2021-2022 County Highlights
Piscataquis County Highlights
Food Safety and Food Preservation
Lunch and Learns, webinars, and hands-on workshops provide home food preservationists with the most up-to-date, tested, food-safe recommendations by the USDA. Free canner pressure-gauge testing is provided at all events and in the office. Programs have expanded to include food safety practices and preservation for wild game.
The school Garden in Dover-Foxcroft at SeDoMoCha provides 2nd graders with education on growing, harvesting, and preparing their foods for healthier and sustainable eating, impacting all four classes of 2nd graders.
Cooking for Crowds, a food safety volunteer training program is designed for non-profit audiences that cook food for the public as part of food fundraisers and provide meals at no cost to the public as well as for large personal gatherings. Cooking for Crowds meets the requirements of the Good Shepherd food safety training requirements.
Piscataquis County 4-H
Staff and volunteers had activities for youth at community events around the county, including the 2021 Piscataquis Valley Fair, 2021 Forest Heritage Days, 2022 Soil Health Day at the Soil and Water District, and the 2022 Whoopie Pie Festival. They also led activities virtually through the 2021 Maine 4-H Virtual Learning Series, and the Paws for a Minute Statewide Virtual 4-H Dog Club. In addition, in-person events included seed bomb making at Thompson Free Library and in-school activities included learning about sauerkraut making, dirt babies, composting, grains and garlic planting. 4-H volunteers also served as judges in the Maine 4-H Public Speaking Tournament.
The Parkman Area Adventure 4-H Club started meeting again for hiking and other outdoor activities in the summer and fall. Enrolled 4-H youth also participated in the 2021 Maine State 4-H Virtual Exhibit Hall, the 2021 Piscataquis Valley Fair, the 2021 Summer Learning Series, and Maine Virtual Learning Hub workshops and series. A Piscataquis County 4-H’er attended the National 4-H Agri-Science Summit in Washington D.C. with financial support from the 4-H Leaders Association.
Lastly, many thanks to the people of Piscataquis County that supported 4-H programs, especially through the Tractor Supply Company Paper Clover campaign in the fall and spring and the belt sale at last year’s fair (belts donated by the Dover-Foxcroft Tractor Supply Company).
Extension on the Road
Extension staff traveled around the county to meet and greet residents in area towns. They answered questions and staffed information tables at Forest Heritage Days in Greenville, Milo Garden Club in Milo, Dover-Foxcroft Tractor Supply, Dover Cove Farmers Market in Dover-Foxcroft, Black Fly Festival in Milo, and the From Away Dinner in Dover-Foxcroft.
Piscataquis County Extension Executive Committee members assisted in hosting teaching programs. Beth McEvoy, DVM co-taught the Winter Care for Equines online program. Ben Cookson, Shaw Road Farm opened his farm to beef producers to learn about low-stress cattle handling.
One TomatoTM distribution is complete in Piscataquis and Aroostook counties. Over 525 cherry tomato seedlings were distributed. Some lucky gardeners got vegetable or basil seeds to add to their garden.
Preliminary results of the initial survey show about 18% of folks either have never gardened or have not gardened in a long time. The goal of the One Tomato project is to encourage more people to grow their own food. Also, for 30% of people picking up a seedling, this was their first interaction with UMaine Cooperative Extension.
In Piscataquis County, we gave out tomatoes in Dover-Foxcroft, Milo, Monson, Greenville, Sangerville, and Guilford. In Aroostook County, they were distributed in Presque Isle, Fort Kent, and Houlton. This was the first time three-quarters of folks have participated in the One TomatoTM project.
Our thanks go out to our staff, Master Gardener Volunteers, and Executive Committee members for helping with the distribution.
Later this fall a follow-up survey will be emailed or in person to see how well their tomatoes produced.
Pollinator-Friendly Garden Certification Program
The Pollinator-Friendly Garden Certification Program has certified over 50 gardens as pollinator-friendly since 2021 statewide. The program educates the public on the importance of pollinators and how to support them by providing food, water, shelter, and protecting their habitat. Outreach to youth groups, schools, and the gardening public provides information on pollinators, invasive and native plant species.
The program has evolved to become a collaboration between UNH and the UMaine Cooperative Extension.
Central Maine Garden News, Maine Farm News, and the Beef Producers Newsletters have over 1,290 subscribers from Piscataquis County.
Piscataquis Valley Fair
4-H youth, leaders, volunteers, and staff participated in the Piscataquis Fair in 2021 after a two-year hiatus. 4-H youth exhibited their 4-H projects to receive ribbons and premiums. In the 4-H Exhibition Hall, all fairgoers had the opportunity to do a make-it and take-it craft. We want to thank the Dover Foxcroft Tractor Supply for their generous donation of belts for the 4-H fundraiser. Extension staff had displays available on canning, food preservation, gardening, farming, and pest control.