Closing Maine’s Hunger Gaps – USM Food Studies Program

Closing Maine’s Hunger Gap: Exploring Myths, Realities, Solutions
Hunger is on the rise, and threatens the development of our children, the vitality of our workforce, and the strength of our communities. This series will examine the fundamental causes of poverty and hunger, debunking the myths, exposing the realities, and offering creative solutions to these challenges.

All events are free and open to the public.
details and registration here

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Regional Food Systems Investments in New England:

Moving to the Next Stage of Development

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

View agenda and register here

The Federal Reserve System and USDA have partnered to develop a book focused on the community and economic development opportunities of investing in regional food systems. In the book you’ll find articles written by regional food systems investors, funders, and financial intermediaries including Coastal Enterprise Inc., RSF Social Finance, TomKat Foundation, Reinvestment Fund, and JPMorgan Chase. In connection with the book’s release, the Fed and USDA are co-hosting regional meetings to advance local work on regional food systems strategies.

This invite-only meeting is being convened by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, in partnership with the Federal Reserve Board and Coastal Enterprise Inc. (CEI). The meeting is intended to bring together regional food systems investors, funders, and financial intermediaries to discuss the current state of investment in the sector, as well as what is needed to move the investment ecosystem to the next stage of development. The conversation will focus specifically on the investment ecosystem in New England, but is expected to have relevance and applicability to the broader national dialogue on regional food systems investment.

In addition to having the opportunity to engage in a dialogue about the future of regional food systems investments, meeting participants will have ample opportunity for networking and new partnership development, with the aim of propelling investment in the regional food sector in New England.

This meeting is intended for the following types of attendees:

Philanthropic organizations
Impact investors
Asset managers or financial advisors
Credit unions
Community Development Financial Institutions
Other financial intermediaries
Local, state, or federal government stakeholders

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‘Trawl to Table’ Meetings coming up

Trawl to Table events bring fishermen together with seafood dealers, restaurants, retailers, and others involved in buying and selling seafood to share information about the seafood supply chain. These interactive events include stations on gear technology and fishing practices, quality handling, tours at fish auctions and processors, and fisheries management.
Next Meetings:

October 20, 2017
8:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Portland, ME

October 27, 2017
8:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Portland, ME

Contact Patty Collins for more details, or to RSVP for this event.



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The Farmer’s Edge – New Online Business Course

More information can be found here.

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Bonnie will be featured as a keynote speaker, and Amber Lambke of Maine Grains in the lineup of presenters  at this exciting event — here’s the link for more details and registration.

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SMM Meeting Minutes: October 4th, 2017

A glorious Fall day brought a full house to our Focus Group on the Farm Bill, with Craig Hickman and Emily Horton facilitating the session. Our gathering afterwards included a large number of new and enthusiastic participants, along with an engaging group of presenters and a tantalizing array of treats for everyone.

Bonnie opened with reminders of our upcoming daylong event “Stepping up to the Plate” on Nov. 8th at the Hutchinson Center in Belfast, and encouraged people to register early given limited spaces. She also mentioned our need for program sponsors, from for profit and nonprofit sectors, inviting people to contact us. In sharing her recent exchanges with new and familiar people and organizations, she mentioned two Ted talks that have been useful reminders for her in meeting the challenges of our social change endeavors: one by Deborah Frieze, called “How I Became a Localist” and one by Sandy Wiggins, called “Inward Journey, Outward Change.”

She  spoke of the buoying qualities of our network, as we focus on a regenerative economy that values people, place and nature and a cooperative approach to community building. In appreciation, she acknowledged the group with an excerpt from a poem

“The Low Road” by Marge Piercy:
“…it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do it again after they said no
it starts when you say WE
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.”

Pre-Meeting Focus Group: (thanks to Olivia Dooley for notes)

The Farm Bill: Emily Horton, , Craig Hickman

Emily Horton shared information on Congresswoman Pingree’s bills and the upcoming Farm Bill reauthorization process. The Congresswoman has done several listening sessions throughout the state and also has three bills out, which include:
The Food Recovery Act
The Organic Agriculture Research Act
The Local Food and Regional Market Supply Act (Local FARMS)
The Local FARMS Act was just introduced on October 4th, and it aims to help farmers reach markets and consumers access healthy food.

The Farm Bill is scheduled to be reauthorized by September 30, 2018. Participants discussed that Mainers can support the above bills and also share the information with their other members of Congress to let them know that they support these issues in the Farm Bill.

Craig Hickman discussed his work as a legislative representative and shared a state-level perspective of food policy. The conversation largely focused on the Food Sovereignty Bill. This bill was signed into law in June and allows municipalities to regulate local food systems. The law is scheduled to take effect on November 1, 2017, but the Governor has called a special session to amend the law to exclude meat and poultry. The issue is that meat and poultry are regulated by the USDA, a federal agency. The USDA has threatened to put Maine into ‘federal designation’ status if the law is implemented as is. This would mean that only federally inspected processing facilities could operate. The special session is scheduled for October 23, 2017. Craig suggested reading The Whole Meat Act and Interstate Meat Plants for historical background and context.

The presenters encouraged people to get involved and stay informed because citizens can make a difference in policy.


Garbage to Garden: Tyler Frank

Garbage to Garden introduced curbside composting to Maine in 2012, and has since emerged as a multi-state leader in the growing food scrap recycling market. A profitable mission-based business with 20 full-time employees, Garbage to Garden is enabling schools, businesses, events and people at home to compost. And we’ve made it so easy, you don’t even get your hands dirty.
Organic material composes 40% of what we throw away, and it is a finite resource, necessary to produce food, hold water in soil, and trap carbon emissions. Closing the loop of the food system is socially vital, and it also happens to represent the most significant disruption to hit the waste industry in 40 years. Garbage to Garden is on the cutting edge, and positioned to take advantage of the evolving landscape of the waste hauling industry.
Tyler Frank
Maine: (207) 332-0277
Massachusetts: (617) 977-4547

Garbage to Garden Presentation

Crooked Face Creamery: Amy Rowbottom

Amy Rowbottom, owner of Crooked Face Creamery, has been making small batch artisan cheese for over seven years, and operates her business out of her parents’ old dairy farm located along the Kennebec River in Norridgewock. Amy specializes in a few varieties of cheese, a gouda-style cheese, and a whole milk Ricotta, herbed and smoked, made exclusively from Jersey milk. Over the last year, due to an emphasis on re-branding and re-designing her packaging, sales of her Applewood Smoked Ricotta have nearly doubled and put her in a position to expand her wholesale markets by distributing throughout New England. With interest from Whole Foods and high-end cheese shops and restaurants from Boston to NYC, Amy hopes to continue investing in her business this year by completing her HACCP plan, purchasing a larger cheese vat and re-designing her facility to accommodate for this growth.

Amy Rowbottom

Crooked Face Creamery Presentation

Community Financial Literacy: Claude Rwaganje

Claude Rwaganje, Executive Director of Community Financial Literacy, gave a presentation on CFL’s history as it approaches its 10-year anniversary of providing financial education and coaching to Maine’s immigrants and low income population. He discussed the many programs that CFL offers, from classroom-style financial education, to career counseling, to college planning advising. He also outlined the organization’s plans for growth and expansion as demand for services has been increasing.  CFL’s goals include diversifying funding streams to attract more individual and corporate donors beyond just Foundation support. They are also increasing capacity with the addition of staff and volunteers, and expanding to a larger space as they are growing out of their current offices in Portland, but also expanding services to other parts of the state, including, but not limited to Androscoggin and York counties.  To find out how to get involved with Community Financial Literacy, please contact Claude directly.

Claude Rwaganje
Executive Director
Community Financial Literacy
309 Cumberland Ave, suite 205
P.O.Box 8013 Portland, ME 04104
0:207-797-7890 F:207-775-7891

Community Financial Literacy Presentation

Maine Grain Alliance: Tristan Noyes

Maine is reaping the rewards of creating an interconnected community of grainiacs.  The energy and interest from all segments of the grain community is giving rise to village bakeries, craft malthouses, and breweries. Locally grown and milled flour has allowed bakeries to join the local food movement in a new way, thus addressing customer demand. Bakers are baking in their own Maine-built wood-fired ovens, with flour milled locally, from the grain of a nearby farmer. These same bakers have been inspired to innovate, seeking the freshest possible ingredients, and understanding grain varieties as they relate to differences in flavor. Farmers are growing grain for higher value markets, and potato farmers are beginning to increase revenues for their farm on rotation years.  Breweries are using Maine malted barley, wheat berries, and oats, all grown within the state. Large national companies are looking to Maine as a leader in organic grain production.

A century ago, a farmer could learn from a deep network of local grain professionals.  Thanks to our growing regional grain communities, that network is returning.  Where once tools and infrastructure fit the scale and scope of a farm, shared infrastructure and tools are once again becoming available.  The number of acres of grain gown for human consumption has quintupled in Maine since the founding of the Maine Grain Alliance. This is the work the Maine Grain Alliance has a deep interest in, as we look to the future.

The Maine Grain Alliance preserves and promotes grain traditions, from earth to table. We provide opportunities to learn and share how best to grow and use grains, using a combination of traditional and innovative, sustainable techniques. The Maine Grain Alliance promotes beneficial uses of grain to establish food independence, good health, and purposeful jobs within economically viable communities.

Tristan Noyes
Executive Director
Maine Grain Alliance
(207) 272-6844

Maine Grain Alliance Presentation


Blueberry Leaf Project – Heather Omand
In 2017 seven certified organic, Maine, wild blueberry growers completed a Maine Technology Institute Seed Grant to evaluate the viability of harvesting blueberry leaves for national and international markets. This project led to the identification of new challenges and opportunities meriting further research, but initial analysis suggests 30%+ profit margins may be possible – contingent on additional market research.

ReTreeUS – Richard Hodges
ReTreeUS is in the midst of greatly increasing its capacity to educate Maine students about the importance of local agriculture, permaculture and apple heritage in Maine.  There are now 21 orchards in public schools around the state and with the increased programming, planned for 2018, more than 8,000 students annually can benefit from the fruits of our labor and find greater connection to their school, state and food system.  ReTreeUS is seeking support at this critical juncture, contact Richard to find out ways you can help, also visit for more information on how to get your local schools involved.

Maine Harvest Credit Project – Scott Budde
Scott Budde gave a brief update on the progress toward creating Maine Harvest Credit Union. The team working on Maine Harvest CU has two immediate tasks they are working on. First, they are actively raising grant funds and have commitments from funders for 60% if their goal of $2.4 million in start up grant equity. This leaves about $1 million to raise and they are on it!  Second they are plowing ahead on the credit union chartering process and are about half way through the lengthy application. Please let Scott know if you have ideas on either front.

SNAP – Leigh Hallett
The Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets works with farmers’ markets, Maine SNAP-Ed, and local partners to offer nutrition incentives to SNAP shoppers at participating farmers’ markets. This program is designed to help low-income individuals purchase and consume more fresh fruit and vegetables. Maine Harvest Bucks is funded with both USDA and local contributions, with a fundraising drive currently underway to keep it operating in summer 2018.

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Balle Leadership Summit

November 15-17, 2017
Pacific Grove, California.
See details here.

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USDA 2018 Farm to School Grant application December deadline

The long awaited USDA Farm to School Grant Request for Applications has been released.
Full details here.

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Heiwa Tofu is Hiring!


As we continue to grow, we need more team members!Heiwa Tofu manufactures high quality tofu and soymilk using organic Maine and New England grown soybeans. Our production crew is small, but central to the success of the business. Initial responsibilities involve tofu production work, precision cutting and packing tofu, daily cleanup and record keeping. Opportunities exist to learn and become involved with many aspects of running a small business: marketing, distribution, product development, bookkeeping and finance, equipment maintenance and repair, shipping and receiving, warehouse management, scaling and growth strategies, to name a few. Challenges of the job involve demanding physical work in a fast paced and busy (but fun) workplace, repetitive tasks, and adhering to stringent food safety protocols. This is a year-round position available immediately.

The right candidate must:
1. have a strong work ethic and commitment to being a team member in a growing, family-run business
2. be able to learn and follow stringent food safety protocol, yet be able to quickly adapt to changes.
3. have reliable transportation to the facility in Rockport. ME
4. be able to lift 30 lbs

P/T and F/T are available. Production shifts start at 7 or 8 am and last 8 to 10 hours. 2-4 shifts available per week. We also have two or three 5 hour shifts available on the case packing line. These shifts have a slightly more flexible start time (in the morning, though) and last about 5 hours. We don’t operate during the nights or weekends, but are busy year round, with a few slow periods around the holidays.

Pay starts at $12/hr and raises to $15/hr once it is clear you are committed to the team and to performing excellent work.

Email with interest, work history and contact info.

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BikeMaine Event serves 75% local foods!

For the second year, Maine Farm and Sea Cooperative (MFSC) was selected to manage all the meal purchasing to service for BikeMaine.

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