2019 Beginning Farmer Workshops at the Ag Trades Show

State of Maine Agricultural Trades Show

AUGUSTA (Jan. 2, 2019) – A coalition of agricultural agencies in Maine will again focus on the needs of beginning farmers this year during the Maine Agricultural Trades Show, Jan. 15-17, 2019, at the Augusta Civic Center. See the full schedule, directions, and exhibitor maps & info here (link).

Since nearly a third of Maine’s farmers identify as “beginning farmers,” the Beginning Farmer Resource Network (BFRN) will host a series of workshops and talks to help new and aspiring farmers in Maine navigate the various programs and services available to help them succeed in new agricultural enterprises.

Beginning farmers know better than anyone that there is no instruction manual for your first decade in agriculture,” said Tori Lee Jackson, University of Maine Associate Professor of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and BFRN member. “As a coalition of agricultural agencies and organizations, the Beginning Farmer Resource Network is working to help aspiring and beginning farmers find their ‘farm business success’ in an easy and practical manner.”

BFRN will host a variety of programs throughout this year’s Maine Agricultural Trades Show, with special workshops on Wednesday, Jan. 16., focusing on topics including soil health, problem solving, and woodland management. While the free BFRN workshops focus on the needs of aspiring and beginning farmers, they are open to all who are interested in attending.

The trade show also features a networking room for BFRN and a documentary series called “Growing Maine” from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

Workshop: Digging into Soils

Wednesday, January 16, 2019, 9 a.m. – 11 a.m., Aroostook/Androscoggin Room

Join State Soil Scientist Dave Rocque, UMaine Extension Sustainable Agriculture Professional Jason Lilley, and collaborating farmers to discuss innovative strategies to improve soil health. In this practical session you will learn how different soil types influence your management strategies and what methods farmers are using to best increase their soil health, decrease fertility needs and improve soil water management.


  • Jason Lilley (UMaine Cooperative Extension)
  • Dave Rocque (State Soil Scientist)

Farmer Stories:

  • Ben Rooney (Wild Folk Farm, Benton)
  • Edie Johnston (Eldertide Farm & Maine Medicinals, Dresden Mills)

Workshop: Gearing up after Buying Land

Wednesday, January 16, 2019, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., Piscataquis Room

You’ve purchased your farm land, now how do you set up the infrastructure to make it work for you now and into the future? Learn how farmers have worked with technical service providers to realize their production and financial goals.

Introductions from USDA Service Providers: 

  • Susan Arrants (NRCS State Conservationist)
  • Candi Gilpatric (NRCS Engineer)
  • Stephanie Gilbert (DACF Farm Viability/Farmland Protection)
  • Morten Moesswilde (DACF Maine Forest Service; Mid-Coast District Forester for Kennebec, Knox, Lincoln, Waldo Counties)


  • Seren & Steven Sinisi (Old Crow Ranch, Durham)
  • Kevin Leavitt (Farmer Kev’s Organic, West Gardiner)

Workshop: Problem Solving Resources: Figuring out who to call

Wednesday, January 16, 2019, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m., Aroostook/Androscoggin Room

Hear from experienced farmers who’ve worked with professional agricultural and business service providers to solve a variety of problems on their farms. Learn how service providers can help you identify problems and strategize/plan solutions to become trusted members of your professional resource team.


  • Seren & Steven Sinisi (Old Crow Ranch, Durham)
  • Randy Canaar (Souder Station Farm, Winterport)
  • Melissa Law (Bumbleroot Organic Farm, Windham)

Workshop: Making Your Woods Work For You

Wednesday, January 16, 2019, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m., Piscataquis Room

Your woodlands can be an economic and ecological asset for your farm. Learn how you can work with local professionals to make a plan and realize the resource beyond your field’s edge. Program features farmers and professionals from the Maine Forest Service, Natural Resource Conservation Service, UMaine Cooperative Extension and Maine Soil & Water Conservation Districts.

Ag Service Provider Presenters: 

  • Andy Shultz, Maine Forest Service (District Forester Services)
  • Amanda Burton, NRCS District Conservationist (Forest Mgt Plans, Forestry Practices)
  • Hildy Ellis, MACD (Technical Assistance/Education, iMap Invasives)
  • Dave Fuller, UMaine Cooperative Extension (Non-Timber Forest Products)

Landowner/Customer Stories:

  • Tracy Moskovitz (Hidden Valley Nature Center, Jefferson)
  • Robert Zundel (Farmington)
  • Bob Campbell (Wolf Creek Farm, Sydney)
  • Tara Marble (Beaten Path Farm, Fayette)


BFRN Networking Room

Knox Room, January 15th, 16th, and 17th  

Farmers are welcomed to connect one-on-one with farmers and agricultural service providers and find resources for farm business success. A schedule with the service providers and topics will be posted outside the room.


Growing Maine Documentary Series

Also featured at the Trades Show is the Growing Maine documentary series from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

Growing Maine is a video storytelling series about farmers and food producers. Have a seat and watch these short stories (about five minutes each) featuring Maine farmers and food-based businesses.

  • Family farms and how they start
  • How Maine family farms and food producers make decisions
  • What’s really important to help a family farm business succeed
  • “How do they do that?” Behind the scenes of local food production

Preview the videos here (link)!


What is a beginning farmer?

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), “a beginning farmer is someone who has operated a farm for ten years or less.” Since this definition is used for all USDA beginning farmer loan programs, it has become the most commonly accepted definition. Nearly one third of the farmers in Maine reported having 10 years or less of experience on their present farm, according to the latest USDA 2012 Agricultural Census.

The Beginning Farmer Resource Network of Maine (BFRN) a coalition of Maine agricultural agencies & organizations working together to connect aspiring and beginning farmers to resources for farm business success.

For more information visit the BFRN website at: https://extension.umaine.edu/beginning-farmer-resource-network/ or contact Tori Jackson: (207) 353-5500 or  Stephanie Gilbert: (207) 287-7520.