UMaine Extension: Connecting with Maine Communities During COVID-19

Traditional Services Being Offered in New Ways

Researcher holds a vial containing ticksIdentifying insect pests: Our staff can assist in identifying pest samples via images. Review the instructions for submitting an insect specimen.

Identifying plant diseases: Dr. Alicyn Smart will identify plant disease samples via images. Review the instructions for submitting an insect specimen.

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

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

Veterinary diagnostic services: The Veterinary Diagnostic Lab is accepting samples with prior notification. For more information, please call 207.581.3874 or visit our website before submitting samples.

Soil testing: The Analytical Lab and Maine Soil Testing Service is open for business. 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.

Greenhouse Plastic Recycling Program: Statewide collection is taking place from September 25 to December 15, 2020. Instructions and information about drop-off sites are available 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, save 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 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 conducted weekly ZOOM meeting for farmers to share what was happening on their farm, what was working well, and what wasn’t working well. It was a chance for farmers to chat with others throughout the state and stay connected in these difficult times.

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 took place on 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: When the novel coronavirus closed schools across Maine, UMaine Extension 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 any school closures.

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

Learn at Home with 4-H Friday Fun! — hands-on activities 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.

Maine 4-H Virtual Teen 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 to 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: March 30 – June 10, 2020, UMaine Extension offered a Garden Chats ZOOM series. These 1-hour sessions were held every Monday at 9:00 AM, Wednesday at 12:00 PM, and Thursday at 6:00 PM. All gardeners were invited to join members of the UMaine Extension Home Horticulture team as they offered 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. 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 video series consists of 20-minute pre-recorded videos geared towards Mainers growing their first vegetable garden.

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.

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