Maine Calling: Farming in Maine

Wednesday’s episode of Maine Calling on MPBN focuses on what it takes to be successful at farming in Maine and what resources are available to get started.

Maine is bucking a national trend – as farms and farmland shrink in other states, the number of new farms in Maine has been on the rise for more than a decade. What does it take to be a small farmer in Maine?  Where can new farmers turn to get help? We’ll learn what it takes to till the land and make a living as a farmer in Maine.

Sam Hayward will appear on the show today on a segment about the novel Sweetbitter,

We’ll hear from the author about her life as a waitress at an upscale restaurant in NYC, how much of the book is based on her own experiences, and we’ll be joined by a Maine restaurateur and by a Maine writer to get their take on food, restaurants and writing.

CEI $10k Matching Challenge

CEI—the nonprofit community development corporation Coastal Enterprise Inc—has received a matching challenge from Newman’s Own Foundation to raise $10,000 over the next 7 days. If CEI is successful, Newman’s Own will match the funds with an additional $10k.

CEI plans to devote the money to “help create economic opportunity for young farmers and food related businesses in rural Maine”.

Global food security starts on the farm and requires a strong and vibrant system that supports farmers, producers, the value chain, consumers and the environment. In the rural state of Maine, Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) provides loans and technical assistance to smaller, low-income players in innovative farm-food businesses, helping them to increase production, create a livelihood, and connect to markets.

Reversing a generational decline, there are 2,000 more Maine farms with 100,000 more acres in production than 30 years ago. From 2007 to 2012, Maine farmers under 35 increased by 40%. Help us build the foundations of our local food systems to spur sustainable economic growth and revitalization.

You can help CEI meet their goal by making a donation online at Crowdrise. The deadline for the matching challenge is December 1st.

New Winter Farmers’ Market Location

The winter edition of the Farmers’ Market starts on December 5th. This year the market is moving to a new home at 84 Cove Street which is just around the corner in East Bayside from the Urban Farm Fermentory.

The winter market began February 13, 2010. In its first year it was located at 85 Free Street, for the next 2 years it operated out of the Irish Heritage Center and it has been held at the Urban Farm Fermentory for the past 2 seasons.

Ocean Approved Kelp Farming

Today’s Boston Globe includes a report on Ocean Approved’s seaweed aquaculture operation.

At the vanguard of New England’s nascent seaweed farming industry is Paul Dobbins, president and cofounder of Ocean Approved, a kelp farming operation based in Portland, Maine.

“The majority of seaweed gets imported from Asia,” Dobbins said. “We see an opportunity to provide a local alternative to that, and the response has been tremendous.”

Bumper Crop of Apples

Today’s Press Herald features a story on this year’s bumper crop of apples in Maine.

Experts and apple orchard owners say a combination of factors is likely behind this year’s bumper crop. Apple trees tend to be cyclical, so this year’s higher yield follows a lighter harvest last year. Good spring and summer weather also played a role, although the warm late-summer conditions have pushed back the ripening for some popular varieties by a week or two.

Maine Heirloom Apples

appletastingThe Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald reports on the growing interest in heirloom apples.

Bendzela and Essman are among a growing number of Mainers who have developed an appreciation for heirloom varieties of apples that for the most part disappeared with the rise of big agriculture. They have replanted varieties that were originally grown on the farm and added more that were once popular in Maine – apples with different textures, unusual tastes and whimsical names, such as King of Tompkins County, Fallawater, Esopus Spitzenburg (a favorite of Thomas Jefferson) and Hubbardston’s Nonesuch.

The paper also has an article on vegetarian chef and Maine-native Matthew Kenney.

Matthew Kenney’s restaurants and books are a force in the plant-based food world, but his biggest influence may be in the new chefs he teaches.

Seaweed and Maine Seaweed Festival

Today’s Press Herald includes an article about the Maine Seaweed Festival and the rising interest of seaweed as a cooking ingredient.

But the story is a good metaphor for what’s going on in the world of seaweed right now. Consumers are discovering a local food source that has been around for millennia, but has rarely been used in American cooking and is little known except when ordered in a dish at a Japanese restaurant. Now Americans and western Europeans are beginning to embrace it, and at the same time realizing here in Maine that we’ve got our own handy local supply right on the coast.

Visit seaweedfest.com for more information on the Maine Seaweed Festival.

Out on a Limb Apple CSA

The Out on a Limb heirloom apple CSA is now signing up members for this Fall. Shares are $150 and get you 5 deliveries of ¼ bushel each which contain “varieties of rare and highly flavored apples with a wide range of uses, appearances, histories and flavors”. See the OOAL website for more info.

Source: Rabbits & Sustainable Breweries

Today’s edition of Source in the Maine Sunday Telegram includes articles on the increase in rabbit farming,

Central Provisions usually has a rabbit-based dish on both the lunch and dinner menu, like a rabbit confit panini and a smoked rabbit salad. Gould goes through about 45 pounds of rabbit a week. Other high-end Portland restaurants that serve or have served rabbit include Hugo’s, Petite Jacqueline, Emilitsa (in phyllo with spinach and feta) and Sur Lie. Up the coast, it appears on the menus at Primo in Rockland and Francine Bistro in Camden.

and the steps Maine brewers are taking to be more sustainable.

Since water accounts for up to 95 percent of beer’s content, Nathan Sanborn of Rising Tide Brewing Company says his company’s sustainability efforts focus on water conservation. His team monitors water usage and has consolidated equipment-cleaning procedures so less water and cleaning chemicals can be used to sanitize more gear. These efforts have helped the company cut usage by 35 percent.

Maine Food System Infrastructure

The Press Herald has a report on the critical need to invest in the state food processing infrastructure to support the continued growth of the local food system.

Cheerleaders for Maine’s food industry say a Renaissance is underway that ultimately could return the state to its former prominence as the food basket of the Northeast.

However, they cautioned that vital infrastructure must be built – or in some cases rebuilt – for that to happen.

Leaders in farming, food service, beer brewing, coffee making and other food-related businesses in Maine met with real estate developers Tuesday in Portland to sell them on the idea of investing in infrastructure …