Concurrent Session A. Maine’s Changing Foodscape
* 2 AICP CM credits are available for this session.
Creating and maintaining sustainable food systems is a critical and growing challenge to global society. In dynamic systems like food production, consumption, and distribution, it is a challenge to manage, evaluate, and implement adaptable, accessible, and resilient practices. Across Maine’s changing foodscape, there is great work in progress to better understand these challenges and find actionable solutions. Cutting across disciplines and production chains, this session highlights some of this work from both human and biophysical perspectives, including climate change, production on land and harvests from the water, and population and economic shifts.
Associate Dean, Honors College, University of Maine
Postdoctoral Research Associate, School of Forest Resources, University of Maine
Local Food Systems Networks Working to Change Maine’s Foodscape
Renee Page MPH, CLC, PS-C
Assistant Director, Healthy Communities of the Capital Area
Coordinator, Maine Farm to School Network & Maine Farm to Institution
Purpose: The New England Food Vision presents a bold vision that calls for our region to build the capacity to produce at least 50% of clean, fair, just, and accessible food for all New Englanders by 2060. The Maine Farm to School Network (MFSN) recognizes the buying power of institutional markets to make a significant impact on the local food economy and has recently expanded its scope to include other institutional sectors like colleges, health care facilities, and prisons, through the formation of Maine Farm to Institution (MEFTI). Learn how initiatives like the MFSN, MEFTI, Maine Food Strategy, Maine Network of Community Food Councils, and more are working toward this vision utilizing strategies that are values driven, viewed through a health equity lens, and take into consideration Maine’s changing climate and population.
Results: Food based networks across Maine are working collaboratively and on their own toward this food vision by setting measurable goals, convening and engaging stakeholders, tracking metrics, doing grassroots advocacy, and more. One shining result is the University of Maine system’s commitment to purchasing 20% of its food locally by 2020.
Conclusion: Though great strides are being made in Maine toward achieving the New England Food Vision, more work needs to be done. Policies to support local food procurement, technical assistance for food producers to enter the institutional market and overcome challenges posed by climate change, and data collection and metrics to track success are needed.
Maine’s Proliferating Community Food Councils create the Maine Food Atlas
Coordinator, Maine Network of Community Food Councils
Community Food Councils have been spreading across Maine for the last 7 years, and with the formation of the Maine Network of Community Food Councils (MNCFC) this proliferation has been accelerated, with a dozen Councils serving much of Maine now. Conversations are underway that may lead to more Councils in other areas. These Councils aim to create resilient, vibrant and self-reliant local and regional food systems, so that their communities will have enduring food sovereignty and citizens will have access to healthy, local food. Councils work to increase the capacity of local level food systems efforts through collaboration, coordination and resource sharing, resulting in sustainable, sovereign food systems across the state of Maine.
This session will explore the evolution of Councils and the commitment to ongoing education about how our food system works. The Maine Food Atlas was launched by MNCFC in collaboration with the Center for Community GIS (CCGIS) as a way for Councils both understand and promote local food assets. MNCFC and CCGIS are creating an Atlas Partnership Council of Maine food organizations and networks to grow the Atlas as a diverse and robust tool for bringing our food supply back to Maine.
The session will also share stories about how Councils are moving to actions that address municipal policies, food security, enhancing local supply chains from production to food waste and related economic and environmental impacts. And efforts to integrate community efforts with the Maine Food Strategy and regional work like Food Solutions New England.
Maine Aquaculture: Leading The Way In The Development of Sustainable Water Farming Practices
Maine Aquaculture Association
Aquaculture, the farming of animals and plants in water, is the fastest growing food production method in the world. In 2014 aquaculture production for human consumption exceeded wild fisheries production for the first time in history. While production of food in water has a number of inherent efficiencies significant environmental impacts may occur if farming methods do not take into account local ecological carrying capacities. Water quality and the potential impacts by farming methods are central to the sustainable food production in aquatic ecosystems.
Maine’s aquaculture sector is experiencing significant growth and is unusually diverse in terms of the products and farming methods used. Over the last thirty years Maine’s aquatic farmers have pioneered the development of a series of Best Management Practices designed to recognize the linkage between their farms and the environment in which they operate. Many of those BMP’s have been recognized nationally and internationally as some of the most effective and progressive water farming methods currently used. The methods for the development and verification of effective BMP’s are outlined. In particular the issues of farmer buy-in, BMP design, and core elements of effective BMP implementation are discussed.
Clams in Crisis: Field Research Tells Us Why and Shows Us How to Adapt
Downeast Institute for Applied Marine Research & Education
Soft-shell (“steamer”) clams, Mya arenaria, are an economically and socially valuable fishery as well as a culturally important and nutritious local food source; however, predation, spurred by warming ocean waters, has taken a toll on this iconic species. Recently, clammers from the Maine Clammers Association sounded the alarm about the dramatic increase of invasive green crab, Carcinus maenas, populations in Casco Bay and the corresponding decrease in soft-shell clam populations. In 2014, the Downeast Institute for Applied Marine Research & Education (DEI) and the University of Maine at Machias launched a large-scale field research program to examine the effectiveness of different methods to protect shellfish from green crabs and other predators, and how to restore soft-shell clam populations. Since 2014, the project has deployed nineteen different field experiments to this end. The results of the experiments show that predation is the most important factor causing the decline of soft-shell clams. Unfortunately, it does not appear possible to reduce crab populations locally through trapping. Given that Gulf of Maine ocean water temperatures are predicted to continue to rise and that green crabs thrive in warmer waters, it is critical that we quickly implement clam protection projects in order to adapt to the changing ecosystem. Through the adoption of active, ecology-based shellfish management we can work together to maintain and preserve the fishery and food source into the future for the benefit of all Mainers.