WOW!!!! What an expansive, energizing, auspicious start to the new year with our first SMM gathering of 2015!! Our new, larger venue was inviting and spacious and the room was well filled with familiar and new faces, delicious food samplings, inspiring presentations and nonstop networking opportunities!!! Many thanks to Martha Chase of Christ Church in Gardiner for hosting us well, to Kari for her skilled work with presenters and to all of our food businesses for providing tasty treats! Presenters shared smoked alewives, mushroom tarts and birch sap along with fruits, veggies and coffee that were donated by Crown O’ Maine and the Gardiner Food Coop and Cafe.
After Bonnie’s welcome and introduction to our new venue offerings, Samuel Kaymen opened with reflections on the New Year. His inspiring words can be heard through this link.
Dwayne Shaw/Downeast Salmon Federation
Downeast Salmon Federation (DSF) is seeking support to continue and expand our successful heritage process of smoking fish for preservation.
Our primary focus is on lower end food chain fish, namely river herring (i.e. sea run alewives and blueback herring), mackerel, and smelt. All have historical significance regionally and feature large, healthy populations that can serve as a food staple. Our proposed mobile smokehouse can increase the amount of local, nutritious foods available in the community and serve as an outreach tool for DSF about fisheries conservation.
Sara Trunzo/MFT’s Veggies for All
Veggies For All is a food bank farm located in Unity, Maine that works to relieve hunger by growing vegetables for those in need while collaborating with partners to distribute and increase access to quality and nutritious food.
Each year we grow tons of vibrant, pesticide-free produce that is made available to our most food insecure neighbors -at no cost- through traditional emergency food networks. We are currently working with 10 food pantries to serve 1,500 food insecure Mainers.
Founded by beginning farmers in 2007, we have grown and distributed over 100,000 pounds of vegetables and engaged hundreds of volunteers in thousands of hours of community- based hunger relief.
In 2014, we became a project of Maine Farmland Trust. As we head into our 8th year of operation, Veggies For All seeks to share the successful elements of our work and food bank farm “model” with others in the state, while we examine opportunities to increase the impact of our work by making it more sustainable, farmer-centric, and client-inclusive.
Maine Farmland Trust // 207 338 6575
Erik Lomen and Christopher Campbell/Maine Cap N’ Stem LLC
Maine Cap N’ Stem was started in January of 2014 after a year of small batch R&D. We grow culinary mushrooms on red oak sawdust substrate in climate controlled, indoor fruiting rooms. We believe we are the largest mushroom grower in Maine. We move 4 tons of sawdust per month through our 3,000 sqft facility and currently produce just shy of 800 lbs of mushrooms per month and we have the capacity to grow to two or three time our size in our present location. While our main crop consists of about four or five varieties of fresh mushrooms, there are many additional possible products; culinary, medicinal and farm-to-farm that we plan to explore this coming year. We grow on a milling waste by-product (sawdust), and all of our byproducts can be recycled or value-added to for resale. In 2015 we hope to double our output and triple it in 2016 – going forward we hope to locate in a place that can allow us to take advantage of geothermal heating and cooling. While we did not attend the meeting to solicit funds, we are on the lookout for between $40,000 to $80,000 in funding for 2015 and up to $200,000 for 2016 to cover machinery, distribution, sales and web presence needs.
Erik Lomen and Christopher Campbell
Michael Romanyshyn/Temple Birch Tappers
We aim to be the first commercial producers of birch syrup in Maine and the first producers of bottled birch sap in the United States. We want to inspire other land owners in Maine with our success, and we seek to build a cooperative group of birch tappers that can create a lasting Maine brand of birch syrup and bottled birch sap adding a non-timber forest product to the future of our woodlands.
Birch syrup has been called “The Next Big Thing”. More and more people are discovering its wonderful flavor and its many uses at home. It is beginning to be a popular ingredient in sauces and drinks in select restaurants. The small amount of bottled sap available in the United States is imported from Poland and Finland. There are currently no US producers. Birch syrup is just beginning to be produced in the Northeast and this makes the timing very good for a Maine company to begin.
Our family land in Temple consists of several hundred acres of mixed forest with an abundance of birch trees in an advantageous location. The trees are situated on a steep hillside making it an ideal place for tapping and creating a natural vacuum.
As far as we know, no one else in Maine is doing this commercially yet. There’s a wide open market place with room and need for many more producers.
Michael Romanyshyn and Susie Dennison
Michael Bartner shared Slow Money’s successful national gathering in Louisville this past November, that attracted over 850 attendees from 46 states & 2 countries as well as 6000 more people via live streaming. He spoke a bit about new Slow Money reports related to investing in local food systems which include the December 2014 Progress Report and the State of the Sector Report, detailing the past 5 years of investments in small food enterprises and learnings from these choices. He mentioned that SMM is the most active of all chapters in the U.S.
Charles Rudelitch (Sunrise Community Economic Council): Since Charles was ill and unable to present , Bonnie brought news that SCEC has received gifts through SMM connections totaling $75,900, going to the Machias Marketplace for storage & electrical needs, to Tide Mill Farm for its poultry processing facility, to Tenth Village Farm and to Salty Dog Farm for operating needs.
Karen Stevenson/Capital Area Food Council: Capital Area Food Council gathers together a diverse group involved in all aspects of the food system to discuss, collaborate and initiate positive change in our communities local food system. We are a project of the the Maine Network of Community Food Councils and Healthy Communities of the Capital Area. We meet on third Thursdays of the month and invite others in the community to participate. Please join us!
Paige Turney/ME’s Capital Registration Law: Paige outlined Maine’s new seed capital registration rule (Fund-ME), which became effective on January 1, 2015. The rule makes it easier for small businesses to raise capital and the Office of Securities has put a lot of focus on making Fund-ME workable. She encouraged individuals to call her for assistance as they formulate a plan to raise capital through Fund-ME.
Veronique Vendette/Gardiner Food Coop & Cafe: Veronique shared the progress of the Co-op in the past 3 years which now includes a site being prepared at 269 Water St., a General Manager, 260 members, over 2000 volunteer hours, and $143K raised ($20K more needed in member-owner loans). Plans include opening in the Spring. Jackson McLeod/Fluid Farms: Jackson updated us on his work in the past 3 years with his aquaponic greenhouse business with lettuce as the primary focus. He & his partner are close to finalizing a new site with a revised business plan and will be seeking investors soon.
Mary Alice Scott/Portland Food Coop: Mary Alice brought exciting news of the co-op which had its grand opening in December and has already exceeded goals in several ways!!!! The store includes over 120 local vendors and has produce leading store sales!!! She gave special thanks to SMM for providing credibility and help in providing connections to 30% of the $850K member-owner loans secured.
Jed Beach/FarmSmart: Jed has been running a consulting service since August as a new way to combine his MBA and farming backgrounds. He offers comprehensive business services for farmers, helping them especially to shift habits in bookkeeping and avoid the “Whoa…what happened?” distressing financial scenario.
Eleanor Kinney/Tide Mill Farm Indiegogo campaign: Eleanor made a pitch for the farm’s Indiegogo campaign to raise $25K for its USDA certified poultry processing facility. 2 days & $1800 to go!!!
Next gathering: Thursday, March 19th, Christ Church in Gardiner – See you then!