Farm Scoop May 2011

New UMaine Extension Website for New Farmers!

We are very pleased to announce “New Farmers,” our new website created especially for beginning farmers. The site includes videos, FAQs, fact sheets, and links to many other resources there to support Maine citizens who are considering becoming farmers or who have recently started farming. The FAQ section is being built with your questions, so don’t be shy in submitting those to us! We welcome your comments on the new site.

Livestock 101

A basic livestock care workshop for small-scale producers will be held May 14, 2011, 9am – 4pm at the American Legion, 21 College Ave in Waterville. The following species will be covered: beef cattle, dairy cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses, ponies, chickens and other poultry. Topics will include feed and shelter requirements, preventative health care, organic and conventional management, and the basics of recordkeeping and marketing.

The fee is $20/person (includes lunch & program materials). Scholarships are available for half the fee. Pre-registration is required.  Please send your name, address, phone, email and check made out to UMaine Extension to Melissa Libby, Hitchner Hall, UMaine Extension, Orono, ME 04469.  For more information call 207.581.2788 or 1.800.287.0274 (toll free in Maine) or email Melissa.  Also, please list the types of livestock you are raising or interested in raising.

Northeast Livestock Expo 2011

The Maine Beef Producers, The Maine Sheep Breeders Association and the Boer Goat Breeders of Maine have again joined together to present the annual Northeast Livestock Expo on the Windsor Fairgrounds May 20-22, 2011. The livestock expo draws beef cattle, sheep, boer goats, rabbits, equine and alpaca for shows, youth events and auctions. A full schedule of events is available on the website.

Preserving the Harvest: Hands-on Food Preservation Workshop

Ever wonder how to preserve all those great garden vegetables? This hands-on food preservation workshop, led by Program Aide and Master Food Preserver Kate McCarty, will teach you the basic steps for canning and freezing. This workshop, sponsored by UMaine Cooperative Extension, will be held Tuesday May 24th from 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the new UMaine Regional Learning Center in Falmouth. The fee is $10/person. For more information and to register, contact: Lois Elwell at 207.780.4205 or 1.800.287.1471 (toll free in Maine). Participants are asked to bring a pot holder to class.

USDA Announces May Deadline for Biomass Crop Assistance Program Proposals

Farm Service Agency Acting Administrator Val Dolcini announced the deadline for project area proposals for the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). To be considered, proposals must be submitted to the applicable state office by close of business, May 27, 2011.

“The nation that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy will be the nation that leads the 21st century. BCAP can help rural communities save money, create jobs and improve air quality while reducing the demand for fossil fuels,” said Dolcini. “I encourage all those interested in participating in this program to contact their Farm Service Agency (FSA) state office for details.”

BCAP was authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill and provides incentives to eligible farmers, ranchers and forest landowners for the establishment and production of biomass crops for heat, power, bio-based products and biofuels. BCAP project areas are specific geographic areas where producers grow eligible biomass crops. Producers then receive annual payments for growing those crops.

MOFGA Farm Apprenticeships

Learn diverse farming skills through the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) Farm Apprenticeship Program. Options include working on a dairy farm, sheep farm, organic vegetable farm, CSA’s, greenhouse operations, and much more! No prerequisites are required, other than a devoted and sincere interest in learning organic and mostly manual agricultural practices, and a willingness to work long, hard hours. Opportunities are available primarily during the growing season: March-October, but year round opportunities are available as well. Compensation is farm-specific, though generally apprentices are given stipends and optional living arrangements. Details and application information are available on the website.

USDA 2011 Organic Farming Systems Conference Webinars

Several workshops at the USDA’s Organic Farming Systems Conference were recorded and are available as free webinars online courtesy of eXtension. Topics include ‘Organic Grains’ presented by UMaine’s Ellen Mallory, and Cornell University’s ‘Organic Cropping Systems Project.’ eXtension is an educational partnership of 74 universities in the United States.

Maine Compost School

Are you considering adding a commercial composting operation to your farm? Compost can be a great way to manage organic waste products and add a revenue stream to your farm business. The University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources (DAF&RR), Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and Maine State Planning Office (SPO) offer the award-winning, international Maine Compost School. The objective of the Maine Compost School is to provide training to people interested and/or involved with medium and large-scale composting operations. This course is offered as a certificate program and will train personnel to be qualified compost site operators. The Maine Compost School is located at Highmoor Farm, a University of Maine research farm facility located in Monmouth, Maine. Participants receive classroom instruction, laboratory experience and hands-on project exercises in this setting. An optional examination is administered to any participant that requests it.

The registration fee for the Maine Compost School is $525.00 for each participant. This fee includes all instructional material, refreshments at breaks, lunches Monday through Friday, along with assorted compost publications and field trip transportation. Participants arrange for their own lodging and transportation to school. The next Maine Compost School is June 20-24, 2011. More information and registration information is available at the website.