By Chellie Pingree: | Commentary, Farm Bill, FARMING, FOOD + POLICY, Food Policy

I’ve always been optimistic about the farm bill. I felt very fortunate to work on the last farm bill with colleagues on both sides of the aisle, supporting programs that I believe make a difference. As legislation goes, the farm bill has a track record of breaking down party lines and cultivating collaboration.

Read full article here.

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Meeting Minutes April 11, 2018

What a glorious Springtime gift to gather with everyone last week!!!  Along with others that I’ve heard from, I felt deeply heartened and energized by our incredible network!!!  Tim Rider of NE Fishmongers, expressed it well in sharing his enjoyment of our gatherings that help him feel “less alone and more connected to others with similar issues.” As a fisherman, he could fully relate to the presentation of a dairy farmer, and he suggested possibilities of new collaborations as he heard needs of others that he could help meet in mutually satisfying ways. 

Heather Omand, from our SMM Steering Committee and MOFGA, facilitated a conversation among a large group of TA providers before our regular gathering. Participants engaged in animated exchanges, sharing trends and themes from their past year’s work with farmers and other food producers. They noted increased interest in co-operative models, ongoing needs for help with land access and succession, financing, food safety, and market issues. Mentors were pleased to be meeting with familiar and new colleagues, learning about new projects, and appreciating their multidisciplinary strengths. You can find the notes from the meeting here.

Thanks to Brett Richardson,from CEI, for taking notes from the Fisheries Focus Group conversation.Here they are: “Tim Rider and Tim Sheehan highlighted challenges and opportunities for small scale harvesters and producers to thrive in regulatory, management, and policy systems designed for large scale, industrial operations.  Smaller operations have more limited access to fishery resources and must be more agile and creative to penetrate markets with their products.  Opportunities exist for small scale fishing businesses to collaborate with each other and for fishing businesses to collaborate with similar sized and quality-focused terrestrial agriculture businesses to serve sustainability-minded customers with traceable, premium products.”

Bonnie opened with brief news about varied SMM activities (new videos coming this summer & Fall, among other things!!!) and introduced people to to Michael Bartner, VP of Slow Money Institute,who brought copies of a new book by Slow Money’s Founder, Woody Tasch. She went on to acknowledge the great support of her assistant Avery and new marketing support from Maggi Blue. She shared our upcoming first-ever Central Maine event and asked for help from everyone to promote it and attend. She also honored every farmer in the group and read a blessing for them written by John O’Donohue. The fullness of the afternoon was also evident in the amazing array of food offerings, the pre-meeting focus group on fisheries, and the meeting of TA mentors organized by Heather Omand. Thanks to everyone for a much-needed morale boost as winter ever so slightly moves towards Spring. See you at KVCC on May 2nd,

Isuken Co-op/ Sustainable Livelihoods Relief Organization (SLRO)- Jonah Fertig-Burd & Mohamed Dekow

Isuken Co-op: Somali Bantu Farm to Table Food Truck
Isuken means unity! Isuken Food Truck will be Lewiston’s new spot for fresh local food and Somali Bantu cuisine.  The vegetables are grown by Somali Bantu farmers locally and prepared lovingly by mothers and grandmothers.   Isuken also has a farm outside of Lewiston where they grow vegetables for the truck.  Isuken will be the Nation’s first Somali Bantu farm-to-table food truck.  With dishes for meat eaters, vegetarians, vegans and gluten-free people, Isuken shares a menu that is healthy and delicious. The Isuken Food Truck is the first step towards a permanent farm to table restaurant and market in downtown Lewiston.  The Food Truck will bring the food directly to the people, build the brand and following, and raise money for the long-term goal. Look out for a Kickstarter campaign launching soon.

Sustainable Livelihods Relief Organizaion (SLRO)
Building New Lives in Maine
Mission: Sustainable Livelihoods Relief Organization (SLRO) develops the capacity of the New Mainers to become productive members of society and integrate successfully into the labor market as both employees and business owners to raise the standard of living, strengthen the people’s resilience to adversity, and create a supportive environment for improved community well-being.
Vision: Every man and woman will  have the opportunity to achieve his/her fullest potential, integrate into the job market and contribute to all aspects, and leave a sustainable society for future generations.

The Milkhouse – Caitlin Frame & Andy Smith

The Milkhouse is a certified organic dairy farm and creamery in Monmouth, Maine, owned and operated by Caitlin Frame and Andy Smith. We raise pastured livestock-cows, pigs, and chickens-to produce delicious, nourishing, high quality milk, yogurt, meat and eggs. Organic practices ensure sound stewardship of our animals, land & community. We intend to maintain the fertility and productivity of this farm, as well as leaving hedgerow and woodland habitats intact, all without the use of synthetic chemicals. We value and engage with our local economy, community, & environment.

The Milkhouse has grown steadily since its beginning in 2012, and one of our goals is to get our products into the bellies of more Maine people. To do this, we need to expand our production capacity by adding infrastructure improvements to our existing creamery. These improvements include expanding our incubation space, cold storage, dry storage and washroom space. This will allow us to process all of our milk into yogurt and better serve school districts, universities and hospitals, as well as grow our current accounts and begin selling to Hannaford.

Much of the growth in our sales will come from our yogurt. Milkhouse yogurt is made with fresh whole milk and probiotic cultures. Our flavored yogurts are made with Maine maple syrup and Maine wild blueberries. Our yogurt is a whole food with no added sugar or thickeners. It is truly a food representative of the Maine ‘milkshed’: our cows are raised and sustained by the land of this farm which allows them to produce an abundance of rich, delicious milk. And we magic that milk into yogurt, which is both an incredibly simple and complex conclusion to a process that begins with sunlight, soil, water, grass, and a cow.

The Milkhouse
Organic Dairy Farm & Creamery
(207) 877 1705

Caitlin Frame
The Milkhouse Presentation

Rock City Coffee -Ken Greenleaf & Kevin Malstrom

Kevin Malmstrom, from the Rock City Employee Cooperative, and Ken Greenleaf, from MaineStream Finance, talked about the completion of the transfer of ownership from the founder to the co-op owned by many of the people who work there. The presentation was about how it was financed, how the government and management works, and what it’s like to be the owners. They were joined by Deborah Hawkins of the Cooperative Fund of New England to elaborate on how these projects can be financed.

Kevin Malstrom
Ken Greenleaf
Rock City Coffee Presentation


Dave Herring – Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment

There is a lot happening these days at Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment – yes, that is a new name as of late 2017. We are definitely still a farm but we continue to grow our programs and our impact and we are excited to share some updates with the SMM community. Specifically, we will give very brief updates on the Organic Dairy Farmer Apprenticeship program, a major new research initiative around regenerative agriculture, and a glimpse at some of our education programs for people of all ages.
Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture & the Environment
Dave Herring

Tim Rider – NE Fishmongers

Tim shared some exciting news and appreciation for Slow Money Maine in helping make it possible for New England Fishmongers to purchase a second boat to add to their fleet.  Additionally, he noted that his business continues to grow and his markets have expanded to include New Hampshire.

New England Fishmongers
Tim Rider

Deb Bicknell – Sustainable Food Systems Leadership Institute

MANP’s Sustainable Food Systems Leadership Institute (SFSLI) is designed for leaders from across Maine with common interests in seeing and helping to create a food system in Maine that is local, strong, sustainable, just and healthy for all.

The Sustainable Food System Leadership Institute (SFSLI) curriculum seeks to strengthen Maine’s local food movement by offering participants a variety of learning opportunities that focus on core competencies of:

  • Network Development: Building the network of people and organizations working on this issue;
  • Leadership Development: Building leadership capacity (individual, organizational and network/movement);
  • Movement Building: Building the knowledge base, and core competencies related to strengthening the food movement.

The purpose of SFSLI is to prepare participants to effectively find and assume leadership roles in local food systems by creating a learning community that encourages:

  • personal and professional reflection
  • practical skill development, and
  • the expansion of individuals’ networks within and between communities in the local foods movement.

Deb Bicknell

Bill Seretta – Maine Food System Innovation Challenge

The Maine Food System Innovation Challenge is now the New England Food System Innovation Challenge. Registration opened on April 16th for Enterprise and College Teams. The Challenge will be held November 9-11, 2018 at Saint Joseph’s College. More information and registration at:

Bill Serretta

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Maine Center for Entrepreneurs – new workshops

Preparing to Raise Capital – What Startups Need to Know
Presenters: Kristy Abraham, Bryan O’Brien, Don Gooding

Tuesday, April 24, 2018 from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM EDT

Preti Flaherty
One City Center
Portland, ME 04101

There are many steps a startup can take prior to seeking outside capital that can help maximize its capital raise opportunities. This workshop will walk you through what investors will expect to see – from financial models, pitch decks, executive summaries and business plans, to cap tables, reference lists, deal structures and exit options. Is your corporate legal work in order? We’ll also discuss the various legal issues to consider when preparing to raise capital.

Other workshops in this series are as follows – register for just one or all of them.

May 8 – Non-Equity Financing for Startups
Presenters: Sara Moppin

May 22 – Raising Equity Capital and Securities Law Basics
Presenters: Kara Sweeney and Mac McCabe

June 5 – Equity Compensation of Employees, Advisors, Directors
Presenters: Emily White, Matt Hoffner

June 19 – Come to Terms: Understanding Term Sheets
Presenters: Michael Sheehan, John Burns

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Marco Vangelisti, a founding member of Slow Money and founder of Essential Knowledge for Transition, will offer a webinar series on aligning personal investments with personal values.

During the workshop you will:

Learn about the problems with global finance from an ex-insider
Clarify your own values and build your Personal Investment Compass
Learn basic concepts of portfolio management and the tools to assess your liquidity and risk profile
Determine the prudent allocation of your portfolio to direct, impact or local investments
Learn about aligned investment opportunities open to all
Learn how to assess the risk and the alignment with your values of an investment opportunity
Connect with a group of like-minded individuals interested in building a better world through their investments

Sign up for webinar here.

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NPR: A Grass-Roots Movement For Healthy Soil Spreads Among Farmers

In American farm country, a grass-roots movement is spreading, a movement to keep more roots in the soil. (Not just grass roots, of course; roots of all kinds.) Its goal: Promoting healthy soil that’s full of life.

I met three different farmers recently who are part of this movement in one way or another. Each of them took me to a field, dug up some dirt, and showed it off like a kind of hidden treasure.

Listen to the full audio story here.

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Maine Biz – As Maine agriculture evolves, farm financers aim to keep up

To launch Bumbleroot Organic Farm, the four founders pooled funds to buy a tractor and things like vegetable and flower seed, setting up a modest operation on a 1.5-acre site leased in Buxton.

Bolstered by income from a community-supported agriculture program, farmers markets and sales to restaurants, they quickly sought out land to buy.

In 2016, through a Maine Farmland Trust program and with financing from Coastal Enterprises Inc., the Bumbleroot owners bought 89 acres of farmland in Windham, invested in renovation and put five acres into production.

read full article here.

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Green Money – April Issue – Women and Investing

Lots of great articles about women and investing in the April ejournal of “Green Money.”  Read full issue here.

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Maine Grains Wins Governors Award!!

Read all about it here.

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Gulf of Maine Seafood Celebration

Thursday, April 26, 5:30–7:30 pm
Location: GMRI, 350 Commercial Street, Portland, ME 04101
Admission: $60 in advance, $75 at the door
See details here.

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Agricultural Labor Field Day

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, the Maine Department of Labor (DOL) and Kennebec Valley Community College (KVCC) will hold a free Agricultural Labor Field Day, open to the public, on
Thursday, May 3, 2018,
from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
at KVCC’s Alfond Recreational Center in Hinckley.

The field day aims to connect young adults interested in professional and academic agricultural careers with local jobs in various agriculture fields and/or undergraduate programming in sustainable agriculture, culinary arts and business administration at KVCC. This is also an opportunity to meet with workforce training and professional development staff from KVCC and DOL to review resumes and get job search advice. KVCC will provide farm tours during the event. FMI: Yvette Meunier at 207-592-0640 or

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