July 4th Safety

June 30th, 2017 3:25 PM

The July 4th weekend is upon us! Though this may mean all fun and games there is always potential for something to go wrong. We have come up with a few publications that may be worth looking at.

  • Food Safety for Camping and Hiking – Camping and hiking are great ways to enjoy the outdoors, however, getting a foodborne illness could definitely put a damper on your vacation. We supply basic tips on how to avoid any mishaps while spending extended time outside.
  • Barbecue and Tailgating Food Safety – Whether you are camping like previously mentioned or having a cookout in your own backyard there are still risks you could definitely avoid with these helpful tips.
  • Mosquito Management & Insect Repellents – Those pesky mosquitoes have officially made their arrival for the summer. This means taking extra precautions so that you can continue enjoying the great outdoors with little disruption.
  • Ticks – While spending time outside it is always good to be aware of the threat of ticks. Be sure to check yourself, your loved ones and your pets for any ticks every time you are outdoors.
  • Fires: Detections and Equipment to Fight Them – Campfires and fireworks will definitely be near and far this holiday weekend so it is important to be aware of all fire safety measures. It’s better safe than sorry.

Now that you have a stockpile of information for every occasion you are fully prepared to enjoy your weekend!

Happy 4th of July!


Maine Food for July: Snap Beans and Cucumbers

June 28th, 2017 10:46 AM
University of Maine Cooperative Extension publishes information to help find, grow, use and store in-season fruits and vegetables in Maine.
Freezing green beans and making homemade pickles are simple and easy ways to increase access to a year-round supply of local foods and reduce food expenses.
UMaine Extension educator Kathy Savoie recommends getting up-to-date information on the best methods, canners, jars and seals to ensure a safe result before preserving food.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension
Recommendations are available through local UMaine Extension offices or by calling 207.581.3188; 800.287.0274 (in Maine). More information, including upcoming food preservation workshops and how-to videos, is online at extension.umaine.edu/food-health.

Children’s Garden at Tidewater Farm: Update

June 26th, 2017 10:26 AM
 (Photos by Amy Witt, UMaine Extension Home Horticulturist and Lynne Hazelton, UMaine Extension Administrative Support Specialist, Agriculture and Horticulture

Construction on the Children’s Garden at Tidewater Farm started last year. This year it will become a fully realized garden, including a fountain, an insect hotel, a bean teepee, a metal sculpture, and more.

The Insect Hotel at Tidewater Farm, children filling it up with found material

The Insect Hotel

The insect hotel was created by Maine College of Art Alumni, Eden McDowell (class of 2017). It was named “The Bug Inn” by the children who visited to fill all the rooms with natural, non-toxic, stable recycled items like pieces of clay, plant pots, pine cones, wood, and straw. Insect hotels provide safe areas for insects to hibernate during the winter. They can be made with found or up cycled materials and consist of rooms designed to meet a variety of insect habitats. To learn more about insect hotels, check out this article by the University of Illinois Extension.

A bare bean teepee set up in the childrens garden at tidewater farm.

The Bean Teepee

The bean teepee will provide the pole beans a trellis to grow on and a shady place for children to sit!

“The support for pole beans should be approximately 6 to 7 feet tall.  In the row, plant pole bean seeds 3 inches apart, later thin to 4 to 6 inches between plants.  Pole beans may also be planted around poles fashioned into a teepee.  Pole beans require a few more days to mature than bush cultivars.  However, they produce over a longer period. “Iowa State University Extension

Snapping Turtle in the Garden

A Visitor in the Garden

It isn’t uncommon see a turtle at Tidewater and this momma snapping turtle has chosen Tidewater Farm as the place to lay her eggs.

Chilrens Garden Transformation 2016-2017

The gardens are open to the public from sunrise to sunset. All are welcome to come visit and enjoy the gardens with a beautiful view of the Presumpscot River. Often you will see a Master Gardener Volunteer working in the garden, please feel free to ask them any questions you may have.

(Please be respectful of all instructors and students while educational programs and workshops are taking place, and please do not interfere with any wildlife. )

Summer Agriculture Workshops

June 9th, 2017 11:32 AM

The purpose of the Cooperative Extension is to give local residents access to the resources and expertise generated from the University of Maine. Through programs, publications and especially workshops. This summer is chalk full of FREE Agriculture workshops for all your farming needs. But what is so beneficial about going?

Tractor at Sunset

Photo Credit by Edwin Remsberg

Answered Questions

There are always new ways to improve productivity or new questions to old processes. Each of the workshops we provide focus on specific topics that you may be wondering about!

Mingling and Marketing

All workshops we produce are led by farmers and other agriculture specialists. Providing the perfect opportunity to meet professionals in the field. Not only does this help promote the Cooperative Extension and local farms but it gives participants a chance to promote themselves as well.

Worth it

Majority of our agriculture workshops throughout the summer are FREE. Allowing an abundance of knowledge for zero cost.


Here is what we have going on so far!

Irrigation and Drought Management

Mechanical Weed Management

No-Till Vegetable Production

Vegetable IPM Field Tour

Pasture Management and Rotational Grazing

Finishing your Livestock

We are constantly thinking of new workshops and ways to bring what we learn out into the local community. And agriculture is just the beginning of what we have to offer! So stay tuned with all of our upcoming workshops through our website!

Happy Farming!


Tussie Mussies Recap

May 25th, 2017 12:23 PM

Before the age of emails and texting there was the art of secret messages via floral arrangements. They called them “Tussie Mussies” and it was just as interesting as it’s name sounds.

Said to originate in the Victorian era, Tussie Mussies are small, round bouquets made up of herbs and flowers that each hold symbolic meaning. Last week, our very own home horticulturist, Amy Witt, led a class on these dainty creations. Amy explained the intricate detailing and meanings of each flower and herb and how to pair them together to create a thoughtful message.

buckets of flowers


There were flowers by the buckets! Each holding a special meaning. White roses for innocent love, baby’s breath for pure heart, and fern for fascination and sincerity.
All of the flowers will provide a number of combinations and messages for each Tussie Mussie created throughout the workshop. We had several women sign up and it was a hit! The results were beautiful!


Here are some of the creations:


Each bouquet is unique, allowing for creativity and personality to shine through. Though the tradition faded away after the Victorian Era the spirit is making its way back with workshops such as this one. Tussie Mussies are a perfect, sentimental gift to give for any occasions such as birthdays or “get well soon” (just be sure to give a key of your floral meanings as well).

When words are not enough these thoughtful bouquets can speak wonders.

Fiddleheads and Ruhbarb: Maine for May

May 11th, 2017 8:00 AM

By: Kathy Savoie, UMaine Extension Educator

University of Maine Cooperative Extension publishes information to help you find, grow, use, preserve and store in-season fruits and vegetables in Maine. Visit extension.umaine.edu to order or download bulletins to fit the season, including May favorites such as Bulletin # 4198 Facts on Fiddleheads, Bulletin #4060 Facts on Edible Wild Greens in Maine, and Bulletin # 4266 Fruits for Health: Rhubarb.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has investigated a number of outbreaks of food-borne illness picked fiddleheadsassociated with fiddleheads. The implicated ferns were eaten either raw or lightly cooked (sautéed, parboiled or microwaved).   The findings of this investigation recommend that you should cook fiddleheads thoroughly before eating (boil them for at least 15 minutes or steam for 10 – 12).

UMaine Extension educator Kathy Savoie recommends getting up-to-date information on the best methods, canners, jars and seals to use to ensure a safe result before preserving food. Recommendations are available from local UMaine Extension offices and online at extension.umaine.edu/food-health, including upcoming food preservation workshops and how-to videos. For more information, call 207.581.3188; 800.287.0274 (in Maine).

2017 Master Gardener Plant Sale

May 10th, 2017 4:15 PM

By Kathleen McNerney, UMaine Extension Home Horticulture Coordinator (Second photo by Lynne Hazelton.)

MG Annual Plant Sale 2017
Although Spring seems to be off to a slow start, the Cumberland County Master Gardeners are in full swing, spring mode The Annual Cumberland County Master Gardener Plant Sale will take place on Saturday May 20th from 8am-noon at the Barron Center, located at 1145 Brighton Ave, in Portland. In addition to vegetable and herb seedlings and annuals and perennials there will be an exemplary selection of Maine Native plants and pollinator plants.

Due to the recent devastation caused by the invasive species Operophtera brumata, more commonly referred to as winter moth, all of the plants that are donated to the plant sale will be taken to bare root status and re-potted in sterilized pots and clean potting soil. This will eliminate the potential for the spread of this virulent little pest.

MG Plant Sale 2016

Master Gardeners will be on hand to assist and advise you on plant selections. Other fun items for sale will be ‘Gently Used Garden Tools’ as well as books, bagged organic compost, pre-started potato buckets, and new this year, homemade strawberry and blueberry shortcakes. Garbage to Gardens will be there giving out one month free memberships and there will be fun activities for the kids as well. Jock Robie will be there with his vermiculture display (worm composting) and the Cumberland County Water Conservation team will help kids make their very own seed balls, filled with seeds of native and pollinator plants. We will also be selling the Annual Calendar Raffle with each entry having 30 chances to win fabulous prices every day in June.

All of the proceeds from the plant sale go back into the Master Gardener program in the form of ‘Seed Grants’ for various Master Gardener projects which focus on education of the public and remediation of food insecurity, through the Maine Harvest for Hunger program. So you will not only get great plants at a great price, with expert advise, but your purchase will help support Mainers who may be food insecure.

So buy your plants from those who grow them and know them!

Preparing for Your Backyard Poultry Flock

May 4th, 2017 2:34 PM

By Jason Lilley, UMaine Extension Cumberland Sustainable Agriculture Professional

a pair of chickens

It’s the time of year when many families are heading to their local garden center or farm to pick up their backyard poultry flock. There are several things to consider and prepare before picking up those birds to ensure that the birds are healthy and productive.

The first step is to decide what type of birds you want.

  • Ask yourself, do you want the birds for eggs, meat, to show, or a combination of these. Check out this fact sheet on Matching your Need to the Right Breed for ideas on breeds that might fit your family’s needs.

Be prepared before picking up your chicks.

  • Clean your brooder house before picking up the chicks.
  • Apply 2 to 4 inches of clean, dry litter to the floor.
  • Set up safe heating lamps. During the first week after receiving your chicks, they should have access to an area that is 95 degrees F. If the chicks are all huddled near the lamp, or far away from it, adjust accordingly to make them more comfortable. More information about lighting can be found here.
  • Have clean accessible water available. Try to minimize the amount of shavings and manure that the chicks can throw in the water, and plan to clean the waterer regularly.
  • Have the appropriate “starter” feed on hand. This mix has a higher protein content and often contains medication against the coccidiosis

Next, make sure to get your chicks from a reputable source and ensure that they have been vaccinated.

  • Getting your chicks from hatcheries approved through the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) will reduce the risk of your chicks carrying diseases. The chicks should also be vaccinated to prevent future illnesses. Check with your supplier about vaccination and certifications that the hatchery may carry.
  • For more details about getting started with a backyard flock, check out this Fact Sheet; Giving Chicks a Good Start.

For more information on managing your flock throughout the season see click here, or contact your local Cooperative Extension office.

Master Food Preserver Applications Still Available

April 28th, 2017 9:00 AM

There is still time to apply to the Master Food Preserver program!

CC Volunteer #s

The Master Food Preserver program in Cumberland County is the only one of its kind in Maine. Each year 12 Master Food Preserver volunteers are trained to extend the reach of UMaine Food Preservation education to over 6,000 Maine youth and adults. They teach the value of growing and eating locally grown produce, how to prepare food safely for high nutritional value, how to preserve food safely, economically and efficiently, and how to adopt safe food handling practices. Upon graduation, Master Food Preservers serve as volunteers and resources in the community to provide the public with research-based information from UMaine Extension and USDA.

The 10 part hands-on kitchen labs will be held on Tuesdays, 5:30pm-8:30pm starting June until September. The course covers food preservation techniques including canning, drying, freezing, fermenting and winter storage as well as important food safety information.

Class size is limited and those interested are required to fill out an application. Applications are still being accepted for the 2017 Master Food Preserver class. The application can be accessed here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/KZXZC88. Applications and letters of reference are due no later than Friday, May 5 by 4:30PM. For a physical application, please call 207.781.6099 or visit 75 Clearwater Drive Suite 104 Falmouth, ME 04105.


National Volunteer Week – 4-H Volunteers

April 27th, 2017 5:32 PM

 By Sara Conant, 4-H Community Education Assistant & Administrative Specialist

In honor of National Volunteer Week we would like to highlight our 4-H volunteers! 4-H is a national organization for youth ages 9-18 to learn life skills through hands on work in a variety of project areas. 4-H programming occurs in libraries, afterschool clubs, through classroom enrichment with 4-H Science Toolkits, at 4-H Camps, and in 4-H Clubs. Community 4-H Clubs are the signature 4-H activity in most all of Maine, but particularly in Cumberland County where we have the largest club program in Maine with 22 4-H clubs, focusing on a variety of topics.

Those who call our office looking for 4-H programs usually assume that each club and activity is run by our staff. 4-H Volunteer BlogWhile many of our outreach programs for libraries and afterschool organizations, as well as our 4-H Special Interest Summer Clubs are taught by either Mitch Mason, Extension Educator, or Sara Conant, 4-H Community Asst., the truth is our signature 4-H activity, community clubs, could not happen without our 80 volunteers. While I love petting a fluffy lamb, or fuzzy beef critter, and enjoy my time spent at the fair monitoring these shows, I know I am not the person you want teaching your children about how to pick out a livestock animal with good confirmation, and prepare it for a show, etc. I leave that up to our wonderful, knowledgeable volunteers. For the programs that I teach, including our 4-H Summer Special Interest clubs in horses and foods, I stick to what I know well.

Our club leaders and volunteers consist of former 4-H members, parents of both current & past 4-Her’s, and other community members who believe in our mission of creating positive experiential learning experiences for youth. Volunteers must be 18+ and go through a series of steps and trainings to become a 4-H certified volunteer but the whole process only takes about six hours to complete and much of it can be done at your own pace. To learn more about the requirements to become a 4-H volunteer please visit https://extension.umaine.edu/4h/volunteers/how-do-i-become-a-volunteer/.

Teen Council Member Matt teaching Cloverbuds about his 4-H Rabbit Project.

Teen Council Member Matthew teaching Cloverbuds about his 4-H Rabbit Project.

4-H volunteers are club leaders, project leaders, or episodic volunteers (serving on various committees including the Awards Committee, 4-H Kitchen at the Cumberland Fair, 4-H Exhibit Hall Committee at the Cumberland Fair and more). To learn more about the various volunteer opportunities available in Cumberland County 4-H please visit https://extension.umaine.edu/cumberland/programs/cumberland-county-4-h/volunteer/.

In addition to adult volunteers we also have teen volunteers. Along with leadership roles that most 4-H clubs offer their members, we also offer two distinct programs available for teens who want to expand their leadership toolbox. In the Summer teens can volunteer for our Summer of Science Program to teach youth at local Summer Food Sites science activities one day a week for six weeks. The SOS program is open to 4-H & non-4-H teens and gives them the tools to become teachers and leaders to younger youth. Throughout the year we also offer the Teen Council for youth to help plan both Winterfest (awards ceremony), and Mini-Forum (a day of workshops). Teen Council members are current 4-H members from a variety of clubs who come together to learn event planning & management skills, organization, public speaking, and more.

For more information about any of the volunteer opportunities mentioned or any of our other 4-H programs please email or call Sara Conant, sara.conant@maine.edu, 207-781-6099.