Our first SMM gathering since Spring brought together a varied group of familiar and new network participants. In Bonnie’s opening remarks, she shared the especially difficult aspects of summer for producers, including drought and workforce issues, cancelled milk contracts, along with financing and facility development needs. Though she reiterated the daunting aspects of creating a new food economy in the grip of an industrialized, corporate-driven food system, along with the heavy issues of politics, climate change, and economics, Bonnie took time to honor some of the brighter moments of the season. She honored Sam May and Scott Budde for their dedicated commitment to finally reach their $2mm+ goal for the Maine Harvest Credit Union, which can now move closer to completing application details and hopefully open for business by the middle of next year. She also acknowledged Jonah Fertig and the Somali Bantu farmers who had their grand opening of a food truck in Lewiston last weekend with great community response. Other notable event included new SMM videos, focused on investment clubs, grain growing collaborations, and local fisheries. She also mentioned herself being honored as one of Maine Magazine’s “50 Mainers” and the upcoming celebration at St. Joseph’s College.
Bonnie also offered some perspectives about our choices in foods we buy and eat as agricuktural, political, and social acts. These choices obviously have economic, spiritual, and health impacts as well. She shared a story from Eleanor Kinney who regularly attends meetings in Portland related to the environment. When she observed that food served had no connection to local producers, she mentioned it to her meeting hosts and in a fairly short time, the organizations switched catering services to Local Sprouts, a worker-owned co-operative in Portland that features local and organic products. Many of us can make a tangible difference in awareness and actions related to a healthy food system so she encouraged everyone to do so.
Focus Group: New Ways of Doing Business: Jonah/ CDI – Co-ops, Merritt Carey/Luke’s Lobster – B Corps
Mike Gold/Crave Food Systems
Crave Food Systems is a food tech company building software and hardware that has the ability to positively affect local economies and enable our food system to become more dependent on food their own community can produce. Crave’s core technology, WhatsGood, is an eCommerce marketplace that connects buyers with local food vendors, growers, and artisans. The platform supports local food ecosystems by evolving the way consumers and purchasers find and purchase from their local sources. WhatsGood is currently connecting buyers looking for local food with producers in over 40 states and has helped them sell more than $1m. WhatsGood enables more than 200 farmers markets nationally, to have custom branded eCommerce mobile applications.
Anne Chase/Chase Stream Farm
Tim and Anne Devin are retired U.S. Marines with nearly 50 years of active duty service between them. They have lived and served overseas and across the United States in both peace and wartime. In 2016, drawn to the challenge and healing powers of agriculture, they established Chase Stream Farm in Monroe, Maine.
Their new venture, AGROW Academy, is the next step in providing aspiring military veteran growers and farmers the education and training they need to manage or to successfully launch their own sustainable farming enterprise.
AGROW Academy will arm its students with knowledge, skills, and abilities in the core competencies of:
- Organic vegetable and fruit production
- Poultry operations – broilers and layers
- Livestock – sheep and pigs
- Maple Syrup production
- Value-added food production
- Farm business skills
Curriculum development and student housing are the next steps in equipping military veterans to help reverse the trend of large-scale ecologically and sociologically unsustainable industrial mass food production.
Colles Stowell/One Fish Foundation
One Fish Foundation is a 501(c)3 whose mission is to bring the sustainable seafood message into classrooms and communities via engaged discussions so consumers of all ages more closely consider their impact on marine ecosystems, the seafood they eat, and the fishermen who harvest it.
One Fish Foundation has grown steadily since its inception in 2015. We develop relationships with teachers to map sustainable seafood conservation messages to where students are in their curricula. These students bring the message into their communities about why people should care where, when, how and by whom their seafood was harvested. They learn how the Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 99% of the oceans on the planet, and how this affects everything from green crabs to lobster. Regardless of age, increasing the number of educated consumers can help change the dynamic that 90% of the seafood eaten in the U.S. is imported.
One Fish Foundation incorporates hands-on experiences in the classroom. Elementary and middle school students handle different commercial fishing gear types, ranging from gill net to a turtle excluder device while discussing the ecological impact of different harvest methods.
High school students dive into climate change impacts on seafood, handling live European green crabs while learning how such invasive species impact local ecosystems, and the affect of warming waters and ocean acidification on lobster populations and other seafood. With college students, we discuss more in-depth climate change impacts such as current change and glacial melt, along with seafood policy and socio-economic factors.
We also host sustainable seafood dinners in which attendees get to talk to the fishermen who harvested the seafood they are eating to broaden their perspective on why their choices matter.
We can change that 90% import statistic, one conversation at a time.
Merritt Carey/Maine Aquaculture Cooperative
The Maine Aquaculture Co-op (Co-op) is Maine’s first aquaculture cooperative, with a board and membership comprised of Maine fishermen and aquaculturists. We seek to expand Maine’s seafood-producing industries through the thoughtful integration of fishing and farming, to diversify income opportunities for Maine fishermen, maintain our robust working waterfront, and strengthen our coastal communities. By working cooperatively, we are better able to solve technical difficulties, share best practices and resources, and leverage buying and marketing power.
The Maine Aquaculture Co-op was formed under Maine’s Fish Marketing Association law, intended to promote, foster and encourage the intelligent and orderly marketing of fish and fishery products through cooperation; to eliminate speculation and waste; to make the distribution of fish and fishery products between producer and consumer as direct as can be efficiently done; and to stabilize the marketing of fish and fishery products.
Maine Aquaculture Co-op
Box 486, 12 Commercial Street
Tenants Harbor, Maine 04860
Merritt Carey: firstname.lastname@example.org
Betsy Garrold/Food for Maine’s Future
Bri Warner/Ocean Approved
Claude Rwaganje/Prosperity Maine