UMaine Extension: Connecting with Maine Communities During COVID-19

Traditional Services Being Offered in New Ways

Researcher holds a vial containing ticksIdentifying insect pests: Clay Kirby, Associate Scientist/Insect Diagnostician, will identify pest samples via images. See instructions for submitting an insect specimen.

Identifying plant diseases: Dr. Alicyn Smart will identify plant disease samples via images. See instructions for submitting a sample.

Tick testing: Ticks are being tested on a limited basis. See instructions for submitting a tick sample.

Publication orders: We are still processing orders from our publication catalog, including pesticide application training materials.

Veterinary diagnostic services: The Veterinary Diagnostic Lab is still accepting samples. This could change as the COVID-19 situation progresses. For the most current status, please call 207.581.3874 or visit our website before submitting samples.

Soil testing: The Analytical Lab and Maine Soil Testing Service is hoping that operations will continue through the spring and summer but this is subject to change as the University policies evolve. We are encouraging clients to mail or ship samples to the lab rather than in-person drop off. Lab staff will process samples as fast as possible but clients should anticipate some delays as staffing levels may be reduced. Updates will be posted on the lab web page.

Greenhouse Plastic Recycling Program: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, University of Maine Cooperative Extension will delay opening all drop-off locations for greenhouse plastic recycling until on or about June 21. Growers and farmers who are ready to recycle their plastic now can still participate in the program by storing their plastic in a clean, dry location until local drop-off sites open. The program also accepts white over-wintering plastic if bundled separately from standard greenhouse plastic. Instructions for removing and storing plastic, online registration to participate, as well as periodic updates, are on the program website.

EFNEP Online: Are you or someone you know interested in improving you and your family’s health, saving money at the store, and basic nutrition tips? Our educators now have the resources to conduct Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) nutrition education classes at a distance with the option of classes taught one-on-one or in small groups. Learn more about EFNEP Online for Adults. In this FREE program you will learn to cook new recipes, choose healthy foods, cave money at the grocery store, keep food safe to eat, and be more active.

New Resources to Meet New Needs

Video produced by FRAME Media Strategies for the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

Maine Farm and Seafood Products Directory: The directory provides information on available local farm products and alternative pick-up options developed by farmers statewide to accommodate the recommended social distancing in light of COVID-19. To have your farm added to this list, complete the Maine Farm and Seafood Products Form.

COVID-19 Information and Support for Maine Farmers: Includes information about COVID-19; food safety standard operating procedures for farms; federal support programs; farmer networking; agricultural lab services; customer relations; stress, mental health, and well-being; and other tools, including a COVID-19 Maine Farmer Survey.

COVID-19 Information and Support for Maine Livestock Producers: Includes information about COVID-19; Centers for Disease Control Covid-19 Resources; National Milk Producers Federation COVID-19 Resources; and other tools.

COVID-19 & Maine Agriculture FAQ: Got questions about COVID-19 and Maine agriculture? Ask our experts! Submit your questions using our online form. Answers to selected questions will be posted on the website.

COVID-19 Information and Support for Maine Food Producers and Produce Growers: Includes information about COVID-19; resources for food producers, including restaurants; resources for produce growers and farms; and best practice resources for washing your hands.

COVID-19 Food Safety Information for Maine Consumers: Includes information about COVID-19; disinfecting; food purchasing and storage; and resources for washing your hands.

seedlings in traysSeedling Sales Resources During COVID-19: Seeding sales pose a unique problem for safe sales during the COVID-19 outbreak, due to the large amount of area that the plants take up and the large number of customers that shop for them in a relatively short period of time. Adjusting your retail seedling sales layout, customer flow, and payment methods all need to be planned in advance. Those plans need to be clearly communicated to your customers.

Weekly Maine Farmer ZOOM Meetings: Starting Monday, March 23, UMaine Extension is conducting weekly ZOOM meeting for farmers to share what is happening on their farm, what is working well, and what isn’t working well. It’s a chance for farmers to chat with others throughout the state and stay connected in these difficult times. Farmers can tune in either through a computer or by phone. No registration necessary. See the website for times. UPDATE: Since summer field work and farm direct marketings have commenced, the Weekly Maine Farm Zoom has been suspended for now.

Managing Cut Flower Sales During COVID-19: Online brainstorming session on Creating Safe and Efficient On-Farm Cut Flower Sales in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. This online discussion is planned for Tuesday, May 5 from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM.

Best Management Practices for U-Pick Farms During COVID-19: Helpful guidance and support in setting up your U-pick operation during the COVID-19 outbreak.

child working on a jigsaw puzzleLearn at Home: Educational Resources to Use During School Closures: With novel coronavirus closing schools across Maine for several weeks, UMaine Extension has assembled a collection of helpful educational resources for parents and caregivers. From science to financial literacy, whether for toddlers or teenagers, we encourage you to take advantage of these activity books, guides, and other resources to help children remain engaged in educational experiences throughout their school closure.

Maine State Virtual Fair 2020: Participation in the Maine State Virtual Fair is an opportunity for 4-H members to be recognized for their efforts on projects they have completed and skills they have gained over the past 4-H year. Club members and independent 4-Hers from Maine are eligible and welcome to submit entries to the Exhibit Hall.

Learn at Home with 4-H Friday Fun! Each Friday, watch for a new hands-on activity that you can try out with simple materials you have at home. Watch a short video clip to see how it’s done or download our 4-H Learn from Home activity sheets. Each activity outlines materials needed, easy to follow instructions, reflection questions for discussion and activity extensions.

QuaranTEEN Virtual Science Cafés: Maine 4-H is offering “virtual” (online) science cafés! Come hang out for a bit, chat with a UMaine scientist, and learn about their work. It’s free!Join us each Tuesday where you will meet scientists, learn about how they ended up at UMaine and how they became involved in their work/research, and participate in informal discussions. Recommended for teens in grades 7-12.

Mainely Dish Monday: Each Monday, a Mainely Dish recipe video will be featured on UMaine Extension’s social media platforms, the Maine Expanded Food and Nutrition Program Facebook page, and Learn at Home: Educational Resources to Use During School Closures.

tomatoes on the vineGarden Chats: Growing Resilience from the Ground Up: Starting Monday, March 30, UMaine Extension will begin a Garden Chats ZOOM series. These 1-hour sessions will be held every Monday at 9:00 AM, Wednesday at 12:00 PM, and Thursday at 6:00 PM. All gardeners are invited to join members of the UMaine Extension Home Horticulture team as they offer short online lessons on featured topics followed by a facilitated discussion with fellow gardeners from around the state and beyond.

Community Garden Guidelines in the Time of Social Distancing: Community Gardens are considered an essential agricultural activity by the state of Maine and many residents rely on the food they grow in their garden plot(s) in order to feed themselves and their families. But, at this time Master Gardener Volunteers may not volunteer in ANY capacity at a Community Garden site until further notice. Therefore, UMaine Extension Home Horticulture staff suggests these Best Management practices and resources for Community Garden Coordinators and committees during COVID-19.

Victory Gardens for ME: This weekly video series consists of 20-minute pre-recorded videos geared towards Mainers growing their first vegetable garden. After watching the weekly video, tune in to our virtual office hours, hosted by our county offices, with your questions!

Growing Maine Gardeners: An initiative led by UMaine Extension’s Home Horticulture team to address the increased demand for gardening education throughout the state of Maine and to provide additional support for beginner gardeners. Our Extension offices may be temporarily closed, but we are still here for YOU. Ask your gardening questions by participating in our virtual office hours during the months of May and June. If you can, try to tune in for your own County’s office hours for a chance to connect with your local staff!

Garden Mentorship Program: The goal of the Garden Mentorship Program is to match Master Gardener Volunteers with gardeners in their county (or a nearby county) in order to provide technical assistance and encouragement via phone or email throughout the season. This program serves Maine residents on a first come, first serve basis and prioritizes beginner gardeners.

Food Preservation Webinar Series: Join UMaine Extension food preservation staff for a lively discussion and demonstrations on how to preserve Maine foods throughout our growing season. This series takes place Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. via Zoom and includes a discussion and demonstration of research-based preserving methods like canning, freezing, dehydrating, and fermenting.

New Fact Sheets and Articles:

Social Media: Many of our staff are stepping up efforts to communicate to audiences via social media. For example, see Rogers Farm Demonstration Garden’s short educational Facebook videos, recorded by Kate Garland, Horticultural Professional.

110 handmade face masks Extension Homemakers: The Caribou Homemakers recently made and donated 110 face masks to area hospitals and nursing homes in Central Aroostook County. Bravo! Photo by Diane Parent, President of the Caribou Homemakers.

A Reminder from Us to You to Keep Safe

These two UMaine Extension resources aren’t new but are now more important than ever:

Bulletin #4067, The ABCs of Hand Washing