Wild Blueberry Newsletter October 2020

Wild Blueberry Newsletter header graphic, text and a photo of blueberries and leaves

October 2020

Growers, Processors, and Stakeholders,

There are many opportunities and important announcements this month!

State of the Industry Survey

Please take some time this fall to complete our UMaine comprehensive survey of Maine wild blueberry production and markets. Postcards were mailed out this summer with information about this survey that can be taken either via phone or online. If you received a postcard, use the code provided to fill out the survey. If you did not receive or have lost your code, please contact Dr. Jonathan Malacarne at 207.581.3198.

USITC 201 Global Safeguard Survey

The United States International Trade Commission’s domestic producer questionnaire for the USITC’s 201 Global Safeguard Investigation of blueberries (inclusive of wild) was released recently. This questionnaire is long and will take time. If you want your opinions and data to be considered by the USITC as they make decisions that will affect the sale of Canadian blueberries in the US, you must fill out this survey. Refer to the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine’s emailer Wild Blue for more information. If you are not on the mailing list, email Nancy England (England@maine.edu) to request being added the Commission’s list. Access the survey by November 16, 2020. Once on this page, scroll down to the last table and click on “US Producer” to access the appropriate survey.

FSMA Farmer Trainings Coming Up

If you sell more than $28K in produce annually (take an average of your last 3 years of sales) and more than half of your crop is sold to a wholesale market to be frozen, then you are FULLY COVERED by the FSMA Produce Safety Rule. If your farm meets these criteria, you MUST have at least one person from your farm trained by attending a Produce Safety Grower Training. There will only be two offerings of the course this winter:

  • November 5 & 6 (Virtual, 4 hours each day)
  • December 11 & 18 (Virtual, 4 hours each day)

Registration and More Information

Food Safety Improvement Grants

Caleb Goossen of MOFGA is pleased to announce the Maine Produce Safety Improvement Grants (MPSIG) opportunity to help Maine’s conventional and organic specialty crop growers implement on-farm food safety practices, transition to compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule (PSR) and meet market demands for on-farm food safety. Money is available to help farms take on these challenges through a Specialty Crop Block Grant.

Applications must be for Maine farms engaged in production agriculture of specialty crops for commercial purposes that gross at least $10,000 in annual sales. Proposed projects are restricted to improving the food safety of specialty crops (including wild blueberry).
How to Apply:
Request for Applications (RFA) Released: October 9, 2020
Application Deadline: December 15, 2020, at 11:59 p.m.

Northeast SARE Farmer Grant Program

Applications Due by 5 p.m. on November 17, 2020
The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program Farmer Grants deadline is November 17 at 5:00 p.m. ET. Farmer Grants provide research funds (up to $15,000) for commercial farms to explore new ideas in almost any aspect of production, marketing and other topics that influence successful farming in the 12 Northeast states and the District of Columbia. Reviewers look for innovation, potential for improved sustainability and results that will be useful to other farmers. Application materials, including detailed instructions and supporting documents, are posted on the Northeast SARE website at www.northeastsare.org/FarmerGrant. You can contact Lily (lily.calderwood@maine.edu) or Tom Malloy (thomas.molloy@maine.edu) for technical assistance and any questions.

Do you have any remote work that UMaine students could help you with on your farm?

Dr. Rachel Schattman is the newest addition to our UMaine School of Food and Agriculture faculty. She is teaching a senior-level service learning course for sustainable agriculture and environmental horticulture students this spring at UMaine. Normally, service learning is a great opportunity to get students out in the field for some hands-on experience. Because of COVID-19, however, she is going to run the service learning component as a remote-only option. Examples of projects may include: a) helping to spiff up your website, b) creating content for CSA newsletters (recipes etc.) that could be used the following summer, c) organizing your harvest records (if you have them) into a usable form, and much more. Basically, if it can be done remotely and it’s legal, it’s worth discussing. If this peaks your interest, please reach out to Rachel at rachel.schattman@maine.edu or 207.581.2913.

New Agricultural Plastics Recycling Program

Greenhouse plastic can now be recycled at Blueberry Hill Farm in Jonesboro. This is a new program started by UMaine Cooperative Extension in Waldo County, which has now become a statewide Extension program. Learn more!

Upcoming Events

Recipe to Market Workshop (Virtual)
November 20, 2020 from 9:00-11:30
This workshop will introduce participants to important topics that an aspiring entrepreneur needs to consider before starting a food business. Topics that will be presented include: opportunities and challenges of being a food entrepreneur, the specialty food industry, business basics, an overview of the product development process, licensing and regulations, and food safety concerns.
Sign up by email: theresa.tilton@maine.edu or by phone: 207.942.7396
Online Registration and More Information

Online Pesticide Credit
Online Sprayer Calibration Course is available for you to take at your convenience for one pesticide applicator credit.

Produce Safety Trainings
November 5 & 6 (Virtual, 4 hours each day)
December 11 & 18 (Virtual, 4 hours each day)
Sign up by email: theresa.tilton@maine.edu or by phone: 207.942.7396
Online Registration and More Information

UMaine Wild Blueberry Conference
The conference this year will be offered through a series of 1-2 hour long sessions online vis zoom. This workshop and talk series will take place weekly from January through February. We’re working on ways to include sponsors and in-person viewing locations for those without computer or internet access. I’m excited about some of the sessions already lined up. Stay tuned!