Two Programs to Support Beginning Farmers

The Farmer’s Edge

A 10-week, on-line business course designed to give farmers the skills and tools needed to cultivate financially sustainable businesses. Whether they struggle to understand the basic economics of their business or just want to increase their farm’s profitability, this course is for them!

Group sessions begin in December 2018 and meet on-line for 2 hours each week. The first hour is devoted to a specific business topic, such as QuickBooks or Cash Flow Budgeting. The second hour is an open discussion for participants to ask specific questions about their businesses. This format combines the benefits of a business workshop and one-on-one technical assistance, with the added value of peer-learning.

At the end of the course participants will have:

  • A straightforward bookkeeping system designed to help them manage their business
  • A cash flow budget and the tools to make sure they stay on track
  • Systems for understanding all the costs in their business
  • A strategy to grow their business profitability in the coming years
  • Financial analysis to decide where to focus their time and money.

In other words, they will have a plan to increase profits!

I’m offering an “early bird” discount for folks who register by November 15th.  More details can be found on my website.

If you would like to offer scholarships for farmers who couldn’t otherwise afford this class, let me know.

The Farmer’s Office – Online

The Farmer’s Office – Online is a self-paced, online course; a video version of my book, The Farmer’s Office. For farmers who learn better by watching (rather than reading), this is the tool for them. It offers 13 video courses, from QuickBooks to Cash Flow Budgeting to Reaching Financial Statements.

In addition, farmers can get live support by attending the regular live webinarsas well as “office hours“.

At the end of the program, participants will have the skills and tools needed to confidently grow their business and improve profitability.

If you would like to offer your clients/farmers access, send me an email and we can discuss volume pricing.

Posted in Events | Leave a comment

Maine Harvest Credit Project Raises $2.4 Million in Start-up Grant Capital

As of August, 31, 2018, the Maine Harvest Credit Project completed raising the necessary $2.4 Million in startup grant capital. The last commitment, from the Maine Credit Union League brought them right to the mark.  They are very appreciative of the League’s support and advice throughout the process.

Commitments came from a wide range of donors:  Maine Foundations, individual donors, a USDA Grant and support from the Maine Credit Union League.  All have seen the value of creating an institution for a better food system in Maine.

Maine Harvest Credit Project has also submitted their primary Federal Regulatory Application.  At almost 1,000 pages, it was a major effort.  Now they look forward to a few more regulatory hoops and hopefully opening their doors in 2019.


Posted in In The News | Leave a comment

Maine Grain Alliance Grant Opportunities

The Maine Grain Alliance seeks applications to award mini-grants of $250 – $1,000 to fund need-based technical assistance (TA) and equipment that will help grain-based business owners secure economic opportunities in Maine.

Grain-based business owners and entrepreneurs demonstrating financial need are welcome to apply. The Maine Grain Alliance is especially interested in assisting participants, presenters, panelists, work-study students, and scholarship recipients of the Kneading Conference which has been held annually since 2007.

The Maine Grain Alliance is a 501c3 non-profit organization. This technical assistance grant program is made possible by the generous support of Skowhegan Savings and Allagash Brewing Company.

Please email completed proposals to:

Application Deadline: December 1st, 5:00 pm

Awards Announcement: Late December

Your Application should not exceed 2 pages in length. Please include information on the following:

Brief Business Overview

Brief description of TA/Equipment need

Identified TA provider, scope of work and timeline

TA provider hourly rate

Total cost of TA or Equipment (if a grant from MGA will not cover the full cost of the TA, please indicate how the balance of the cost will be covered)

Posted in Grant opportunities | Leave a comment

Job Opening: Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust Coordinator

We are excited to announce forward movement on a land trust committed to land reparations and repatriation for Indigenous, Black, Latinx, and Asian farmers and earthkeepers in the Northeast. Please see the job description below and also on the web here.

Position: Land Trust Coordinator

Job Description: The Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust works to advance land sovereignty in the northeast regionthrough permanent, secure land tenure for Indigenous, Black, Latinx, and Asian farmers and land stewards who use the land in a sacred manner that honors our ancestors dreams – for regenerative farming, sustainable human habitat, ceremony, native ecosystem restoration, and cultural preservation.

Overview: The Land Trust Coordinatoris responsible for managing all aspects of administration, programs, and community organizing during the start up phase of the land trust. The NEFOC membership is ready to support with the implementation of specific tasks in collaboration with the Coordinator. This position can be filled by one person, full time, or by two people as a part-time job share. The coordinator needs to live in (or relocate to) one of the New England states or upstate NY. Job is initially a work-from-home and in-the-community position.


Posted in Job announcement | Leave a comment

FarmSmart Business Services offers NxLevel™ Tilling the Soil of Opportunity

Are you ready to restrategize your farm’s business model?


Then it’s time to “press the pause button” and finally give yourself time to refresh your thinking, conduct research, and make positive changes to your business model.
This winter, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry – Maine Farms for the Future Program and Jed Beach of FarmSmart Business Services will offer NxLevel™ Tilling the Soil of Opportunity, a business planning course tailored for Maine farmers.
Registration is now open – click here to register

This six session course will help you to:

  • Update your business goals, and compare where you are now vs. where you want to be.
  • Establish which crops are helping you reach your goals – and which are not.
  • Evaluate new and potential markets.
  • Improve your time and people management skills.
  • Develop a crop plan that gets you to your goals.
  • Evaluate potential financing opportunities and identify your best options.
  • Write your new business plan – and then make it a reality!

You will hear stories from practicing farmers and guest speakers who are experts in agricultural business, production and marketing. And, you’ll have the opportunity to network with other experienced growers, including farmers in the Maine Farms for the Future Program.
Course Location
All sessions will be offered at the Kennebec Valley Community College Farm Center in Clinton.  The classroom space accommodates multiple farm/family members if they wish to attend.
Most of the sessions will also be available via remote internet access.
All sessions will include two 15-minute breaks and ½ hour catered lunch to allow plenty of networking opportunities with all participants.

Session Details and Dates (Click each session for detailed course descriptions):
Session # 1: Where You Are Now Vs. Where You Want to Be
 December 12, 2018
Session #2: Finances and Production January 16 2019
Session #3: Marketing​ January 23, 2019
Session #4: Cultivating Your Farm Team February 6, 2019
Session #5: Putting It All Together: Crops, Customers, and Timing February 13, 2019
Session #6: Your Strategic Plan for Growth, Investment, Finance, and Retirement February 27, 2019
See a topic you like, but don’t want to attend the whole workshop?  You can also sign up for individual sessions.

Posted in Events | Leave a comment

SMM Minutes October 3, 2018

Our first SMM gathering since Spring brought together a varied group of familiar and new network participants. In Bonnie’s opening remarks, she shared the especially difficult aspects of summer for producers, including drought and workforce issues, cancelled milk contracts, along with financing and facility development needs. Though she reiterated the daunting aspects of creating a new food economy in the grip of an industrialized, corporate-driven food system, along with the heavy issues of politics, climate change, and economics, Bonnie took time to honor some of the brighter moments of the season. She honored Sam May and Scott Budde for their dedicated commitment to finally reach their $2mm+ goal for the Maine Harvest Credit Union, which can now move closer to completing application details and hopefully open for business by the middle of next year. She also acknowledged Jonah Fertig and the Somali Bantu farmers who had their grand opening of a food truck in Lewiston last weekend with great community response. Other notable event included new SMM videos, focused on investment clubs, grain growing collaborations, and local fisheries. She also mentioned herself being honored as one of Maine Magazine’s “50 Mainers” and the upcoming celebration at St. Joseph’s College.

Bonnie also offered some perspectives about our choices in foods we buy and eat as agricultural, political, and social acts. These choices obviously have economic, spiritual, and health impacts as well. She shared a story from Eleanor Kinney who regularly attends meetings in Portland related to the environment. When she observed that food served had no connection to local producers, she mentioned it to her meeting hosts and in a fairly short time, the organizations switched catering services to Local Sprouts, a worker-owned co-operative in Portland that features local and organic products. Many of us can make a tangible difference in awareness and actions related to a healthy food system so she encouraged everyone to do so.

Focus Group:   New Ways of Doing Business: Jonah/ CDI – Co-ops, Merritt Carey/Luke’s Lobster – B Corps

Main Presenters:

Mike Gold/Crave Food Systems
Crave Food Systems is a food tech company building software and hardware that has the ability to positively affect local economies and enable our food system to become more dependent on food their own community can produce. Crave’s core technology, WhatsGood, is an eCommerce marketplace that connects buyers with local food vendors, growers, and artisans. The platform supports local food ecosystems by evolving the way consumers and purchasers find and purchase from their local sources. WhatsGood is currently connecting buyers looking for local food with producers in over 40 states and has helped them sell more than $1m. WhatsGood enables more than 200 farmers markets nationally, to have custom branded eCommerce mobile applications.

Mike Gold/Crave Food Systems
Telephone:(401) 302-4173

Crave Food System Presentation

 Anne Chase/Chase Stream Farm

Tim and Anne Devin are retired U.S. Marines with nearly 50 years of active duty service between them.  They have lived and served overseas and across the United States in both peace and wartime.  In 2016, drawn to the challenge and healing powers of agriculture, they established Chase Stream Farm in Monroe, Maine.

Their new venture, AGROW Academy, is the next step in providing aspiring military veteran growers and farmers the education and training they need to manage or to successfully launch their own sustainable farming enterprise.

AGROW Academy will arm its students with knowledge, skills, and abilities in the core competencies of:

  • Organic vegetable and fruit production
  • Poultry operations – broilers and layers
  • Livestock – sheep and pigs
  • Beekeeping
  • Maple Syrup production
  • Value-added food production
  • Farm business skills

Curriculum development and student housing are the next steps in equipping military veterans to help reverse the trend of large-scale ecologically and sociologically unsustainable industrial mass food production.

Anne Devin, Owner/Operator
Chase Stream Farm


Chase Stream Farm – AGROW Presentation

Colles Stowell/One Fish Foundation

One Fish Foundation is a 501(c)3 whose mission is to bring the sustainable seafood message into classrooms and communities via engaged discussions so consumers of all ages more closely consider their impact on marine ecosystems, the seafood they eat, and the fishermen who harvest it.

One Fish Foundation has grown steadily since its inception in 2015. We develop relationships with teachers to map sustainable seafood conservation messages to where students are in their curricula. These students bring the message into their communities about why people should care where, when, how and by whom their seafood was harvested. They learn how the Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 99% of the oceans on the planet, and how this affects everything from green crabs to lobster. Regardless of age, increasing the number of educated consumers can help change the dynamic that 90% of the seafood eaten in the U.S. is imported.

One Fish Foundation incorporates hands-on experiences in the classroom. Elementary and middle school students handle different commercial fishing gear types, ranging from gill net to a turtle excluder device while discussing the ecological impact of different harvest methods.

High school students dive into climate change impacts on seafood, handling live European green crabs while learning how such invasive species impact local ecosystems, and the affect of warming waters and ocean acidification on lobster populations and other seafood. With college students, we discuss more in-depth climate change impacts such as current change and glacial melt, along with seafood policy and socio-economic factors.

We also host sustainable seafood dinners in which attendees get to talk to the fishermen who harvested the seafood they are eating to broaden their perspective on why their choices matter.

We can change that 90% import statistic, one conversation at a time.

Colles Stowell
One Fish Foundation
(603) 674-9620

Merritt Carey/Maine Aquaculture Cooperative

The Maine Aquaculture Co-op (Co-op) is Maine’s first aquaculture cooperative, with a board and membership comprised of Maine fishermen and aquaculturists. We seek to expand Maine’s seafood-producing industries through the thoughtful integration of fishing and farming, to diversify income opportunities for Maine fishermen, maintain our robust working waterfront, and strengthen our coastal communities. By working cooperatively, we are better able to solve technical difficulties, share best practices and resources, and leverage buying and marketing power.

The Maine Aquaculture Co-op was formed under Maine’s Fish Marketing Association law, intended to promote, foster and encourage the intelligent and orderly marketing of fish and fishery products through cooperation; to eliminate speculation and waste; to make the distribution of fish and fishery products between producer and consumer as direct as can be efficiently done; and to stabilize the marketing of fish and fishery products.

Maine Aquaculture Co-op
Box 486, 12 Commercial Street
Tenants Harbor, Maine 04860
Merritt Carey:

Maine Aquaculture Cooperative Presentation


Betsy Garrold/Food for Maine’s Future

Bri Warner/Ocean Approved

Claude Rwaganje/Prosperity Maine


Posted in Meeting Minutes | Leave a comment

Community, Our Economy: Economic Democracy for Maine; November 10th

Our Community, Our Economy:
Economic Democracy for Maine
 Join us on November 10th in Augusta

46 University Dr, Augusta, ME 04330

“What would it look like if we had an economy that put people and environment before corporate profits?”

On Saturday, November 10 we will gather together to create a new vision for democracy and Maine ’s economy. “Our Community, Our Economy: Economic Democracy for Maine” is a conference that will include a wide-ranging discussion of issues working toward the ideals and ideas of Economic Democracy. Moving from broad visions, we will develop practical actions and strategies.

We will seek to connect many of the grassroots organizations, activist-minded academics, social and economic justice movements, Native people, immigrant organizations, environmental and sustainability movements, labor and worker organizations, grassroots political activists, cooperatives, land trusts, local food organizations, barter and trade networks and other people’s movements representing communities whose voice is not often heard in the mainstream.

We want to popularize the values and goals of their work as necessary ingredients to change the world of corporate capitalism to an economics of the people. We will use multiple intersectional participatory learning formats to explore cooperatives, local investment circles, community land trusts, divestment campaigns, food and water sovereignty, barter networks, time banking, alliance building, and more.

Let’s create an economy and environment for Maine people by beginning a dialogue on what we want our economy to be, who we want it to serve, and HOW to get there. Join us on Saturday, November 10th in Augusta.

To register for the conference, please click here. We will update the website as the program for the conference is fleshed out and send regular updates to those who register. For more information please contact us at or call Larry at (207) 262-3706.

Posted in Events | Leave a comment

“So, You Want to Farm in Maine?” Course Now Offered

A course to equip participants with the knowledge and skills to start, adapt, and maintain a profitable land-based business.

Learn more about the program

Woman farmer standing in feild with a full tray of fresh lettuceThis multi-session course is designed for people who want to start a profitable farm or expand their farm hobby to a profitable business.

Successful completion of this course qualifies participants for FSA Borrower Training Credit.

Textbook: Starting and Running Your Own Small Farm Business by Sara Aubrey

Cost: $50 per person* (includes textbook)

*Except where indicated below


  • ­Participants will feel comfortable starting a land-based business.
  • ­Participants will understand the need for and have a framework for a business plan.
  • ­Participants will select and use a record keeping system.
  • ­Participants will understand how to use Cooperative Extension and other agencies as a resource for their land-based business.
  • ­Participants will understand the importance of and basics of marketing their products, including customer surveys.


October 2, 9, 16, and 23, 2018
1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Register Online

UMaine Extension Penobscot County
307 Maine Avenue, Bangor, ME
Instructors: Donna Coffin, Extension Educator, Erin Roche, Crop Insurance Education Program Manager, and Kathy Hopkins, Extension Educator, UMaine Extension

October 9, 16, 23, 30, and November 6, 2018
5:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Register Online

UMaine Extension Cumberland County
75 Clearwater Drive, Suite 104, Falmouth, ME
Instructors: Jason Lilley, Sustainable Agriculture Professional, Tori Jackson, Extension Educator: Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Frank Wertheim, Extension Educator, Agriculture/Horticulture, UMaine Extension

November 1, 8, 15, and 29, 2018
5:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Register Online

Gardiner Area High School (through Gardiner Adult Ed.)
40 W Hill Rd, Gardiner, ME
Instructors: Caragh Fitzgerald, Associate Extension Professor, Agriculture, and Rick Kersbergen, Extension Professor, Sustainable Dairy and Forage Systems, UMaine Extension
*Cost is $59 (includes textbook)

November 5, 8, 13, and 15, 2018
1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Register Online
UMaine Extension Washington County
28 Center Street, Machias, ME
Instructors: Lily Calderwood, UMaine Wild Blueberry Specialist and Assistant Professor of Horticulture, and Marjorie Peronto, Extension Educator, UMaine Extension

November 6, 13, 20 and 27, 2018
1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Register Online

UMaine Extension Aroostook County — Presque Isle
Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) 735 Main Street, Presque Isle, ME
Instructors: Suhkwinder Bali, Assistant Extension Professor and Assistant Professor of Sustainable Agriculture, and Linda Tricky, Agricultural Assistant, UMaine Extension

For more information or a reasonable accommodation, contact Lynne Hazelton at 207.781.6099 or 1.800.287.1471 (in Maine) or

Posted in Events | Leave a comment

Top Gun Program Coming to Central Maine

Top Gun Program Coming to Central Maine

The Harold Alfond Institute for Business Innovation at Thomas College, in partnership with the Central Maine Growth Council, is pleased to announce that it will host a “Top Gun” program starting in early 2019 for entrepreneurs in Kennebec and Somerset Counties, as well as in the communities of Burnham, Unity, Thorndike, Freedom and Troy, who are involved in agriculture and specialty food and beverage businesses. 

Program Details:

  • The program consists of a cohort of between 8 to 10 businesses.
  • The cohort of businesses meet on a weekly basis and are provided with top-level instruction, networking and mentorship over a 15-week duration.
  • Industry and topic experts are brought in weekly to work with participants.
  • Participating entrepreneurs will work toward developing a business pitch that they will deliver in a friendly competition with their cohort.
  • Two entrepreneurs will be selected to compete in the state’s Top Gun 
  • Showcase business pitch competition at the end of the program for the grand prize of $25,000.

The program is offered at a significant discount of $500 due to sponsorships from the Small Business Administration and the Harold Alfond Institute for Business Innovation at Thomas College.

Take the next step:

Entrepreneurs that are within the geographic area, that are pursuing businesses in the agriculture and specialty food and beverage sectors and that would like to take their business to the next level, should go to to submit an application for selection into the program. Applications are being taken until November 15, 2018.

For more information or for assistance in applying, interested entrepreneurs can also contact Mike Duguay at the Harold Alfond Institute for Business Innovation at 207-859-1151 or at 

Posted in Events | Leave a comment

Fair Food Business Boot Camp

Fair Food Network’s Fair Food Fund is investing in entrepreneurs that are transforming the business of food from farms to families. We pair financing and business assistance—two critical needs—to catalyze the success of good food entrepreneurs in their communities and beyond. Our investments—including loans, royalty financing, convertible debt, and equity investments—meet entrepreneurs where they are and take them where they want to go.  Financing is bolstered with business assistance—whether an intensive boot camp or customized one-on-one support­—to help entrepreneurs translate their passion into success in the marketplace. Five years in, our portfolio of supported businesses is, in turn, supporting farmers, improving healthy food access, igniting local economies, and growing a more equitable food system.

Fair Food Business Boot Camp:  December 4 – 6, 2018

Our annual Business Boot Camp brings together selected good food entrepreneurs and food industry experts for a FREE three-day intensive training. Topics include marketing strategy, telling your story, break­even analysis, understanding financial statements, real-time problem-solving, fundraising, and more. With skill building sessions, one-on-one coaching, and peer networking, you’ll leave with the skills and resources you need to take your business to the next level.

The Boot Camp culminates in a pitch competition in front of a live audience with a chance to win up to $10,000 in cash prizes from Fair Food Network.

This year’s Boot Camp will be held December 4-6, 2018 at Orange Door Kitchen in Acton, Massachusetts. Fair Food Network will host a kick-off dinner for participants at Orange Door Kitchen on December 3rd. The pitch competition will take place on the evening of Thursday, December 6 at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

The Boot Camp is FREE for selected entrepreneurs including food and lodging. 


We support mission-driven enterprises that are supporting local farmers while increasing healthy food access and sparking local economic activity. Read on to see if your business is a good fit.

  • Your Business is Up & Running. We’re looking for enterprises that are generating an expected annual revenue of $50,000+ (some exceptions apply).
  • You’re a Mission-Driven Business. We’re seeking mission-driven businesses that are supporting local family farmers, increasing healthy food access and affordability, and creating quality jobs in their communities. We’re also committed to supporting the success of women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color. Enterprises could include a farmers’ market vendor, a grocery store/food retailer, specialty food producer, food service business (fast casual, restaurant, mobile truck, etc.), local food processor/distributor, etc. While we don’t expect businesses to hit every impact area, businesses must demonstrate how they are supporting the success of small to mid-size local farms to be eligible.
  • You’re Located in the Northeast and Incorporated in the U.S. We’re looking for businesses located in and benefiting communities in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, or Vermont.
  • You’re Planning for Growth. Preference will be given to applicants planning to seek financing in the next 12 months.
  • You’re a Leader. Applications must be submitted by a founding member of the business or a member of the executive leadership team with the commitment that this person will attend the entire Boot Camp. Selected entrepreneurs may select one other person to accompany them.
  • You’re ready to commit. You and one colleague can commit to the Boot Camp schedule – from a kick-off dinner on December 3rd to the culminating pitch competition on the evening of December 6th. Training days start at 8:45am and go into the evenings with group dinners and working sessions.

Application Process & Deadline

Please answer each question below as specifically and succinctly as possible before submitting your completed application no later than Friday, October 12 at 11:59pm EDT. Accepted applicants will be notified by October 31. Up to 10 enterprises will be selected to participate in this year’s Boot Camp, and an orientation call for participants will be scheduled for mid-November.


Posted in Events, Presentations | Leave a comment