Thanks to everyone that participated in our 3rd annual SMM daylong gathering in Belfast on November 15th! The event brought 150 people together to learn from presenters and each other about varied forms of strengthening viable food systems throughout the state.
The morning began with networking time and breakfast treats provided by Barrels Community Market in Waterville. The group then gathered for a welcome and introduction from Bonnie, followed by Linzee’s powerpoint presentation describing SMM’s history since its inception in 2010. This included many examples of investments of over $4mm that have been catalyzed through network initiatives in the ag sector.
An unexpected (for many) program departure was a special acknowledgment of Bonnie in her SMM leadership role, with words from Eleanor and a gift of a photograph of one of Jim Gerritsen’s children on their farm in Bridgewater, which held distinctive personal meaning.
Several 8-minute presentations followed, featuring farmers, entrepreneurs, and nonprofit enterprises. A synopsis of each talk follows, with related power points if included in the presentation:
Jed Beach, of Ararat Farms in Lincolnville, provided background about the farm that he manages and market choices that he and his wife Emilia have made after several years of exploring varied crop production. He also described their intentions to move into significantly larger markets (Whole Foods, Hannafords) next year with their vegetables and to transition to a new form of partnership with the farm’s owner. More details in power point below:
FMI, call Jed at 390-0614 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Tate McPherson/TryNorth Grain Center in Presque Isle: Tate spoke of the potential for grain production in Aroostook County and his plans to purchase a building for grain storage and segregation use. With years of experience in seed production and sales through his business of The Maine Seed Company, Tate is clear that with more infrastructure pieces coming into existence (mills, distribution companies, etc.), more farmers will be open to putting land back into production and this will serve well in meeting food needs throughout the state and throughout New England. He anticipates that $2mm will be required to purchase the proposed building, retrofit it, and provide sufficient working capital for the startup phase of the business.
FMI, call Tate at 764-0567 or e-mail email@example.com
Liza Fleming-Ives/Genesis Community Loan Fund and Linda Norwood/Medomak Mobile Home Park, shared a brief history of Genesis Community Loan Fund and how the Mobile Home Park has come to be co-operatively owned and managed. They also shared a video and narrative describing the vegetable gardens that have been developed by the residents of the Park, providing social, economic and environmental benefits to the community and a replicable model for others to implement.
FMI, call Liza at 563-6073 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Watch Video (right click and download if it does not play in your browser)
Aaron Bell & Carly DelSignore of Tide Mill Farm in Edmunds, spoke of their 9-generation farm operation including participation in MOOMilk as well as hopes to expand their poultry operation with a new on-site processing facility. This will allow them the opportunity to more than double their production of birds (currently 10,000) in a USDA-approved, air-chilled facility and will improve soil fertility through pasture rotation. They are likely to receive significant TIF funds but will pursue matching grants and additional loans to meet needs for this $400K project.
FMI, call Aaron and Carly at 733-2551 or e-mail email@example.com
Mark Fulford, of Lookfar Agricultural Services in Monroe, included highlights of Maine’s history of grain growing and outlined current needs for providing equipment and technical assistance to small and mid-scale growers especially. He has researched suitable equipment in several countries and is collaborating with Maine farmers and organizations to develop plans for increasing and improving grain production and post-harvest strategies. More details in power point below:
FMI, call Mark at 525-7761 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill Eldridge/MOOMilk, gave a brief outline of current aspects of the business and focused on the “Buy a Cow Loan Fund” which offers loans to the company’s dairy farmers to expand their dairy herds. This fund has been developed in a matching program with Whole Foods and is open to any individual or group with terms of 4 years @5% and payments deducted from farmers’ milk checks. More details in power point below:
FMI, Call Bill at 242-5034 or e-mail email@example.com
Following these presentations, Dorothy Suput, from “The Carrot Project”, spoke at greater length about “How Financing is Growing Farmer Capacity in the New England Region.” She presented examples of a farm and food business that have benefited from loans and detailed the important role of technical assistance in addition to loans for successful outcomes. More details in the powerpoint below. For more information, call Dorothy at 617-666-9637 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
John Sharood, Sam May and Sam Bishop shared “Creating an Ag-Focused Credit Union in Maine” which described their research and readiness to begin the application process for this institutional form, which will fill a niche for $5K-45K loans to meet working capital and infrastructure needs of smaller enterprises. More details in their power point below:
FMI, call John at 978-257-1508 or e-mail email@example.com
A brief question and answer period preceded a delicious lunch prepared by Local Sprouts Cooperative in Portland and ample time was provided for informal conversations.
The afternoon program offered a choice of three discussion groups, facilitated by SMM Steering Committee members and focused on “Crowd Funding”, “Expanding Grain Growing” and “Getting Farmers on Our Farms.” Discussion leaders and their contact information follow:
Crowd Funding: Kevin Lehman/Three Revolutions in VT: firstname.lastname@example.org; 802-989-1802….Judy Shaw/ME State Office of Securities: email@example.com; 207-624-8551; Christa Bahner/Bahner Farm: firstname.lastname@example.org; 342-2592
Expanding Grain Growing: Mark Fulford (see above), Tate McPherson (see above)
Getting Farmers on Our Farms: John Piotti/Maine Farmland Trust: email@example.com; 338-6575; Eleanor Kinney: firstname.lastname@example.org; 380-3155
Tours were also featured in the afternoon, to Coastal Farms and Food Processing facility as well as Bahner Farm.
Thanks to Maine Farmland Trust for being a lead sponsor and to CEI and Belfast Co-op for additional support. Kudos to Jeremy Bloom for tech support of presenters and their power point offerings.
We look forward to sharing more with you in 2013. Enjoy the holiday season!!!!