrees, dessert). Suppers are BYOB. For more information or to reserve tickets, visit MaineFarmlandTrust.org, or contact Meg at 207-338-6575 or meghan@mainefarmlandtrust.org.

Veggies For All Onion Transplant

photos by Jenny Nelson, text by Sara Trunzo
 
 
Spring in Maine is sometimes colder and actually involves more “gathering up” than Fall harvest time. This time of year at Veggies For All, we amass our stock of seeds (thanks, Fedco!), soils, materials, and tools- like other small farms. We call and email our volunteers to rally them for the many transplanting tasks ahead. Our crew members and volunteers lumber out into the fields, not yet limber from gardening or swimming or hiking. We all stand at the weedless field’s edge, zipping our jackets up to our chins.   
 

Veggies For All (VFA) is food bank farm located in Unity, Maine that works to relieve hunger by growing vegetables for those in need, while collaborating with partners to distribute and increase access to quality and nutritious food.  Founded in 2007 by beginning farmers, VFA is a project of Maine Farmland Trust that has grown and distributed 130,000 pounds of fresh produce to 1,500 people utilizing food pantries in the greater Unity area.

We ask volunteers planting the onions to be sure the delicate roots are completely covered in soil and to make a shallow “well” at the base of each plant. Yes, the slight impression we make with our fingers does catch rain water that helps keep the plant hydrated. But, we also like to think of this step as a little blessing, an extra connection between the transplanter and the transplanted. Volunteers, even very young ones or those who do it differently in their home gardens, are eager to please.

Each year, VFA grows nearly 10,000 onions for eventual distribution to Mainers facing food insecurity. The task of growing and transplanting these onions is not just a sensitive agricultural task, but an apt metaphor for organizing in community, because we aim to pull in many hands at just the right moments. We enlist skilled staff to seed and closely manage the onions through the early Spring, with our student workers supporting the effort by watering, monitoring, trimming, and thinning. Our farm manager cultivates a well-amended field at the proper place in the crop rotation, forming tidy beds. Untrained youth volunteers and longtime gardeners alike step into the field, tiny onion seedlings in hand, to get instruction on just where and just how to “plug them in” to our neat, vast grid.

In a couple months, these slight wisps of green will turn into hearty yellow, white, and purple bulbs to be gathered in heavy black crates. Our small truck beds will overflow with onions on their way to be laid out, cured, and trimmed in the greenhouse before Winter storage. If weather and whim cooperate and if we do our job properly, the crop will make its way to 1,500 of our neighbors utilizing local food pantries.  They’ll sit on kitchen tables, crowd cabinets, and sizzle in sauce pans across central Maine. We can smell it already.   

Songbird Farm

Securing a Future for Farming: Meet Johanna and Adam of Songbird Farm

Songbird Farm, Unity

Adam Nordell and Johanna Davis are typical of many young farmers in Maine: hardworking, smart, and committed to producing good food in a sustainable way.

Both Adam and Johanna had worked on various farms before finding each other, and finding their farming niche. In addition to organic vegetables, Songbird Farm specializes in growing heirloom dry goods, like Jacob’s Cattle beans and Abenaki Flint corn, grains, and heritage wheat flour, part of a burgeoning new market in New England. The couple launched their farm business on leased land, and honed their growing skills, grew their market base, and kept an eye out for a permanent home for their farm. When a 41-acre turn-key farm in Unity was listed for sale on Maine FarmLink, they jumped at the chance to be closer to family, friends, and their Midcoast markets.

MFT purchased an easement on the farm, enabling Adam and Johanna to meet the landowner’s selling price and buy the property.

Help MFT close out our Securing a Future for Farming Campaign. Your gift to MFT means that more farmers will be able to access farmland and support services, more local food will get into the hands of Mainers who need it most, and more farmland will be protected for the future as well as available to support the growing local food economy today. Help grow the future of farming. Donate to MFT today!

 

 

 

Unity Food Hub Grand Opening!

Unity Food Hub will hold a Grand Opening  Thursday, October 1, featuring tours, information about the hub, local food, and door prizes.

The Grand Opening will be from 5-7PM at 69 School Street in Unity and is free and open to the public. The food hub is also open to the public weekly from 4-6PM on Thursdays.

General Manager of the Unity Food Hub, Matt Tremblay, who oversaw the reconstruction of the school building remarks, “we’re excited for members of the community to learn about the restoration of the historic 1898 grammar school and see the finished product.  We are also excited about the many possibilities to promote and celebrate Maine’s agricultural community.”

Tours of the recently and extensively renovated historic school building will highlight facilities like the commercial kitchen, public meeting spaces, cold storage and packing areas. Refreshments using local ingredients sourced by the food hub and prepared by Chef Frank Giglio of Three Lily Farm in Thorndike will be available. Attendees can meet the Food Hub staff and learn how the food hub works.  All attendees will be entered into a door prize for gift certificates that can be redeemed for farm-fresh food at the hub.

Unity Food Hub was created by Maine Farmland Trust to help local farmers access new markets. The facility will be used to aggregate, store, and distribute products from dozens of local farms.

Though the primarily purpose of the food hub is to support Maine farmers, Maine Farmland Trust wanted to create a facility that would also serve the local community in other ways.

Through the food hub, local residents can easily access Maine farm products through a pick-up each Thursday.  Recipients of SNAP benefits can purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at half price–a special opportunity created through a federal grant.

The Grand Opening provides an excellent opportunity for the local community to check out Unity Food Hub and ask questions. For more information, please contact Ellen at 207-338-6575 or ellen@mainefarmlandtrust.org.

Unity to receive technical assistance grant to aid community’s focus on local food, agriculture

Unity to receive technical assistance grant to aid community’s focus on local food, agriculture

By Abigail Curtis, Bangor Daily News

Photo by Gabe Degre for the Bangor Daily News

UNITY, Maine — Some pretty exciting things are starting to happen in Unity, and even the federal government is taking notice.

About 2,100 people live in the small central Maine town, an agricultural center that’s home to Unity College. Despite the small population, Unity has an abundance of ideas and organizations devoted to improving the community — and thanks to a federal technical assistance grant, community leaders are going to get some major help as they decide how to keep up the good work.

“I think it’s the center of the universe,” said Sara Trunzo of Unity, who is the director of Veggies For All and a staff member at the Maine Farmland Trust. “Great stuff is happening, but community is messy. All the projects are happening on their own timeline. Let’s take a step back, and plan a little bit.”

That planning will come courtesy of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the lead funder for the competitive “Local Foods, Local Places” grant initiative. Earlier this month, Trunzo and other local leaders learned that Unity was selected to be one of just 26 communities from around the country, and the only one in New England, that will share $800,000 worth of assistance from the government.

“We’re not getting a pile of money. We’re getting outside expertise to refine the work we’re doing,” said Trunzo. “It will help take all these great ideas about food and agriculture and translate them into action.”

Gail Chase of the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments wrote the grant for the town of Unity.

Those great ideas include Veggies For All, a food bank farm that since 2010 has grown and distributed 75,000 pounds of vegetables to food-insecure people in the Unity area. They also include the Unity Barn Raisers, an active nonprofit that supports local farmers by purchasing local food for community meals; the innovative Volunteer Regional Food Pantry; and the new Unity Food Hub, designed to help local farmers enter the wholesale market.

On a snowy day recently, Trunzo stopped at the food pantry to say hello to senior citizens who had volunteered to prepare fresh vegetables, such as onions and cabbage, for the Saturday morning food bank pickups. Distribution happens just once a month, said Bob Van deVenter, the director of the food bank, and helps about 300 families from the Unity area. Cars that pull up to the drive-through window between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. on distribution day at the old Unity firehouse receive individually packed boxes that include canned and dry goods, as well as fresh vegetables from Veggies For All.

DeVenter is a volunteer at the food bank, too.

“For myself, and what I’ve taught my kids is that you always have to give back,” he said. “Giving back is key.”

Meanwhile, a few blocks away, the sound of hammering and the whine of table saws was audible through the closed doors of the long-vacant former Unity Grammar School. By next spring or summer, the doors will open for the building’s reincarnation as the Unity Food Hub, an aggregation, marketing and distribution center that aims to assist farmers and increase access to local foods.

Although the operation isn’t up and running yet, the idea is going strong, according to Colleen Hanlon-Smith, who does sales, marketing and product placement for the Unity Food Hub. Member farmers can take advantage of a satellite storage facility, including a new walk-in cooler, at the Buckle Farm.

“There’s a lot of collaboration happening between these organizations,” Hanlon-Smith said as muck-boot-wearing farmhands prepared produce to take to a Boston farmers market. “Unity is a nexus with a lot of community leaders focused on agriculture.”

Leaders are excited to figure out where the planning and technical assistance grant might bring them in the near future — and are smiling to know that their hard work has been noticed.

“It’s amazing to live and work in a town of 2,000 people, and have our community recognized nationally,” Trunzo said.

See the article HERE.