With the combination of high summer and high temperatures, it was not surprising to have a smaller but well engaged group at our July meeting. Bonnie opened with an awareness of intentions to remain inclusive and apolitical but with a timely need to share personal and professional distress given the sad and degrading aspects of recent world events. She suggested that our SMM endeavors, with a focus on caring collaborations and support of life in all forms, offer a source of light amidst dark forces that are clearly effecting all of us.
She then reminded everyone to “Save the Date” of Nov. 10th for our daylong gathering in Belfast. She spoke about her excitement in starting this network in 2010 based on building consciousness and creative partnerships that would contribute to a paradigm shift about health food and local food systems. She touched on the daunting aspects of our pioneering efforts and our strivings to keep values aligned as we work within an entrenched old economic system and simultaneously help to create a new one, where all forms of capital, not money alone, are important. This focus on a regenerative economy will permeate our daylong program, including innovative pioneers from Maine and the region as presenters. Deborah Frieze, from the Boston Impact Initiative, will be our keynote speaker and Crown o’ Maine Organic Cooperative will provide a case study conversation about “How to Scale up without Selling Out,” featuring business principals and mentors as well as individual and institutional investors in the dialogue. Stay tuned for more details!
Focus Group/Using Web-Based technology in food based businesses
June Sleeper, Troy Gagnon and Hannah Semler facilitated the focus group titled “Utilizing Web-based Technology for Food Businesses.” The participants came from a range of backgrounds with conversation focused on apps and software programs that could aid efforts in gleaning and waste recovery of food from farms, gardens, and retail outlets. The programs highlighted are listed below:
- Spoiler Alert – allows for communication for exchange of goods between for-profit and not-for-profit (sell at cost or donate food before it spoils.)
- Ample Harvest – matches master gardener program with smaller gardens in food donations. – (ampleharvest.org)
- Farm Drop – an online farmers’ market that allows customized CSA shares. (farmdrop.org)
- Lean Path – tracks gleaned food from farmer to recipient organization. (www.leanpath.com)
- Community Plates – provides logistical help to coordinate volunteers. (communityplates.org)
- Second Shelf – Teaches how to meet labor gaps with volunteers and temporary workers.
Among obstacles to widespread use of these programs is that most of these programs are fairly new and awareness and networks must be built.
Stephanie Gilbert – Maine Dept. of Agriculture/State of Maine Agricultural Development Programs and Opportunities
The Maine Farms for the Future Program is a competitive program that accepts 8 to 12 farms each year. Farms for the Future Program grants.
To be eligible, a farm must have been in commercial operation in Maine for at least 2 years. The more experience the farm has, the more competitive it is. The Phase 1 grant of $6,000 assists a farm family with investigating their ideas for change to improve the long-term viability and profitability of the farm and creating an investment-grade business plan to implement the changes. The farm can then compete for Phase 2 investment support, which comes in the form of a cash grant for 25% of the cost to implement, up to $25,000 and must be matched by 75% (cash, grants, loans, in-kind materials and labor), and/or a low-interest rate on loan approved through the Agricultural Marketing Loan Fund Program.
Maine Farms for the Future presentation
Stephanie Gilbert/Farm Viability and Farmland Protection Specialist
Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
Desk: 207-287-7520 Mobile: 207-557-2036
Allison Lakin – Lakin’s Gorges Cheese
Lakin’s Gorges Cheese and Foley’s Custom Sawmill are merging to create Lakin Foley LLC which is in the process of purchasing a farm to house the two businesses. This new venture will permit the expansion of the cheese business, which has been operated in leased space since 2011, and has reached the point of being at maximum capacity for equipment and space capability.
Foley’s Custom Sawmill is a portable milling service, but also mills custom orders. The farm will provide a permanent mill yard where an increased stock of lumber can be milled and stored to serve a larger market.
Over the next 3 years, we will begin the transition to organic process, and raise 8-10 Jersey cows that will become the exclusive milk source for the cheese business. The pigs and poultry will then be fed the whey, a by product of cheese production. Duck, pork and veal will be sold as an additional income stream for the farm. We will also offer experiential education programs in culinary and agricultural skills.
The building renovations will be optimized to reduce energy and resource consumption. We plan to install solar panels on the roof to power an air-source heat exchanger for heating and cooling the production space and an on-demand water heater for heating the vat-pasteurizer. The hot water used during the pasteurization process will be recirculated through the floor for radiant heating and the water used to cool the vat-pasteurizer during the cheese-making process will be recirculated through a geo-thermal cooling system.
FarmDrop.org, a project of Healthy Acadia in conjunction with our Gleaning Initiative, is a year-round online farmers market at the heart of the Blue Hill Peninsula’s food system. From a perspective of community resilience and business opportunity, every town in Maine should have a version of FarmDrop.org supporting online direct farmer to consumer sales, from the comfort of their homes, while supporting community food security projects to increase access to local food for all. FarmDrop.org is the ultimate social business model, or entrepreneurial non-profit, for community food systems. There is no end to the opportunities of this software as it is currently designed. Our limitations come in the form of a communication breakdown between the off the shelf tool called Iscripts, customized to be an adapted multi-vendor shopping cart, and the web hosts, servers and payment systems we use: such as Dreamhost, WordPress and PayPal. In the short term FarmDrop.org will need to build a new communication structure to sustain this unique community food network of more than 50 farmers and customers, and 564 people on our mailing list, and in the mid-term replicate this proven local food distribution model, that integrates for-profit and non-profit food security goals, for the long-term goals of sustaining the future of Maine’s community food economies.
Hannah Semler (o) 207-667-7171 (c) 207-812-8265
Gleaning & FarmDrop Manager
Susan Jennings and Vina Lindley – Maine 4-H Foundation
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension and Maine Campus Compact organized and hosted the Maine Hunger Dialogue, an annual statewide conference designed to engage college, university and high school students to end hunger. Since the project inception, a total of twenty campus and high school teams have been awarded mini-grants to implement their Hunger Alleviation Projects focused on areas such as establishing or maintaining food pantries, re-invigorating community gardens, establishing campus food recovery networks, and implementing additional community fundraisers. The UMaine Cooperative Extension plans to expand this model to include FoodCorps and the 4-H Youth Development programs. FoodCorps is a nationwide team of AmeriCorps leaders who connect kids to real food and help them grow up healthy. FoodCorps is a science-based initiative focusing on two key human conditions. The first is childhood obesity. The second is sustainable healthy foods.
Executive Director, Maine 4-H Foundation
Resource Development Officer
University of Maine Cooperative Extension
Food Systems/ Youth Development Professional/
FoodCorps Maine Host Site Supervisor
University of Maine Cooperative Extension
1-800-287-1426 (in Maine)
Dave Seddon – Maine Farm & Sea Co-op
After successfully driving a 25-30% local food commitment by UMaine’s winning food service contractor, MFSC continues to provide fee-based integrative food service management, consulting services to institutions, marketing assistance for local producers, and collaborating on facility business developments. We benefit members through our quadruple bottom line operations by featuring healthy local agricultural, sea/aquaculture, and value added products in institutions throughout Maine.
Tanya Rucosky – Sunrise Co. Economic Council
Tanya Rucosky, the Local Program Manager from Sunrise County Economic Council in Washington County, gave an update on the Sunrise Food Infrastructure Initiative. She discussed the expansion of the Sunrise Agriculture Micro-loan program, and its potential to spur future growth in Washington County’s agricultural community.
Riley Neugebauer – FINE – Food to Campus event
Riley provided an update on the upcoming regional Farm to Institution Summit taking place April 5-7th, 2017 in Leominster, MA; the recently formed Sodexo Maine Course Advisory Committee; and highlights from the recent Local Foods for Small Campuses Event at Unity College in June 2016.
Jeff Wolovitz – Heiwa Tofu
Past, present, future. Jeff discussed business growth over the past 18 months, the purchase and renovation of his new beanery in Rockport, and described next steps, including a fall crowdfunding campaign and grand opening celebration.
Next Slow Money Maine gathering:
1-4 pm Thursday September 15, 2016
12-1 pm Pre-Meeting Focus Group: Building a Shellfish Economy in Maine