Road to Solutions — Forestry, Agriculture & Food Systems

Stacked logs

Food Waste Management: Empowering Maine Businesses Toward Sustainability

The Mitchell Center’s Materials Management team has brought together a diverse group of waste management stakeholders to collaboratively imagine how the state might make more progress toward its waste reduction and recycling goals, with the single most important issue for ensuring a more sustainable system being the reduction of food waste and getting organics out of the landfill.

Helping Maine Farmers Succeed in a Changing Climate

University of Maine Cooperative Extension members and the State Climatologist are working on a new project with farmers in Maine. The goal is to listen to farmer needs around weather information and farm management decision support tools, and discuss future capabilities in light of Maine’s changing climate.

Assessing the Climate Mitigation Potential of Maine Agriculture

Farming practices that promote “soil health” can make farms more productive, profitable, and resilient to climate change impacts. Additionally, some soil health building practices—for example, cover cropping, reducing tillage, and biochar application—can contribute to greenhouse gas mitigation. There is growing interest in state and regional policies to incentivize soil health building practices, but to inform these policy efforts, a baseline assessment is needed.

The Emergent Risks of Food Waste Recovery: Characterizing the Contaminants in Municipal Solid Waste

To approach a more sustainable food system in the United States, our system must become more energy, water and material-efficient. The ideal model is a circular food system that eliminates waste by returning nutrients to agricultural soils while minimizing water and energy use. As we move towards organic waste recovery and nutrient recycling, we must plan for emerging risks that may compromise the safety of a more circular food system.

Mitigating Environmental-Human Determinants of Tickborne Disease Risk in Acadia National Park

Resource stewardship in parks and natural areas encompasses promoting both healthy ecosystems and healthy visitors. In Acadia National Park (ANP), millions of tourists and outdoor enthusiasts per year are at risk of exposure to a suite of pathogens transmitted by hard-bodied ticks.

Food Waste Reduction

The ultimate goal of the Diana Davis Spencer Partnership for a Sustainable Maine is to develop, implement and evaluate solutions to complex problems requiring a careful balance between economic development and environmental preservation. The central element of the project’s solutions strategy is to inspire and equip a new generation of engaged, entrepreneurial citizens by providing students with transformative, hands-on experiences in the power of innovative partnerships to create a brighter future.  

Maine Farm to Institution Food Project

One of the most important questions facing the local food movement in Maine is how to make it sustainable—environmentally, economically, and socially. A major approach has been to promote a farm-to-institution (F2I) movement whereby farms will be able to sell their produce to local institutions such as universities and hospitals, and reduce environmental costs through these local supply chains.

Cheesemaking in Maine

A sustainable agricultural system must do many things, including satisfying human food needs, contributing to biofuel needs, enhancing environmental quality, and, sustaining the economic viability of agriculture.

Improving Weed Management on Organic Farms

This project is developing a decision-aid tool to improve the economic sustainability of Maine organic farmers through improved weed management. Stakeholders will be included in the development of this tool and will also help publicize the finished product.

Mobilizing to Fight the Emerald Ash Borer

The invasive emerald ash borer could decimate Maine’s ash trees—and jeopardize the livelihoods of Maine’s Indian basket makers, who rely on the tree for their time-honored craft…

Engaging Maine Blueberry Growers to Develop Tools for Native Bee Use and Conservation

Native bee conservation has become a pressing need. With honeybees, long the crop pollinator workhorse, on the decline, researchers are working with farmers to see if they can conserve and bolster Maine’s native bee populations…

Sustainability of widespread forest certification and the Maine Forest Practices Act

The sustainability of Maine’s forest industry is of critical interest to multiple stakeholders within the state. Both industry advocates, as well as environmentalists, have a vested interest in ensuring that practices in the state enable forests and forest management activities to persist into the future.

Sustainable Food Systems Research Collaborative

Creating and maintaining sustainable food systems is a critical and growing challenge to global society. The impacts of population growth, demographic shifts, climate change, and income inequality are felt throughout the food system at all levels. Maine ranks first in New England in food insecurity—23.9% of Maine’s children are food insecure…

Enhancing Dialogue Between Wild Blueberry Growers and Researchers

Wild blueberry production is very important to Maine’s natural resource economy. Management of a natural resource always affects the environment and so it should be a high priority that management of this wild crop is performed sustainably, both ecologically and economically…

Past Projects

Mapping a Sustainable Future
Major forces are altering Maine’s communities and landscape. Over the past 15 years, development pressure has intensified in the southern part of the state, and millions of acres of forest have changed hands in the north…

Understanding An Insect Threat to Maine’s Hemlock Trees
Once limited by extreme cold, the invasive hemlock wooly adelgid (HWA) is spreading north in Maine in the wake of recent mild winters. First reported in southern Maine in 1999, this destructive insect is advancing along the coast and has also been found on Mount Desert Island….

Evaluating Interactions Between Wild Turkeys and Maine Agriculture
Historically, wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) existed in significant numbers in Maine.  By the early 1800’s wild turkeys in Maine were extirpated due to unrestricted hunting and intensive agricultural practices resulting in the reduction of forested land…

People, Landscape and Communities (PLACE)
More than a third of Maine—nearly six million acres—is owned by small landowners in parcels of 1 to 1,000 acres. Their decisions about managing their land affect not only their own welfare; they collectively influence Maine’s communities, broader landscape, and quality and sense of place..