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).
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.
Morning: Patterns and Articulation: Individual and Intergenerational Health and Vitality
Afternoon: Building Holistic Health: Patterns and Practices, Tools and Techniques
Question and Answer Session
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 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)
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
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.
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.
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.
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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.