Archive for the ‘Workshop’ Category

Farm Scoop – July 2014

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Is Endophyte a Concern for Maine Livestock Producers?

This spring a few beef producers contacted UMaine Extension concerned that Endophyte infected fescue or perennial ryegrass may be adversely affecting their pregnant cattle. In other states Endophyte (fungus) infected pastures can cause abortions and/or poor weight gains in cattle and other livestock that graze these grasses.

Donna Coffin, Extension Educator received funding for a research project to try to assess if our fescue or ryegrass pastures or haylands are infected, how widespread the infected grasses are in Maine and how much of a concern it should be for livestock producers. If you have stands that are predominantly fescue or ryegrass and would like to have them tested for free for endophyte please contact her at 207.564.3301 or by email at Donna Coffin.

 

USDA Announces Funding Availability for Biomass Material into Energy

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began accepting applications June 16 from energy facilities interested in receiving forest or agricultural residues to generate clean energy. The support comes through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), which was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

BCAP provides financial assistance to farmers and ranchers who establish and maintain new crops of energy biomass, or who harvest and deliver forest or agricultural residues to a qualifying energy facility. Of the total $25 million per year authorized for BCAP, the 2014 Farm Bill provides up to 50 percent ($12.5 million) each year for matching payments for the harvest and transportation of biomass residues. BCAP matching payments will resume this summer, while crop incentives will begin in 2015. Some matching payments will support the removal of dead or diseased trees from National Forests and Bureau of Land Management public lands. This will be turned into renewable energy while reducing the risk of forest fire. Agriculture residues, such as corn cobs and stalks, also may qualify as energy-producing feedstock.

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), which administers BCAP, will begin accepting applications from biomass conversion facilities beginning June 16, 2014, through July 14, 2014. Information on funding availability can be found in the Federal Register notice. For more details on applications and deadlines on BCAP, visit a local FSA county office or go online.

 

Hay & Straw DirectoryBaling hay

June has been a great month for making hay.  If you have excess or are the position to sell hay or straw, consider using the Maine Hay and Straw Directory.  It is free to use.  More information is available online, or call Cooperative Extension 1.800.287.1426.

 

Preserving the Harvest July Workshops AnnouncedVegetables for food preservation

Ever wonder about preserving your garden produce?  Learn how at a University of Maine Preserving the Harvest class. Visit the UMaine Cooperative Extension Food and Health page for a listing of current workshops.

 

Maine Home Garden News July Issue Announced

Gardening advice by the month throughout the growing season!  Sign up for gardening information, timely tips and research-based articles written by UMaine Extension staff and Master Gardener Volunteers at Maine Home Garden News.

 

Have you Considered Agritoursim?

Agritoursim is one way to generate more income from the farm.  But it is not for every farm.  Learn more about the benefits and drawbacks by visiting a web site hosted by Rutgers University. The site was initiated to train agriculture service providers. However, much of the information posted can be used directly by farmers and growers. At the site, you will find short videos, training module, fact sheets and worksheets.

 

Tractor Safety on Public Roadsteen on tractro

Consider a safety check-in and conversation with your family members or employees regarding operating tractors on public roads.  Here are a few links for information you may find useful.  Road Safety for Tractors & Farm Machinery and Operating the Tractor on Public Roads.

 

Maine Farms: Life and Business in Balance

The Maine Family Farms: Life and Business in Balance  series recognizes that the needs of farmers at each various life stage are unique, as choices about farming practices, child rearing, business growth, and succession planning enter into decision making. This series consists of five fact sheets plus an introductory fact sheet that can purchased/downloaded individually or as a series. Click here to view

Retail price: FREE DOWNLOAD; color printout $3.00 entire series / $0.50 – $0.75 each

Contact person:  Leslie Forstadt and Tori Jackson

Publisher: UMaine Extension

To order: by email extension.orders@maine.edu or call 207.581.3792 .

To view all the publications:

 

Backyard Locavore Day

Backyard Locavore Day scheduled for August 9th Rain or Shine. This is a unique one day educational event. Gain knowledge on food preservation and gardening from UMaine Extension’s Master Food Preservers and Master Volunteers.  Learn more at the Backyard Locavore Day page.

 

NRCS Announces Application Deadline for Conservation Programs

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced the application deadline dates for two of its conservation programs — the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Agricultural Management Assistance Program.  The Fiscal Year 2015 application deadline for both of these programs is August 15, 2014.

Agricultural producers and foresters are encouraged to sign up now for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which provides financial and technical assistance to address varying natural resource priorities. The Fiscal Year 2015 funding consideration application deadline for most EQIP fund pool categories will be August 15, 2014.  This does not include the EQIP National Water Quality Initiative and Conservation Innovation Grants.  These deadlines are yet to be determined.

The August 15, 2014 deadline for 2015 funding consideration is for both applications for EQIP local Field Office fund pool categories (such as animal waste, cropland, forestry, seasonal high tunnels, pasture, and wildlife) and the statewide fund pool categories (Beginning Farmer, Socially Disadvantaged, Tribal Projects, Water Conservation/Irrigation, Aquatic Organism Passage Projects, Conservation Activity Plans, On-Farm Energy and Organic).  The August 15, 2014 signup deadline is an extension to the previously posted July 1, 2014 deadline for the EQIP local Field Office fund pool, or “general” categories.

Agricultural producers are also encouraged to sign up now for the Agricultural Management Assistance Program (AMA), which also has a Fiscal Year 2015 funding consideration application deadline of August 15, 2014.  AMA assists agricultural producers to manage risk and voluntarily address issues such as water management, water quality, and erosion control by incorporating conservation practices into their farming operations. For 2015, Maine NRCS will again be offering financial assistance for irrigation systems and  introducing an opportunity for funding deer exclusion fencing for orchards through the AMA program.

There is a continuous, year-round sign-up for these two programs, but applications submitted by August 15, 2014 will be considered for funding in Fiscal Year 2015.  Proposals submitted after that date will be held for Fiscal Year 2016 funding consideration.

Interested landowners should visit their local NRCS office located at the USDA Service Center to determine eligibility.   USDA Service Centers are listed online, or in the telephone book under United States Government, Agriculture Department. For more information on EQIP and AMA, please visit the NRCS website.

 

usdaNew USDA Website for Beginning Farmers

New Farm Bill measures and other policy changes to improve the financial security of new and beginning farmers and ranchers. Harden also unveiled www.usda.gov/newfarmers, a new website that will provide a centralized, one-stop resource where beginning farmers and ranchers can explore the variety of USDA initiatives designed to help them succeed.

“New and beginning farmers are the future of American agriculture,” Said Deputy Secretary Harden. “The average age of an American farmer is 58 and rising, so we must help new farmers get started if America is going to continue feeding the world and maintain a strong agriculture economy. The new policies announced today will help give beginning farmers the financial security they need to succeed. Our new online tool will provide one-stop shopping for beginning farmers to learn more about accessing USDA services that can help their operations thrive.”

USDA’s new farmer website has in depth information for new farmers and ranchers, including: how to increase access to land and capital; build new market opportunities; participate in conservation opportunities; select and use the right risk management tools; and access USDA education, and technical support programs. These issues have been identified as top priorities by new farmers. The website will also feature instructive case studies about beginning farmers who have successfully utilized USDA resources to start or expand their business operations.

Today’s policy announcements in support of beginning farmers and ranchers include:

  • Waiving service fees for new and beginning farmers or ranchers to enroll in the Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) for the 2014 crop year. NAP provides risk management tools to farmers who grow crops for which there is no crop insurance product. Under this waiver, announced via an official notice to Farm Service Agency offices, farmers and ranchers who already enrolled in NAP for the 2014 crop year are eligible for a service fee refund.
  • Eliminating payment reductions under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) for new and beginning farmers which will allow routine, prescribed, and emergency grazing outside the primary nesting season on enrolled land consistent with approved conservation plans. Previously, farmers and ranchers grazing on CRP land were subject to a reduction in CRP payments of up to 25 percent. Waiving these reductions for new and beginning farmers will provide extra financial support during times of emergency like drought and other natural disasters. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).
  • Increasing payment rates to beginning farmers and ranchers under Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP). Under this provision, beginning farmers and ranchers can claim up 90 percent of losses for lost livestock, such as bees, under ELAP. This is a fifty percent increase over previously available payment amounts to new and beginning farmers.

USDA 2014 Farm Bill logoIn the near future, USDA will also announce additional crop insurance program changes for beginning farmers and ranchers – including discounted premiums, waiver of administrative fees, and other benefits. These policy announcements are made possible through the 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.

The Deputy Secretary made these announcements at the inaugural meeting of the reconvened Beginning Farmer and Rancher Advisory Committee held at the University of California Davis, California. This Advisory Committee, composed of 20 members, including Extension agents, lenders, farmers, ranchers and academics will meet through 2015 to learn, discuss, and formulate recommendations to USDA on how to support new and beginning farmers.

Additional information about USDA actions in support of beginning farmers and ranchers is available online.

Rogers Farm site of free Sustainable Agriculture Field Day

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014
UMaine Sustainable Ag Field DayThe University of Maine Cooperative Extension will hold its annual Sustainable Agriculture Field Day 4-7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 26, at Rogers Farm, 914 Bennoch Road, Old Town.

Rogers Farm is part of UMaine’s J.F. Witter Teaching and Research Center. The free event is designed for farmers, crop advisers and others interested in agricultural production. UMaine agricultural researchers and Extension faculty will present field research highlighting current applied agricultural research projects, including alternative weed management strategies in vegetable production, opportunities and challenges with winter grains and evaluating plants to support native pollinators.

Presenters include Ellen Mallory, Extension sustainable agriculture specialist; Lois Berg Stack, Extension ornamental horticulture specialist; Eric Gallandt, associate professor of weed ecology and management; John Jemison, Extension water quality specialist; Bryan Brown and Erin Roche, UMaine graduate students in Sustainable Agriculture; and Tom Molloy, sustainable agriculture research associate. Ilse Rasmussen, visiting scholar from the International Center for Research on Organic Food Systems, will discuss sustainable agriculture in Denmark.

Participants will receive one pesticide certification credit and two Certified Crop Adviser credits. Registration begins at 4:30 p.m.; events are 5-7:30 p.m. Participants are invited to arrive at 4 p.m. to participate in a walking weed tour conducted by Gallandt.

For more information, or to request a disability accommodation, contact Mallory at 207.581.2942 or Jemison at 207.581.3241.

What’s That Weed? UMaine Extension Knows

Thursday, May 29th, 2014
Cinquefoil

Rough cinquefoil (Potentilla norvegica L.) in flower, June. Photo by Jennifer Cote

Common weeds that invade vegetable, fruit, and other cultivated crops will be the focus of the walk led by Extension Educator Donna Coffin. She’ll have references available for those who want to learn how to identify and manage weeds. Participants are encouraged to bring a digital photo of problematic weeds in their farms and gardens. Two hours of pesticide recertification credit are available for private pesticide applicators.

For more information, or to request a disability accommodation, contact Coffin at 207.564.3301,800.287.1491 (in Maine), or donna.coffin@maine.edu. Details also are available at calendar.umaine.edu/events/.

Farm Scoop – May 2014

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

University of Maine Cooperative Extension offers FREE Hayfield, Pasture Management Workshops

Baling hayRick Kersbergen, UMaine Extension educator in Waldo County, will lead the “Got Hayfields?” workshops, which focus on how to best manage hayfields and pastures to produce high-quality feed for livestock. Topics include weed control, managing soil fertility, hay and pasture renovation techniques, grazing management and basics of forage quality.

Workshops are scheduled for the following dates, times and locations:

•  May 14, 5:30-7:30 p.m., UMaine Extension, 24 Main St., Lisbon Falls

•  June 3, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Noon Family Sheep Farm, 78 Sunset Road, Springvale

Pre-registration is requested. To register, or to request a disability accommodation, call 1.800.287.1426, or visit the Waldo County program page

2014 FAMACHA Workshop

GoatOn Saturday, May 17th at 3:00 p.m. the North East Livestock Expo (NELE) in Windsor, attend a FAMACHA workshop, designed to equip sheep and goat producers with the skills and knowledge to determine the degree of infections of Haemonchus contorutus (barber pole worm). Cost PER FARM: $20.00 (enrolls multiple attendees). For more information or to enroll, please visit the Cumberland County program page

Pilot Farmers’ Market in Lisbon

The Town of Lisbon, under its Healthy Maine Streets initiative, is interested in starting a pilot Farmer’s Market for the 2014 season at the MTM Community Center at 18 School Street. If you are interested in participating in this exciting new market, please contact Economic & Community Development Director, Tracey Steuber.

There will be an informational meeting for all interested vendors on Tuesday, May 20th at 5:30 p.m. at the UMaine Cooperative Extension office located at 24 Main Street in Lisbon Falls. If you are interested, but unable to make this meeting, please let Tracey know.

UMaine Cooperative Extension offers 2014 Master Food Preserver Program

Strawberries-with-other-vegsMaster Food Preserver (MFP) volunteers serve to extend Extension’s educational programs in food preservation to adults and youth. The MFP Program includes 10 three-hour kitchen lab sessions in the Gorham Middle School, Family and Consumer Science Room, and the UMaine Cooperative Extension Cumberland County office in Falmouth.

Sessions will take place throughout the growing season from June – September, focusing on food preservation techniques including: canning, drying, freezing, fermenting and winter storage techniques.

Once MFPs have successfully completed the Program, they serve as a volunteer and resource in the community to provide the public with research-based information from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and USDA.

Details and application packets are available online at the Food Preservation – Master Food Preserver Program page.

The Andy Valley Successful Farmer Irrigation Workshop

This is the final session in a series of workshops for farmers in the Androscoggin Valley. Irrigation for Field and High Tunnel Production will cover state regulations, water budget, watering systems, drip irrigation, soil moisture monitoring, water conservation and related programs— May 6—All-day— Classroom session at Androscoggin/Sagadahoc Cooperative Extension Office, 24 Main Street, Lisbon Falls and on-site session  at Six River Farm in Bowdoinham.  Advanced Registration Required. To register contact: Jane Heikkinen at 207.753.9400 ext. 400 for a form or go to www.androscogginswcd.org.

Please notify us with any special accommodation needs by May 1. The cost for this workshop session is $15 per person.  BRING YOUR  OWN  LUNCH . Scholarships are available for second person from the farm. Call at number above for scholarship details. Costs are able to remain minimal because of grant funding provided by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service under project#68-1218-13-17.

garlic; photo by Edwin RemsbergNew UMaine Extension Garlic Website

Found as an important ingredient in many cuisines, garlic is an easy-to-grow, high value crop that is increasingly popular in Maine with farmers and gardeners. The UMaine Garlic Website will assist in all aspects of the garlic growing cycle.

Sign-Up for USDA Disaster Assistance Programs Restored by Farm Bill

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that starting today, eligible farmers and ranchers can sign up for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster assistance programs restored by passage of the 2014 Farm Bill.

Depending on the size and type of farm or ranch operation, eligible producers can enroll in one of four programs administered by the Farm Service Agency.  The Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), and the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) will provide payments to eligible producers for livestock deaths and grazing losses that have occurred since the expiration of the livestock disaster assistance programs in 2011, and including calendar years 2012, 2013, and 2014.  The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish that have suffered losses because of disease, severe weather, blizzards and wildfires.

Producers signing up for these programs are encouraged to contact their local FSA office for information on the types of records needed and to schedule an appointment.  Taking these steps in advance will help producers ensure their application moves through the process as quickly as possible.

Supporting documents may include livestock birth records, purchase and transportation receipts, photos and ownership records showing the number and type of livestock lost, documents listing the gallons of water transported to livestock during drought, and more.  Crop records may include purchase receipts for eligible trees, bushes, or vines, seed and fertilizer purchases, planting and production records, and documentation of labor and equipment used to plant or remove eligible trees, bushes, or vines.

Producers have three to nine months to apply depending on the program and year of the loss.  Details are available from any local FSA office.

For more information, producers may review the 2014 Farm Bill Fact Sheet, and the LIP, LFP, ELAP and TAP fact sheets online, or visit any local FSA office or USDA Service Center.

Marketing for Profit: Tools for Success Free Course for Farmers

The Farmers Market Federation of NY and the NY Farm Viability Institute are cosponsoring an online course in Marketing aimed at farmers called Marketing for Profit: Tools for Success. This program is funded by USDA SARE’s NE Professional Development Program and hosted by Cornell Cooperative Extension Broome County.

There is no charge for the course which can be taken by farmers at their convenience asynchronously and is accessible any time, day or night. Participants do not have to follow a specific schedule which makes it easier for farmers to participate since they can move through the course at their own pace.

The curriculum includes the following five components, or modules: Self-Assessment, Market Assessment, Customer Assessment, Communications Assessment, and Business Assessment. Within each module there are three sessions which include a video of each live presentation, Q & A documents, glossary of terms, links to additional resources, an online discussion forum, homework assignments, and a quiz. By completing all five modules, farmers will be able to learn essential marketing skills to analyze their personal and business capacity, determine optimal marketing channels, build their customer base, and increase their sales and profits. After completing the course, participants will have all the knowledge needed to create their complete farm business and marketing plan.

Successful completion of all sessions within each of the 5 components including the assignments and quizzes will earn the participant a Certificate of Achievement. In addition, farmers who complete the course in its entirety will be eligible for borrower training credits through the USDA Farm Services Agency.

To register for this free online curriculum to help farmers increase their marketing skills and grow their business, go to the Marketing for Profit: Tools for Success page.

For more information on the curriculum, or on using the course to qualify for borrower training credits, please contact the Farmers Market Federation office at 315.637.4690.

Female black-legged tick

Female black-legged tick; photo by Scott Bauer.

UMaine Extension Tick I.D. Lab

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension Pest Management Office has started a new tick identification lab.  The PMO has always identified ticks with averaging around 50 or so specimens a year.  The bulk of Maine’s tick identifications were done at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute in Scarborough.  There, they processed up to 1300 samples per year, looking at tick distribution and occurrence of Lyme disease as well as other tick borne problems.

As of Dec 31, 2013 they stopped this part of their research and approached the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Pest Management Office to take over the I.D. part of this service.  A website, as well as a submission program/online form, were quickly established, and a $10 fee per tick for ID instated.  To ensure quick turnaround time on specimens, an extensive day-long training was held at PMO for tick ID of the 14 species found in Maine. The program came online the first week April, and the first tick specimens are now being submitted.  Please go online to view the new website and find the submission form.

Pollinator Protection – A very important topic for growers, commercial beekeepers and pesticide applicators

In 2012, David Yarborough, University of Maine Wild Blueberry Specialist, said, “There are usually about 55,000 hives trucked in each spring from places as far away as Florida, Texas and California.” With anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 bees per hive, that’s a billion bees. Without these pollinators Maine’s wild blueberry crop yields would suffer.  Many other crops also rely on pollinators, especially our fruits and vegetables.

Nationwide, honey bee colonies have been declining in recent years due to several factors, including parasitic mites, viruses, fungal diseases, malnutrition, lack of genetic diversity and improper use of pesticides. The overwintering losses have averaged in the 30% range over the last seven seasons (see graph below courtesy of www.beeinformed.org).  This level of decline is not sustainable.

honey bee loss graph in the USThe prevailing theory among scientists in the EPA, USDA and global scientific and regulatory community is that the general declining health of honey bees is related to complex interactions among multiple stressors including:

  • pests (e.g., varroa mite), pathogens (e.g., the bacterial disease American foulbrood) and viruses.
  • poor nutrition (e.g., due to loss of foraging habitat and increased reliance on supplemental diets);
  • pesticide exposure;
  • bee management practices (e.g., long migratory routes to support pollination services); and
  • lack of genetic diversity.

Growers, commercial beekeepers and pesticide applicators in Maine must work together to help stem this tide of pollinator decline.  The Board of Pesticide Control’s website now has a web page to provide growers and applicators with resources to help reduce the risk of pesticide applications affecting pollinators (see link below).

We all need to know which pesticides and adjuvants are toxic to pollinators and how to reduce the potential for pollinator exposure when we use those products.  Of course the most risky products are insecticides, but there are some combinations of insecticides and fungicides or certain types of surfactants that appear to be toxic to bees and other pollinators in either their adult or larval stages.

Pesticide Bee IconSome products (neonicotinoid and diamide insecticides at first) will have new label warnings that include this “bee icon” on the label.  It is extremely important for growers and applicators to follow the restrictions on those labels very carefully.  Other labels will continue to have language that restricts application during bloom or when bees (or other pollinators) are foraging on flowering crops or adjacent weeds.  Of course those restrictions are equally binding.

Other important practices that pesticide applicators should follow to protect pollinators include:

  • Avoiding unnecessary pesticide applications by following integrated pest management practices
  • Choosing pesticides carefully – see How to Reduce Bee Poisoning from Pesticides
  • Application of pollinator toxic pesticides (PTP) at night or when temperatures are under 45 degrees F
  • Delaying application of PTP until after full petal fall
  • Avoiding tank mixes, especially with insecticide-miticide or insecticide-fungicide combinations
  • Avoiding spills or splashes that leave pesticides in puddles or standing water
  • Notifying beekeepers within 2 – 3 miles of your application site prior to PTP applications
  • Avoiding multiple applications of systemic insecticides on potted nursery plants
  • Avoiding use of organo-silicone surfactants around bloom periods – see Compendium of Herbicide Adjuvants
  • Proper planting of treated seed to avoid creation of toxic dusts

The Board’s new Pollinator Protection web resource page provides additional information.

Additional resources:

 If you have any questions, please contact us at pesticides@maine.gov .

Learn to ID Goat, Sheep Parasite at UMaine Extension FAMACHA Workshop

Friday, April 18th, 2014
goatsUniversity of Maine Cooperative Extension will offer a FAMACHA workshop to teach farmers how to identify parasite infection in sheep and goats Saturday, May 17 at the Northeast Livestock Expo in Windsor, Maine.

FAMACHA is a diagnostic tool — a chart — that matches an animal’s eyelid color to anemia levels, thus enabling farmers to target treatment for sheep and goats infected with the barber pole worm. Thomas Settlemire, professor emeritus at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, and Richard Brzozowski, UMaine Extension small ruminant specialist, will present the workshop.

Participants will receive hands-on training, an information packet, record sheets and a FAMACHA card. Cost is $20 per farm. To enroll, visit http://umaine.edu/cumberland/programs/famacha-workshops/. For more information, or to request disability accommodations, contact 207.781.6099, 1.800.287.1471 (in Maine) or lynne.b.hazelton@maine.edu.

Farm Scoop – April 2014

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

UMaine Extension offers Hayfield,
Pasture Management WorkshopsBaling hay

University of Maine Cooperative Extension is offering free workshops on hayfield and pasture management this spring around the state.

Rick Kersbergen, UMaine Extension educator in Waldo County, will lead the “Got Hayfields?” workshops, which focus on how to best manage hayfields and pastures to produce high-quality feed for livestock. Topics include weed control, managing soil fertility, hay and pasture renovation techniques, grazing management and basics of forage quality.

Workshops are scheduled for the following dates, times and locations:

•  April 3, 6-8 p.m., Farmington Grange, 124 Bridge Street, West Farmington

•  April 10, 7-9 p.m., UMaine Extension, 307 Maine Avenue, Bangor

•  April 24, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Vassalboro Grange, Route 32, East Vassalboro

•  April 30, 2-4 p.m., UMaine Extension, 57 Houlton Road, Presque Isle

•  May 14, 5:30-7:30 p.m., UMaine Extension, 24 Main Street, Lisbon Falls

•  June 3, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Noon Family Sheep Farm, 78 Sunset Road, Springvale

Pre-registration is requested. Register here, or to request a disability accommodation, call 1.800.287.1426.

 

School for Poultry Producers Focuses on
Best Practices, Bird Health

UMaine Extension and Maine Poultry Growers Association (MPGA) will offer a daylong school for poultry producers on Saturday, April 5th from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield.

Topics will include best management practices, bird health and disease prevention for egg layers and meat birds. Additional topics include poultry nutrition, poultry product quality and organic practices.

The school is designed for farmers with a poultry enterprise and is appropriate for backyard keepers, bird fanciers and 4-H teens. The $25 fee ($10 for MPGA members) includes a reference notebook, a poultry break-even calculator and refreshments. Participants should bring their lunch.

The Maine Farm Bureau and Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association are co-sponsors. For more information and to register, visit the Cumberland County Extension page, or call UMaine Extension, 207.781.6099. To request a disability accommodation, call 207.781.6099 or 1.800.287.1471 (in Maine only).

 

Conservation of our Native BeesA queen bee with some of her attending workers.

Alison C. Dibble, Ph.D., conservation biologist and pollination ecologist from the University of Maine, Orono, will speak on April 8, at 7:00 p.m. (weather date April 15) at the Standish Town Hall. Her talk will feature a summary of what we know of the 270 species of native bees in Maine, their importance as pollinators, and recognition of their potential role in crop pollination given the decline of the introduced honey bee due to Colony Collapse Disorder. She will offer practical tips on how to enhance bee habitats in the home garden and around the farm, and where to look for more resources. She will emphasize bumble bees, which are easy to recognize and are starting to fly in early April. With Dr. Frank Drummond and others at the University of Maine, Dr. Dibble researches use of native bees as pollinators of the wild blueberry crop in a 5-year USDA-funded project on pollination security in four crops of the northeast (includes also apple, cranberry, squashes). She also prepares pollinator habitat enhancement plans for farmers around the state.

The talk is hosted by the Wildridge Garden Club and is free and open to the public.

 

Final Date for Maine Farms for the Future Clinics

GET YOURSELF READY NOW! This is the final free clinic offered by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, to help interested and farmers confirm their eligibility and “practice” applying for the Maine Farms for the Future Business Planning Grant in mid-September.

The last clinic will be held in Room 319 of the Deering Building which is located at 90 Blossom Lane in Augusta.

Thursday, April 10 – 1:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m.

Space is limited to 15 participants per clinic. Please call Kimbalie Lawrence at 207.287.3491 to reserve your place at the table and get a jump on your application.

 

Organic Livestock Health Care

with Susan Beal

April 12, 2014; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Common Ground Education Center, Unity.

Please bring a bag lunch and register here.

Susan has a clear understanding of organic livestock care and its relation to physiology, nutrition, herbs and homeopathy. She will give a good overview related to all species.

Agenda:

Morning: Patterns and Articulation: Individual and Intergenerational Health and Vitality

Afternoon: Building Holistic Health: Patterns and Practices, Tools and Techniques

Question and Answer Session

 

Blade Shearing School with Kevin Fordsheep shearing

Date: April 11-12, 2014

Time: 9:00 a.m.

Fee: $110 per student. Limit of 10 participants. Includes shearing manual, morning refreshments and lunch each day.

Location: At the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village in New Gloucester, Maine.

Spectators are welcome.

 

Intermediate Level Sheep Shearing School
with Gwen Hinman

Date: April 13th, 2014

Time: 9:00 a.m.

Fee: $85 per student. Limit of six participants. Includes shearing manual, morning refreshments and lunch.

Location: Washington, Maine

 

Beginner Level Sheep Shearing School

Date: April 26th, 2014

Time: 9:00 a.m.

Fee: $40 per student. Limit of 18 participants. Includes shearing manual, morning refreshments and lunch.

Location: Wolfe Neck Farm, Freeport, ME

Spectators are welcome.

For more information or to register please visit the Cumberland County Extension page.

 

Farm Tractor Safety Course for
Youth and AdultsYouth on Tractor

Farm work can be dangerous, but a University of Maine Cooperative Extension tractor safety course will help reduce risks to Maine farmers and farm workers. A farm tractor safety course will be held on 5 consecutive Tuesday evenings starting April 29, 2014 at the Maine Forest Service Building on Route 26 (356 Shaker Road) in Gray.

Participants should be at least 13 years of age to participate in this certified course. Adults

Location for Most Sessions: Maine Forest Service, Route 26 (Shaker Road) in Gray

Instructor: Richard J. Brzozowski, Extension Educator

Fee: $20.00 (scholarships available)

Course Schedule:

Session #1 6:30 – 8:30 p.m, Tuesday, April 29, 2014 – Maine Forest Service, Route 26, in Gray. Registration and introduction to the course, requirements of the course, all assignments must be completed and submitted plus ten hours of practice driving.

Session #2 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 6, 2014 – Meet at Hall Implement in Windham (Foster’s Corner near the rotary of Routes 302 / 202) Safety check of farm equipment exercise and tractor controls and parts identification exercise.

Session #3 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 13, 2014 – Maine Forest Service Building, Gray.

Session #4 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 20, 2014 – Maine Forest Service Building, Gray. Practice driving, safety video, and review for final exam.

Session #5 5:30 – 8:00 p.m., Tuesday, May 27, 2014 – Driving Test and Written Final Exam. Tentatively scheduled for Windham Public Works, 185 Windham Center Road, Windham.

An adult must sign off on driving hours logged for youth. Participants must successfully pass the final written exam, and successfully complete the tractor hook up and driving exams, to be certified.

For more information call 207.781.6099 or 1.800.287.1471 (in Maine) or email Lynne Hazelton. Registration is required, and space is limited.

 

York County Farmers’ Network (YCFN) Upcoming Events

YCFN Potluck Dinner and Conservation Easement Workshop

Date: Tuesday, April 15

Time: 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.

Location: Anderson Learning Center, 21 Bradeen St., Springvale, Maine 04083

Cost: Free

Jointly sponsored with Three Rivers Land Trust, from 5:30 to 6:15, enjoy the potluck dinner (bring a dish to share and your own plates and utensils). Following dinner, we’ll have a presentation about conservation easements, with a special focus on how easements may fit into landowners’ plans for future use of their farm or property. Please RSVP and feel free to tell interested friends and neighbors about this event.

 YCFN Potluck Supper and Farm Tour at Riverside Farm

Date: Tuesday, May 13

Time: 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.

Location: N. Berwick, hosted by Riverside Farm owner Dave Tuttle

Potluck supper, followed by a tour of Riverside Farm’s new hydroponics endeavor. Dave Tuttle will lead discussions on small tools as well as on farm transitions: wholesale to retail and from one generation to the next. Questions, or if you need directions, please contact Frank Wertheim or Becky Gowdy at UMaine Extension in York County, 207-324-2814.

 

UMaine Cooperative Extension offers
2014 Master Food Preserver ProgramMason jars full of canned produce

Master Food Preserver (MFP) volunteers serve to extend Extension’s educational programs in food preservation to adults and youth. The MFP Program includes 10 three-hour kitchen lab sessions in the Gorham Middle School, Family and Consumer Science Room, and the UMaine Cooperative Extension Cumberland County office in Falmouth.

Sessions will take place throughout the growing season from June – September, focusing on food preservation techniques including: canning, drying, freezing, fermenting and winter storage techniques.

Once MFPs have successfully completed the Program, they serve as a volunteer and resource in the community to provide the public with research-based information from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and USDA.

Details and application packets are available online at the Food Preservation – Master Food Preserver Program page.

 

University of Maine Cooperative Extension
launches a new Garlic Website4-garlic-bulbs

Garlic is a member of the Allium family, which includes onions, chives, and leeks. Garlic originated in central Asia, and has been grown for 5,000 years in Egypt and India. Found as an important ingredient in many cuisines, garlic is an easy-to-grow, high value crop that is increasingly popular in Maine with farmers and gardeners. Visit the new garlic website for more information.

 

Wishing for Spring?

Read the latest articles on gardening in the Maine Home Garden News. Sign up online to receive monthly issues throughout the growing season.

 

USDA Enhances Farm Storage Facility Loan Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the expansion of the Farm Storage and Facility Loan program, which provides low-interest financing to producers. The enhanced program includes 22 new categories of eligible equipment for fruit and vegetable producers, and makes it easier for farmers and ranchers around the country to finance the equipment they need to grow and expand.

Producers with small and mid-sized operations, and specialty crop fruit and vegetable growers, now have access to needed capital for a variety of supplies including sorting bins, wash stations and other food safety-related equipment. A new more flexible alternative is also provided for determining storage needs for fruit and vegetable producers, and waivers are available on a case-by-case basis for disaster assistance or insurance coverage if available products are not relevant or feasible for a particular producer.

Additionally, Farm Storage and Facility Loans security requirements have been eased for loans between $50,000 and $100,000. Previously, all loans in excess of $50,000 required a promissory note and additional security, such as a lien on real estate. Now loans up to $100,000 can be secured by only a promissory note.

Other new changes to the Farm Storage and Facility Loan program will allow FSA State Committees to subordinate Commodity Credit Corporation’s lien position. These changes to the program were issued via an official notice to state and county Farm Service Agency offices and are effective immediately. More than 33,000 loans have been issued for on-farm storage, increasing grain storage capacity by 900 million bushels since May 2000.

More information about tools and resources available to small and mid-sized farmers will be rolled out in the coming months, including information about access to capital, risk management, food safety, and locating market opportunities on USDA’s Small and Mid-Sized Farmer Resources webpage.

Visit the FSA website or an FSA county office to learn more about FSA programs and loans, including the Farm Storage Facility Loan Program.

 

 

Explore Farming with UMaine Extension

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014
University of Maine Cooperative Extension and Piscataquis Valley Adult Education Cooperative (PVAEC) explore what it takes to be a farmer in Maine on Wednesday, March 26, 5:30-7:30 p.m., at UMaine Extension, 165 East Main St., Dover-Foxcroft.

“Is Farming for ME?” will instruct attendees how to assess all assets that can contribute to a successful farm and where they can go for more information on starting a farm business plan. The program is part of the YOU CAN series of workshops developed to teach self-sufficiency skills to Maine families.

Donna Coffin, Extension Educator for Piscataquis and Penobscot counties and statewide resource for the Maine beef and equine industry, will lead the workshop. Cost is $5; pre-registration is required. To register, call 207.564.6525 or visit http://bit.ly/pyoucan. For more information, or to request a disability accommodation, call 207.564.3301 or 800.287.1491 (in Maine).

UMaine Extension offers hayfield, pasture management workshops

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014
Baling hayUniversity of Maine Cooperative Extension is offering free workshops on hayfield and pasture management this spring around the state.

Rick Kersbergen, UMaine Extension educator in Waldo County, will lead the “Got Hayfields?” workshops, which focus on how to best manage hayfields and pastures to produce high-quality feed for livestock. Topics include weed control, managing soil fertility, hay and pasture renovation techniques, grazing management and basics of forage quality.

Workshops are scheduled for the following dates, times and locations:

  • March 25, 6:30-8:30 p.m., UMaine Extension, 992 Waterville Road, Waldo
  • April 3, 6-8 p.m., Farmington Grange, 124 Bridge St., West Farmington
  • April 10, 7-9 p.m., UMaine Extension, 307 Maine Ave., Bangor
  • April 24, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Vassalboro Grange, Route 32, East Vassalboro
  • April 30, 2-4 p.m., UMaine Extension, 57 Houlton Road, Presque Isle
  • May 14, 5:30-7:30 p.m., UMaine Extension, 24 Main St., Lisbon Falls
  • June 3, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Noon Family Sheep Farm, 78 Sunset Road, Springvale

Pre-registration is requested. To register, or to request a disability accommodation, call 1.800.287.1426, or visit http://umaine.edu/waldo/programs/events/got-hayfields.

UMaine Extension Offers Tractor and Farm Equipment Safety Class

Monday, March 17th, 2014
Youth on TractorA University of Maine Cooperative Extension tractor and farm machinery safety course will be held 5-7 p.m. five consecutive Tuesdays beginning Tuesday, April 15, at Ingraham’s Equipment, 3 Knox Ridge South, Knox.
This class is designed for youth ages 14-16 to earn federal certification to operate farm machinery as part of their employment. It is also appropriate for adults who want to learn how to drive tractors and operate implements. Participants will be expected to operate machinery during class. A written and driving exam will be administered at the final session in May; it is required for those wishing to earn federal certification.

A $20 enrollment fee pays for a manual and safety equipment. Pre-registration is requested so course materials may be sent to enrollees prior to the first class. For more information, to register, or to request a disability accommodation, contact UMaine Extension in Waldo County at 1.800.287.1426.

UMaine Extension Offers Free Apple Tree Pruning Field Day

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Pruning a fruit tree branchThe University of Maine Cooperative Extension is offering a free apple tree pruning and grafting field day Saturday, April 19, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Avalon Acres Orchard & Farm, 234 Dexter Road, in Saint Albans.

Avalon Acres owner Mark Sheriff, an alumnus of the UMaine Extension Master Gardener Volunteers program, will host. He’ll present information about general planting and management practices for apple trees then demonstrate pruning and grafting in the orchard. Apple tree growers and people who plan to plant apple trees this spring are invited to attend.

Pre-registration is requested but not required. Attendees should wear footwear appropriate for walking on uneven terrain. Rain date is Saturday, April 26. For more information, to register, or to request a disability accommodation, contact Peter Bastien, 207.474.9622, 800.287.1945 (toll free in Maine).