Kathryn Hopkins, a University of Maine Cooperative Extension educator and professor, spoke with the Portland Press Herald about Maine’s maple syrup season and how the colder weather, mixed with warm spells, has been affecting it. Hopkins said some producers in southern Maine have been able to make syrup during the brief warm temperatures, but a lot of people are still waiting for warmer weather before they begin to tap. She said she’s not worried about the late start, and if the weather warms up in a few weeks, there would still be a six-week season.
“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).
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.
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.
The 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).
Registration is open for the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s annual Maine Grain Conference, which will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 15, at the Spectacular Events Center, 395 Griffin Road, Bangor. The conference is designed for farmers, crop advisers and others involved in the agricultural community.
Featured speakers Klaas Martens and Mary-Howell Martens from Lakeview Organic Farm in Penn Yan, N.Y. will talk about organic grain rotations, production considerations for alternative grains, growing grain for seed and protecting grain quality with proper harvesting, drying, cleaning and storage. The Martens farm 1,400 acres of corn, wheat, barley, oats and legumes. They also operate a feed mill and sell organic feed, crop seed and food-grade grains.
Dorn Cox of the four-generation Tuckaway Farm in Lee, N.H. will discuss grain equipment options for all scales of operation. The grain grower will also give an overview of his 250-acre farm, as well as of the Great Bay Grain Cooperative that shares equipment and expertise.
Ellen Mallory, UMaine Extension sustainable agriculture specialist and conference organizer, will update attendees on UMaine grain research results with graduate students Aaron Englander and Erin Roche. An open question-and-discussion session will be held so participants can tap into available expertise.
Participants will receive two pesticide certification credits and six Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) credits.
Pre-registration is required by Thursday, March 13. Cost is $20 if pre-registered by March 10, $30 after. The fee covers lunch and a snack. To pre-register and pay online, visit http://umaine.edu/agriculture/programs/2014-maine-grain-workshop/. For more information, to pre-register by phone, or to request a disability accommodation, call Meghan Dill at 207.581.3878.
Do you have enough hay to get through the winter? Do you have hay for sale? Use the Maine Hay Directory to locate possible hay sources or post the availability of your hay.
If you need straw or have straw for sale, use the Maine Straw Directory.
York County Farmers Network Upcoming Events
Off-the-Farm YCFN Winter Breakfast
Date: March 4th
Time: 8:00 a.m.
Location: Hen House Cafe, 446 Main Street, Springvale, Maine 04083
Cost: Free to YCFN members, generously sponsored by Farm Credit of Maine
Thanks to Farm Credit of Maine, this breakfast is free to YCFN members. A small donation from non-member visitors is requested. The Hen House Cafe in Springvale is a quick hop from the Extension office building, right across the street from the Maine District Courthouse on Main Street (Route 109). Questions, or if you need directions, please contact Frank Wertheim or Becky Gowdy at 207.324.2814. You may call the Extension office before 4:30 p.m. on the day before the breakfast (Monday) to check on possible cancellation due to weather.
YCFN Potluck – Farm Transitions and Succession Planning: What to Do, What Not to Do
Date: March 18th
Time: 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. (program starts at 6:30 p.m.)
Location: Nasson Heritage room, Anderson Learning Center, 21 Bradeen Street, Springvale, Maine 04083
Who is going to carry on your work on the family woodlot or family farm when you’re gone? Please come for a potluck dinner and presentation on farms and other real property in transition from the current owners to the next generation or to others, and pointers on how to help it happen smoothly. Rich Merk, President of SWOAM (Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine), will lead a discussion on succession planning; how to plan for the future ownership or control of real property that you have invested in for years or maybe generations. The Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine, Three Rivers Land Trust and the York County Farmers Network jointly present this program. Questions, or if you need directions, please contact Frank Wertheim or Becky Gowdy at UMaine Extension in York County, 207.324.2814. You may call the Extension office before 4:30 p.m. on the day of the event to check on possible cancellation due to weather.
YCFN Potluck – 100 Unique Maine Farms
Date: March 25th
Time: 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. (program starts at 6:30 p.m.)
Location: Nasson Heritage room, Anderson Learning Center, 21 Bradeen Street, Springvale, Maine 04083
York County resident Mary Doyle spent two years on the road visiting 100 unique Maine farms and is writing a book on that topic. She has incredible stories and pictures to share. Questions, or if you need directions, please contact Frank Wertheim or Becky Gowdy at UMaine Extension in York County, 207.324.2814. You may call the Extension office before 4:30 p.m. on the day of the event to check on possible cancellation due to weather.
Chelsea (MA) Market YCFN Field Trip
Date: March 27th
Time: 1:00 a.m. – 7:00 a.m.
Location: Wells Transportation Center parking lot
Meet at the Wells Transportation Center/Park at 1:00 a.m. and commute with fellow farmers to a 3:00 a.m. arrival at Chelsea Market outside of Boston. Experience a unique behind the scenes tour of the market. We should be done by 5:00 a.m. and back in Wells by 7:00 a.m. for a day’s work.
FMI on all these events visit the York County Farmers Network.
The Andy Valley Successful Farmer Workshop Series –
Dates: Wednesdays, March 5-26, 2014
Time: 5:45 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Location: Androscoggin Valley Soil & Water Conservation District,
254 Goddard Road, Lewiston, Maine 04240
Registration: Full 5-session registration $50/person or $15/individual session
Join with other new and experienced farmers, University of Maine Cooperative Extension educators, and other agricultural professionals to share strategies for successful farming. Topics include crop, nutrient and pest management; irrigation, and transition to organic production. This series includes four evening sessions and one full-day session in May. Full details, including how to register, are available at AVSWCD. Contact Jane Heikkinen, 207.753.9400 x 400, with any questions or to request a disability accommodation.
Sponsored by Androscoggin Valley Soil & Water Conservation District, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry; USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services; and University of Maine Cooperative Extension. All sponsors are equal opportunity employers.
FREE Cover Crops Webinars
Dates: Thursdays, March 6-27, 2014, 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. (EST)
Registration: FREE to all who wish to participate! Register online for individual webinars or the entire series.
This ASA webinar series will focus on cover crops and their implications on soil health, maximizing yields, livestock considerations, and crop management.
March 6 – Cover Crops, Soil Health Principals and Maximizing Yields
March 13 – Combining Livestock, Manure and Cover Crops
March 20 – Cover Crops Seed Selection and Planting
March 27 – Cover Crop Management and Termination
2014 Maine Grain Conference
Saturday, March 15th
8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Spectacular Events Center, Bangor
(395 Griffin Road, near the airport)
- Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens, Lakeview Organic Grains, Penn Yan, New York
- Dorn Cox, Tuckaway Farm, Lee, New Hampshire
- Rotations for Organic Grains
- Alternative Grain Options and Production Considerations
- Growing Grains for Seed
- Protecting Quality – Harvesting, Drying, Cleaning and Storing Grains
- Grain Equipment for All Sizes
- What’s Going On with Grains in Maine
- UMaine Grain Research Results
- Tap the Expertise in the Room – Come prepared with questions to ask the group.
Get more information, or register online by March 13th for the Maine Grain Conference! Pre-registration is required – $20 before March 10th; $30 afterwards; Includes snack and lunch. Pesticide and CCA credits have been requested. To register by phone and pay by check, call Meghan Dill, 207.581.3878. Other questions, call or email Cooperative Extension Sustainable Agriculture Specialist Ellen Mallory, 207.581.2942.
Maine Grass Farmers Network 10th Annual Grazing Conference
Saturday, March 15th
8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield
The cost is $75 per person, $25 for each additional person from the same farm or household, with discounts for students and MGFN members. This conference is designed for livestock producers who want to learn how to best use pasture and forage crops to feed their livestock profitably.
This year’s conference features Forrest Pritchard, a professional farmer, writer and public speaker. His farm, Smith Meadows, is one of the first “grass finished” farms in the country, and has sold products at farmers markets in Washington, D.C., for 15 years. His book Gaining Ground, A Story of Farmers’ Markets, Local Food and Saving the Family Farm was named a Top Read by Publishers Weekly, The Washington Post and NPR’s “The Splendid Table.” Pritchard’s keynote presentation is “The Economics of Grass-Based Livestock.”
Additional presenters will include University of Vermont livestock specialist Joe Emenheiser and Crystal Springs Farm manager Seth Kroek. The conference will also feature the MGFN annual business meeting, a grass-fed beef cook-off and a trade show.
The MGFN Conference is co-sponsored by University of Maine Cooperative Extension; The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association; The Natural Resources Conservation Service; The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry; and the Maine Beef Producers Association.
2014 Pesticide Applicator Recertification Training
Presented by UMaine Cooperative Extension & Maine Board of Pesticides Control
For your convenience, recertification meetings have been scheduled at various sites around the state. Each of these sessions is worth 4 recertification credits.
Seating is limited at each location, so be sure to pre-register by returning the Pesticide Registration Form by March 17. Pre-registration is $20. Registration after March 17 is $30.
Locations, Dates and Times:
Presque Isle – March 25 – Presque Isle Inn, 116 Main St., 12:30 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.
Brewer – March 26 – Jeff’s Catering, 15 Littlefield Ave., 8:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Augusta – March 26 – Augusta Civic Center, Washington and York Rooms, 76 Community Dr., 12:30 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.
Portland – March 27 – Keeley’s Banquet Center, 178 Warren Ave., 8:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
- Registration check-in – 30 minutes before the program starts.
- 1st Hour – Bee Health Status, Commercial and Native Bees – Frank Drummond, UMaine Cooperative Extension
- 2nd Hour – Pollinator Protection – How Pesticide Applicators Can Reduce the Risks – Gary Fish, Board of Pesticides Control
- 3rd Hour – Pesticide Selection & Regulation Update – Gary Fish, Board of Pesticides Control
- 4th Hour – Invasive Insects & Plants – Staff, MeDACF
Credits are given for one session only. Questions about your recertification credits? Call the Board of Pesticides Control 207.287.2731.
Maine Farms for the Future Clinics
GET YOURSELF READY NOW! In March and April, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, will offer three free clinics 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 clinics will be held on the following dates, in Room 319 of the Deering Building which is located at 90 Blossom Lane in Augusta.
- Tuesday, March 18 – 9:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
- Friday, March 21 – 9:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
- 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.
Transferring the Farm
A Workshop to Help Farm Families Minimize Farm Business Succession Risk by addressing estate planning, business structures, and developing plans to move your farm to the next generation.
Two dates/locations from which to choose:
April 1, 2014
Cooperative Extension Office
307 Maine Ave.
April 2, 2014
Androscoggin-Sagadahoc Extension Office
24 Main Street
Lisbon Falls, ME
Additional information and registration available here, 2014 Transferring the Farm brochure Bangor and Lisbon Falls. Registration deadline is March 28.
Do you need affordable health insurance? Free, in-person help is available! The Maine Migrant Health Program is a non-profit organization with over 20 years of experience providing healthcare to Maine’s migrant and seasonal farmworkers. If you own your own farm, need coverage for you and your family, are an employee who is looking for coverage, or a member of the general public, we are here to help members of Maine’s agricultural community get enrolled in a health insurance plan.
We have Certified Application Counselors across the state that are available to:
- meet with you to provide information on the Affordable Care Act
- explain the discounts that are available to low and moderate income individuals and families
- assist you in applying for coverage
- support you in choosing a health insurance plan.
Our services are free and available to the general public. Don’t delay! The deadline to enroll is March 31, 2014. Please call Liz Charles at 207.441.1633 or Eduardo Cortes at 207.485.5553 for more information or to schedule an appointment.
UMaine Cooperative Extension offers
2014 Master Food Preserver Program
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.
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 UMaine Extension Maine Poultry School 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 7 at 7:00 p.m. (weather date April 14) 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 bumblebees, 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.
April 11-12, 2014
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Fee: $110 per student. Limit of ten 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
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
April 26th, 2014
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Fee: $40 per student. Limit of ten participants. Includes shearing manual, morning refreshments and lunch.
Location: Wolfe Neck Farm, Freeport, ME
Spectators are welcome. Information and registration are available online.
Proposed Changes to the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS)
EPA has issued proposed changes to the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) to increase protections from pesticide exposure for the nation’s two million agricultural workers and their families. The best source of information is on the EPA website. EPA is seeking your input by the date specified in the Federal Register notice, which will publish within 10 days, identified by docket number EPA-HQ-OPP-2011-0184-0002.
EPA is proposing revisions to the Worker Protection Standard through a Federal Register Notice. These revisions will protect more than two million farm workers from pesticide exposure.
- Today marks an important milestone for the farm workers who plant, tend, and harvest the food that we put on our tables each day.
- EPA is proposing revisions to the Worker Protection Standard in order to protect more than 2 million farm workers and their families from pesticide exposure.
- EPA’s revised Worker Protection Standard will afford farm workers similar health protections to those already enjoyed by workers in other jobs.
- EPA’s commonsense revisions include provisions that will ensure farm workers have access to annual safety training; prohibit children under the age of 16 from handling pesticides; and make certain that workers are aware of the protections they are afforded under the law and have the tools they need to protect themselves and their families from exposure to pesticides.
- Protecting our nation’s farm workers from pesticide exposures is at the core of EPA’s work to ensure environmental justice for all Americans.
Key Proposed Challenges:
- More frequent (annual) and expanded mandatory training will inform farm workers about the protections they are afforded under the law, including entry restrictions into pesticide-treated fields, decontamination supplies, access to information and use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Additional content includes how to reduce take-home exposure from pesticides on work clothing. (Current rule requires training every 5 years.)
- Mandatory posting of signs for the most hazardous pesticides; the signs prohibit re-entry into treated fields until residues decline to a safe level. (Current rule allows for the option of either oral or posted notification.)
- Minimum age requirement: Children under 16 will be prohibited from handling pesticides. [Note: Department of Labor requires that people who handle pesticides in toxicity categories I and II (the riskiest pesticides) to be at least 16 years old but there is no minimum age requirement to handle pesticides in toxicity categories III and IV (less risky pesticides)]. (Current rule has no minimum age requirement.)
- No-entry buffer areas surrounding the site being treated with a pesticide will protect workers and others from exposure from pesticide overspray and fumes. (Current rule has this restriction only for pesticide applications in nurseries and greenhouses, not farms and forests.)
- Improve the states’ ability to enforce compliance by requiring employers to keep records of application-specific pesticide information as well as farmworker training and early-entry notification for two years. (Current rule does not require recordkeeping.)
- PPE (respirator use) must be consistent with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration standards for ensuring respirators are providing protection, including fit test, medical evaluation and training. (Current rule does not require that respirators meet the OSHA standard.)
- Make available to farm workers or their advocates (including medical personnel) information specific to the pesticide application, including the pesticide label and Safety Data Sheets. (Current rule requires that this information is posted at a central location until 30 days after the restricted entry interval expires.)
- Provide greater information to early-entry workers – people entering a treated site before residues have reached safe levels. Information includes the specific pesticide applied, what work can be done by early-entry workers and the amount of time they can remain in the treated area. Early entry into the recently pesticide-treated site is sometimes allowed for emergency situations or other short term essential tasks. (Current rule only requires informing early-entry workers of label hazards.)
- Additional changes make the rule more practical and easier to comply with for farmers. In addition, this proposal continues the exemptions from the current rule for family farms.
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 at: http://umaine.edu/gardening/maine-home-garden-news/
Spring meetings and training offered by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension were mentioned in the Bangor Daily News article “Maine wild blueberry industry may benefit from farm bill pilot program.” Blueberry growers will gather in March, 2014 for meetings planned by the UMaine Cooperative Extension in Waldoboro, Ellsworth and Machias. The meetings will include briefings on pollination, weeds, fertilizers, regulations, diseases and pests. The article also stated the Cooperative Extension and Maine Board of Pesticides Control will conduct training in Machias to prepare growers for the private pesticide applicator core exam and the blueberry commodity exam. Both exams will be administered after the training sessions.
A study being conducted by University of Maine researchers to determine what flowers are most attractive to bees was the topic of the latest column in the Portland Press Herald’s Maine Gardener series. UMaine professors Alison Dibble, Lois Berg Stack and Frank Drummond are conducting the study at gardens in Old Town, Jonesboro and Blue Hill with the help of graduate student Eric Venturini. Honeybees have become scarcer and more expensive to bring in from out of state, which makes wild and native bees more important to commercial growers and home gardeners, according to the article.
Tree Fruit Preseason Meeting
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
8:00 AM to 4:00 PM
USM Lewiston-Auburn College, Room 170
51 Westminster Street, Lewiston, Maine 04240
Registration fee: $20 per person, or $25 per person on the day of the meeting.
This meeting will provide pest and horticultural management updates for commercial, hobbyist, large and small-scale orchardists. The agenda and registration information are posted on UMaine Cooperative Extension’s Tree Fruit website.