Farming and Gardening Programs
Weed Identification Walk
The first step in managing weeds in any crop is to know what weed it is. Once you know what it is, you can find its vulnerabilities out in the field and use them to reduce the competition with your crop. Over twenty people attended the session at Stutzman’s Farm and Café in Sangerville to learn how to sight identify at least ten weeds at this year’s Weed Identification Walk. Information on management and control techniques for the various weeds were also shared. Both Agriculture Basic and Private Pesticide Applicators received two-hours of recertification credit. UMaine Extension staff led the walk and a Maine Board of Pesticide Control Inspector gave a brief update of things that she has seen when going from farm to farm.
Farm Estate Succession Planning
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension Piscataquis County, in partnership with the Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District, held a Farm and Estate Succession Planning Workshop in Dover-Foxcroft. Presenters for this workshop included Paul O. Dillon Esq., Maine Farmland Trust and UMaine Cooperative Extension.
Thirty participants learned about the legal aspect of a succession plan, how to have a successful farm transfer, programs in Maine available for farmers looking to sell their farm and also farm/business record keeping.
A Farmlink mixer, hosted by Maine Farmlink Project, was held right after the workshop to pair beginning farmers with established farmers that were looking at options for transitioning their farm.
In Piscataquis County, the number and size of farms is dramatically increasing once again, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture. There are more beginning farmers in the county, and the organizations that presented at the workshop are all committed to helping farmers keep their land in farming.
As a follow-up American Farmland Trust met with 13 Piscataquis farmers to learn about the issues that farmers face as they try to transfer their farm to either a family member or other new farmer.
Gardening – Growing Our Own
UMaine Extension horticulture staff in Piscataquis County have taken a multi-prong effort to help gardeners be more successful in their home garden and to help young gardeners learn how their food grows.
Master Gardener Volunteer Training
This year Piscataquis was the host site for a three county Master Gardener Volunteer Training utilizing the Tandberg Video Conference system in the office. Eighteen new MGVs and three returning MGVs participated in fourteen weeks of classes including soils and fertility, botany, insect & disease management, vegetable production, weed management, composting and volunteering.
Piscataquis gained five new Master Gardeners: Christine Cannon from Dover-Foxcroft and Galen Durose Jr., Shannon Durose, Lisa Cantara and Karen Chandler all of Greenville. And the three returning MGVs include: Dotty Hadler, Janet Yelch-Weatherbee and Anita Perkins.
Distributed over 330 cherry tomato plants in 2015 to the Dover-Foxcroft and Greenville Food cupboards, Black Fly Festival in Milo and the Piscataquis Extension Office with the wonderful assistance of Master Gardener volunteers and Executive Committee members. Some of the seedlings were provided by the Penquis Valley High School Horticulture Class and Richard Neal. All other seedlings were purchased from local growers; Leaves and Blooms, Spruce Mill Farm and Rockwall Gardens; to invest in our local economy.
This is the first time gardening for 15% of the folks and 21% have only gardened for a couple of years (some of these folks had their first garden year in 2014 when they received a One Tomato.)
Last year we distributed plants to 170 people and at the end of the season checked back with them on their success.
Those who were contacted at the end of the season 44% planted their tomato in a container. Their plant’s health was rated good by 80% of the gardeners. The estimated value of the tomatoes harvested was $830.
We are expecting a greater yield in 2015 since we started distributing plants a couple weeks earlier. The value of this project should be over $1,250 worth of tomatoes grown.
The One Tomato project is a great way to introduce folks to UMaine Extension. This year 35% of people receiving a tomato plant had never heard of UMaine Extension.
Over 500 people learned how to remove ticks and where to get them identified at the UMaine Extension Tick display at Piscataquis Fair at Dover Foxcroft and Forest Heritage Day in Greenville.
Home Horticulture Staff fielded gardening inquiries from folks who visited the UMaine Extension Office, called, emailed, texted, or messaged through Facebook. The method of contact may have changed and expanded but the questions are very similar: Why isn’t my plant growing? What is this insect, disease, or plant? What can I use to control this pest? How can I make my garden more productive?