Farms for Maine’s Future: Comprehensive, Sustainable Strategies Using Teams
Through this project, 20 Maine farmers will develop and implement comprehensive management strategies tailored to their specific circumstances. The program was promoted through distribution of brochures, press release, posting of legal notice, communication with all government and non-government farm agencies and organizations, 3 workshops, and agricultural events. A five member Review panel was appointed. A service provider database was established. Ninety farmers requested applications. Thirty-two were submitted of which 15 were granted for the first round.
Of the 130 Maine farmers (from small or medium sized farms) actively engaged in this project, 20 farmers will both increase farm profits and enhance the environment by the end of the project (November 2004).
Implementation of new production or marketing practices is expected to result in the following changes:
-Economic Change. Increase farm profits by at least 20% (on average) by the end of the project.
-Environmental Change. Enhance the environment by: a) reducing use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and other external inputs; b) reducing the amount of nutrients that threaten water quality; and c) saving energy through reduced transportation of farm inputs and outputs.
8/24 Agreement signed for services between Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources (MDAFRR) and CEI.
9/5 A brochure was developed to introduce the program to farmers. It included a questionnaire requesting preliminary information from interested farmers. This information would be used in designing workshops. 1,173 were mailed to MDAFRR mailing list.
9/5 10 brochures, a proposed newsletter piece and a page of additional information for farm agencies was mailed to 33 Extension and SWCD offices.
9/13 Mailing of newsletter copy, additional information and brochure sent to 38 Ag Associations.
9/19 Brochures were mailed to 608 on the MOFGA farmer mailing list
9/27 A five member review panel was established. The panel consists of the Commissioner of Agriculture, a past Commissioner of Agriculture who now heads the Sustainable Agriculture program at the University of Maine, a dairy farmer, a State Senator and the head of Farm Credit.
9/27 A solicitation for service providers was begun.
10/5 A database was established to organize service provider and farm information, and to track the program.
10/9 60 questionnaires were received. Three farms were picked from the questionnaires and teams were assemble for them as demonstrations for the workshops.
10/11 Press release sent all papers statewide about the program and the coming workshops.
10/11 Applications were sent to 60 farms.
10/18-20 Published legal notices in the Bangor Daily News, Kennebec Journal, and Portland Press Herald announcing the program.
10/25 Newport workshop, 13 farms represented
11/3 Bar Harbor workshop, 20 farms represented
11/6 Falmouth workshop, 12 farms represented
11/7 Sent criteria and additional information gleaned from workshops to all 90 farms that requested applications.
11/26 32 applications from 13 counties were received representing 4,938 acres.
12/18 Review Panel chose 15 farms in 10 counties for grants representing 1,735 acres. (116 acre average)