January 16th 2013 SMM meeting notes

Unfortunately, a messy snowstorm reduced attendance significantly at our first gathering of 2013 but fortunately about 40 people braved conditions and shared opportunities to network and learn from several excellent presentations. Many people joined us for the first time which was a heartening way to start the new year!

After a welcome and overview of SMM and the afternoon program, Bonnie created a candlelit ritual honoring Russell Libby, longtime MOFGA leader, and included words from SMM web master Jeremy Bloom (see web site for details) and the following poem by Wendell Berry:

“The Current”
Having once put his hand into the ground,
seeding there what he hopes will outlast him,
a man has made a marriage with his place,
and if he leaves it his flesh will ache to go back.
His hand has given up its birdlife in the air.
It has reached into the dark like a root
and begun to wake, quick and mortal, in timelessness,
a flickering sap coursing upward into his head
so that he sees the old tribespeople bend
in the sun, digging with sticks, the forest opening
to receive their hills of corn, squash, and beans,
their lodges and graves, and closing again.
He is made their descendant, what they left
in the earth rising into him like a seasonal juice,
And he sees the bearers of his own blood arriving,
the forest burrowing into the earth as they come,
their hands gathering the stones up into walls,
and relaxing, the stones crawling back into the ground
to lie still under the black wheels of machines.
The current flowing to him through the earth
flows past him, and he sees one descended from him,
a young man who has reached into the ground,
his hand held in the dark as by a hand.”

All scheduled presenters were there except Heather Burt from F.A.R.M.S. who will appear in March. A synopsis of all presentations follows, with powerpoints included if used:

Robert Sharood & Hannah Nichols/Farming Fungi in Springvale: Robert spoke of his family-owned organic mushroom business focused on year round growing on hardwood with the Maine brand name of Mousam Valley. With a $25K seed grant from MTI matched by private funds, he is nearing completion of a 4000 square foot facility with computerized control systems and is in production with three mushroom varieties (Oyster, Shitake and Lion’s Mane) and 100% compostable packaging. The first phase of the building retrofit costs $250K and $100K is needed to complete the project over the next year. The company will focus on millennial, 55+, and European/Asian populations along with specialty retail and restaurant markets within a day’s drive from the facility to maintain a high quality product. First shipments are due to begin in March 2013 with hopes to produce 1500 pounds/week by the end of the year.
FMI call Robert at 251-2238 or e-mail robertsharood@gmail.com

Robert’s presentation

Waite Maclin/Pastor Chuck’s Orchards: Waite shared his background as an Episcopal minister, psychotherapist, gardener and orchardist. Since 2004, he has owned and operated Pastor Chuck Orchards as a one-man show, making organic, sugar-free apple butter and applesauce. He also shared his excitement about new connections with a Vermont marketing/sales consultant, a food broker in Massachusetts and with Coastal Farms and Food Processing in Belfast with plans to ramp up production from 5000 to 100,000 units/year. He has been test marketing products for several years and feels confident about expansion options, particularly with the processing facility where co-packing has begun on a modest but successful scale. His new product name is Chuck’s Organics and his financial needs include $200K from investors. Organic apple sourcing has primarily been through Ricker Hill but other orchards are likely to be included as well.
FMI, call Waite at 773-1314 or e-mail waite@pastorchuckorchards.com
Please note: As of this writing, Waite has decided to close down this business.

Mike Gold (MFT Farm Viability Project) introducing Gina Simmons and Ryan Wilson/Common Wealth Poultry Company: Mike heads up MFT’s Farm Viability Project and introduced presenters Gina and Ryan, who have been involved in vegetable and poultry farming, most recently as operators of Commonwealth Farm since 2010. John Barnstein of Mainely Poultry has been their mentor. Since then, they have experienced significant growth in sales of 12,000 birds (ducks, geese, chickens and guinea fowl). They also responded to the need for poultry processors in central or midcoast Maine and are now considering a property in Dresden to process up to 20,000 birds without USDA inspection and to also develop a USDA certified poultry processing facility. Additionally, they plan to expand value-added products and to scale the duck portion of their business to become competitive with other regional and national producers. They shared financial needs of $295K related to this endeavor.
FMI call Ryan at 737-9710 and Gina at 233-0581 or e-mail ryan (ghosttimber@gmail.com) and Gina (gsimmons2@gmail.com)
Please note: As of this writing, Gina and Ryan are pursuing a business option in collaboration with Treble Ridge Farm in Whitefield, with a need for $45K in loans to start their processing facility. They will share farm endeavors, retrofit a building nearby, and focus on building wholesale markets.

Dominic Pascarelli & Kelsey Herrington/Two Farmers Farm in West Scarborough:Dominic and Kelsey did a powerpoint presentation illustrating their personal and farming backgrounds, intentions and values. They focused on plans to raise vegetables and cover crops on 5 acres of leased land in West Scarborough, a 90-acre property that has been owned by the same family for 100 years. Season extension and winter growing are their likely market niches. Startup costs are $45K of which $25K is still needed for equipment, operating capital, leasehold improvement and a farm vehicle. They look forward to “being participants and leaders in the movement for a safer, more healthful, and more robust local food economy.”
FMI call Dominic & Kelsey at 319-9102 or e-mail twofarmersfarm@gmail.com

Dominic and Kelsey’s presentation

SMM updates included the following (several people were missing from this lineup):
Paige Turney/Maine State Office of Securities: The SEC has not yet submitted a draft of proposed Crowdfunding rules which, pursuant to the JOBS Act, were due at the end of 2012.  At this point, given many uncertainties, there is no anticipated date for submission, but Paige will provide updates as they become available.

Amber LambkeAmber is quite excited about getting products to markets and is eager to hear from anyone about additional stores for her to contact. Interesting markets for by-products are also being developed. The Pickup has significantly increased its number of shareholders. CDC funding for Main Street communities will support important local healthy food initiatives and the USDA is offering microloans to new enterprises. The historic grange across the street from the mill just sold for $15K and will be adapted for community use.

Linzee Weld: Slow Money Maine’s TAP (Technical Assistance Partners) program is expanding and formalizing its work.

Samuel Kaymen/F.A.R.M.S. (given absence of Heather Burt): great excitement with the development of a community kitchen on the second floor of Rising Tide Co-op in Damariscotta, to be used for education and outreach.

Samuel Kaymen/Maine Organic Lenders: SMM’s new investment group spinoff is based in the midcoast, operating more informally than No Small Potatoes. There are about 8-12 active participants planning to make loans to organic enterprises from $5-25,000, with terms to be evaluated through site visits and dialogue with prospective borrowers. Samuel shared the group’s new loan application form, with rolling deadline, which is now ready for those interested. FMI, call Deb Chapman at 236-4148 or e-mail cci@midcoast.com

Bonnie (for Michael Bartner and Slow Money National): Slow Money national will hold its 4th annual gathering in Boulder, CO on April 29-30, 2013. Keynote speakers will include Mary Berry, Gary Nabhan, Carlo Petrini and Maine’s own Jim Gerritsen!!! Check the web site for registration and program details.

Sara Trunzo (Unity College) and Daniel Wallace (CEI) will hopefully be able to attend and provide updates at our March 20th gathering.

Next SMM gathering is March 20th, 1-4 at the Viles Arboretum.

 

 

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