Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Farm Scoop February 2013

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

by Richard Brzozowski, Extension Educator, Cumberland County and Tori Jackson, Extension Educator, Androscoggin & Sagadahoc Counties

Farm Service Agency Announces Important Program Updates

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds producers that the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 extended the authorization of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (the 2008 Farm Bill) for many Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) commodity, disaster, and conservation programs through 2013. FSA administers these programs.

The extended programs include, among others: the Direct and Counter-Cyclical Payment Program (DCP), the Average Crop Revenue Election Program (ACRE), and the Milk Income Loss Contract Program (MILC). FSA is preparing the following actions:

  • FSA will begin sign-ups for DCP and ACRE for the 2013 crops on Feb. 19, 2013. The DCP sign-up period will end on Aug. 2, 2013; the ACRE sign-up period will end on June 3, 2013.

The 2013 DCP and ACRE program provisions are unchanged from 2012, except that all eligible participants in 2013 may choose to enroll in either DCP or ACRE for the 2013 crop year. This means that eligible producers who were enrolled in ACRE in 2012 may elect to enroll in DCP in 2013 or may re-enroll in ACRE in 2013 (and vice versa). All dairy producers’ MILC contracts are automatically extended to Sept. 30, 2013. Eligible producers therefore do not need to re-enroll in MILC. Specific details regarding certain modifications to MILC will be released soon.

FSA will provide producers with information on program requirements, updates and signups as the information becomes available. Any additional details will be posted on FSA’s Web site.

2013 Maine Vegetable & Fruit School

The 2013 Maine Vegetable & Fruit School will be held Tuesday, March 12, at Seasons Conference Center in Portland, and on Wednesday, March 13, at the Bangor Motor Inn. Preregistration is requested no later than February 25, 2013.

Topics include:

  • Storage Crops and Post Harvest Considerations
  • Determining Your Storage Needs and Designing a Solution
  • Produce Cooling and Storage by Design at Laughingstock Farm
  • Storing Vegetables at Checkerberry Farm
  • Marketing Winter Crops at Six River Farm
  • Spotted Wing Drosophila Quiz
  • A Virtual Visit to Jordan’s Farm
  • Marketing to Your Community at Jordan’s Farm
  • Should Strawberries be on Your Menu?
  • Using Compost: The Good, Bad and Ugly
  • New Pest Update: Spotted Wing Drosophila, Stink Bugs, Cutworms, Borers and Moths

The fee is $35.00 and includes lunch. Participants may receive 1 Pesticide Applicator recertification credit, and Certified Crop Advisors may earn 5 recertification credits. More information, including how to register, is posted on the Highmoor Farm Web site.

New Microloans Expand Small Farm Finance Options

FSA to Help Beginning and Small Farmers

New and beginning farmers in Maine now have an agricultural Microloan credit option to consider. As of Jan. 15, 2013, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will offer its customers a Microloan designed to help farmers with credit needs of $35,000 or less. The loan features a streamlined application and a simplified qualification process built to fit the needs of new and smaller producers.

“This innovative offering will be more customer-friendly than our larger, more traditional loan programs,” said Farm Loan Manager Mike Dennison. “Farms seeking a smaller loan for start-up or operational needs now have a great new tool to consider. For those selling at Farmers’ Markets or through community-supported agriculture operations (CSAs), a Microloan might serve their needs perfectly,” Dennison continued, “and the reduced paperwork associated with the new Microloan will help expedite the process for everyone.”

In FY2012, the Farm Service Agency provided approximately $13.2 million in farm loan assistance to agricultural producers of all sizes in Maine. That year, operating loans accounted for the majority of the loans extended (126), while farm ownership loans were fewer (20).

“The interest rate of 1.25 percent on the new FSA Microloan is also a great benefit for farmers who are just starting out, in need of capital and on a tight budget,” according to FLM Dennison. “Producers in every Maine county can contact their nearest FSA office for details and to determine if they qualify for a Microloan.” The Microloan term can be up to seven years.

In response to tighter financial markets, USDA has expanded the availability of farm credit, helping farmers refinance loans across the U.S. Since 2009, USDA has provided more than 128,000 loans to family farmers totaling more than $18 billion. Over 50 percent of the loans went to beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. For more information on Microloans and other FSA programs, please contact your local USDA service center.

Scaling Up for Small Farm Profitability – Ready To Gross Up To $100,000 A Year?

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the Androscoggin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District are offering a five-workshop series covering the following topics:

  • Marketing Your Farm Products
  • Animal Health Issues
  • Livestock Regulations and Production Practices
  • General Soil Health, IPM and Pesticide Safety
  • High Tunnel Basics

These weekly workshop sessions will begin February 26 and end March 26, 2013. The workshops will be held at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Office, 24 Main Street, Lisbon Falls. The cost is $75 per person to attend all five sessions or $20 per person for any individual session. The Small Farmer Workshop Flyer, and registration forms are available at the Androscoggin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District Web site.



Master Gardener Volunteers Benefit Plant Sale

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener Volunteers are offering a “Grow it Right!” plant sale to raise funds for its Master Gardener Volunteers program. Money raised will help fund Master Gardener Volunteer projects and provide scholarships for Master Gardener course fees.

Both blueberry bushes and asparagus crowns are available for order. You can learn more and place your order online!

Advanced Intermediate Beekeeping School

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

New this year, the Advanced Intermediate Beekeeping School is designed for accomplished beekeepers with five-plus years of experience, or those who have already taken Intermediate Bee School. Completion of an Intermediate Beekeeping School or instructor permission is a prerequisite for this course.

When: Tuesdays, February 26-March 26, 2013, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Where: University of Southern Maine, 209 Payson Smith Hall, Portland

Fee: $120/per person

Register and find more information online, or contact Lois Elwell, or call 207-781-6099.


Master Gardener Volunteer Training January 2013!

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

A 15-week course for those interested in becoming certified Master Gardener Volunteers will be offered by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension at the Androscoggin-Sagadahoc Counties office located at 24 Main Street in Lisbon Falls beginning in March 2013. Extension Educator Tori Jackson will collaborate with experts from around the state to present basic ornamental horticulture and volunteer training. Sessions will be held Thursday evenings from 6:00-9:00 PM beginning on March 7, 2013. Enrollment will be capped at 20. The deadline to request an application is January 4, 2013, and applications must be received by January 21, 2013. The course fee is on a sliding scale from $110-$330. A limited number of scholarships are available. For more information or to request an application, contact KymNoelle Sposato or call 207-353-5550.

University of Maine Cooperative Extension programs are open and accessible to all in accordance with program goals.


Agritourism 101

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Photo by Edwin Remsberg

Agritourism 101

An Introduction to Growing Tourism on the Farm

Presented by Marc Edwards, Agritourism Professional, University of Maine Cooperative Extension

Developing agritourism on the farm can generate potentially significant supplemental income.  This program is intended for new and existing farmers not currently  engaging in agritourism activities, but who may be considering developing agritourism on their farms. It will bring awareness of agritourism opportunities and the potential for farmers to benefit from developing agritourism on their farms.  After attending this program, participants will have a general understanding of agritourism, and be able to identify at least one potential agritourism activity on their farm. Participants will also be able to identify the first three basic steps towards developing agritourism on their farm.

When: Thursday, November 8, 2012   6:30 – 8:00 pm

Where: UMaine Extension Androscoggin-Sagadahoc Counties Office, 24 Main Street, Lisbon Falls ME 04252

Cost: $25 and includes materials

To register or for more information, or to request special accommodations, contact KymNoelle Sposato or call (207) 353-5550 or (800) 287-1458 (in Maine). You can find full details of all events on the Events Calendar.

University of Maine is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action institution. To provide adequate time to respond to your request please provide as much notice as possible.




Maine Farms for the Future Program

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Maine Farms for the Future Program – Round 12 – Phase 1 Business Plan Development

The notice for Maine Farms for the Future Program – Round 12 – Phase 1 Business Development grants has been published. All potential applicants must contact Stephanie Gilbert, RFP Coordinator, to request the official RFP.  The RFP can, also, be requested by mail to Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Maine Farms for the Future Program – Room 314, 28 SHS, Augusta, ME, 04333- 0028. The Department encourages all interested vendors to obtain a copy of the RFP and submit a competitive proposal.The deadline for application is 2:00 PM local time, Tuesday October 16th, 2012.

A sample RFP will soon be available on the State of Maine’s Web site. Questions about the process must be submitted to Stephanie Gilbert  no later than Thursday, September 27, 5:00 p.m. local time.


4-H Science Experiment Series

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Come join us for the 4-H Science Experiment Series, being held Tuesdays, October 2nd – November 6th, starting at 4:00 p.m. at the Patten Free Library in Bath, ME.

October 2nd – Join in the 2012 National Science Experiment 4-H Eco-Bot Challenge, and explore how robots can be used to preserve and protect the environment, while taking a glimpse into the future of science, technology, engineering and math

October 9thThink Like a Scientist and participate in a secret egg carrying mission

October 16thDiscover Form and Function and practice your engineering skills.

October 23rd – Engineer and design in this exciting Catapult Building Challenge

October 30thSense of Balance – Use the skills from building a catapult to build your own balance beams

November 6thArm in Arm Building – build a robotic arm.

The 4-H Science Experiment Series is:

  • Open to youth ages 5-18 years old (youth ages 5-10 must be accompanied by an adult to participate)
  • Geared to all levels so no prior robot experience is needed
  • Free and materials for the experiment will be provided

Pre-register with Carol at the Patten Free Library, 33 Summer Street, in Bath.

For more information about the experiment, contact Sarah Sparks or call (207) 353-5550 or (800) 287-1458 (in Maine), TDD: 1-800-287-8957. Information is also available at the UMaine Extension Events Calendar.

UMaine Extension programs are open and accessible to all in accordance with program goals. Any person with a disability who needs accommodations for this program should contact Sarah Sparks at 1-800-287-1458 to discuss their needs. Receiving requests for accommodations at least ten days before the program provides a reasonable amount of time to meet the request, however all requests will be accepted.

Oak Hill Middle School Cooking Class

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

The Cookinaters

University of Maine Cooperative Extension Eat Well Nutrition Education Program helped 15 kids in 6th through 8th grade learn the benefit of healthy nutrition. Each group (The Flying Bad Bakers and The Cookinaters) developed a meal for the final class (entree, sides, beverage and dessert) that focused on USDA’s MyPlate. They were judged on their meals, knife/cooking safety, teamwork, communication, and leadership. Five teachers, including their principle, participated and judged the meals and cast votes.

UMaine Extension Nutrition Associate Courtney Davis reported that both teams did OUTSTANDING; however The Cookinaters won the vote!

The meals that were prepared are as follows:

The Flying Bad Bakers: Turkey Tacos with lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers, low-fat sour cream, shredded cheese on a whole wheat tortilla. They also included kidney beans and their own taco sauce in the ground turkey! They made a cranberry lime fizz drink and a fruit salad (apples, pineapples, strawberries, blueberries, and bananas) for dessert!

The Cookinaters: Multi-grain pasta with homemade spaghetti sauce, homemade turkey meatballs, and garlic bread from scratch. They also prepared a salad with a homemade Italian dressing. They made fruit smoothies and a fruit platter with a yogurt, honey cinnamon dip.

The Flying Bad Bakers' meal (click on the image to see an enlargement)

The Cookinaters' winning meal (click on the image to see an enlargement)

Sabattus Primary School Youth Learn How to “Eat Your Colors”

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

University of Maine Cooperative Extension Eat Well Nutrition Education Program, Nutrition Associate Courtney Davis worked with youth Pre-K through 2nd grade at the Sabattus Primary School this May during their Wellness Week to teach them about the importance of eating from all the food groups, physical activity and trying new fruits and vegetables.

Photos show the youths’ artwork on the five food groups, demonstrating how you “Eat Your Colors” and what they learned about eating well. (Click on the images to view enlargements.)

kids in front of their drawings

Eat Your Colors drawing Eat Your Colors drawing Eat Your Colors drawing

GardenPro Workshop for Retailers

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

The spring sales season is just around the corner … soon customers will bring their gardening questions to you. Providing good information to your customers is a great way to improve their gardening knowledge AND make them want to return to your business again and again.

GardenPro (the program) and the GardenPro Answer Book (the publication) are both designed to help you answer questions like:

  • What can I plant on my septic field?
  • How can I get rid of moss in my lawn?
  • What should I plant to attract pollinators?
  • How should I plant this tree?
  • Why did my plant wilt?
  • What’s wrong with my plant?

… and more

Interested? GardenPro (the program) will be held at Longfellow’s Greenhouses in Manchester on Thursday, March 29, 2012. The cost is $10, including lunch. Registration is limited to 50 people; preregistration is required by March 26. More information, including registration and ordering the GardenPro book, is available online or by calling Meghan Dill 207.581.3878.

UMaine Extension programs are open and accessible to all in accordance with program goals. To provide adequate time to respond to your request please provide as much notice as possible.