The Somerset Newsflash, March 2022

Upcoming Events and Timely Bulletins for Somerset County

Important Dates


The News

Somerset County Extension Seeking to Hire Agriculture and Food Systems Professional

We are hiring!

The Agriculture and Food Systems Professional with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension is a full-time, fiscal-year, continuing contract eligible faculty appointment. This position is responsible for implementing educational programs in support of the over 500 commercial farms in the county, including a vibrant maple production industry. This work will often be done in partnership with county-based colleagues and statewide commodity (potato, dairy, vegetable) or subject specialists (water quality, pest management, food safety) within Cooperative Extension. The professional will also respond to the needs of home gardeners and have overall responsibility for the county Master Gardener Volunteer program.

Please help us spread the word about this opportunity! If you know someone who may be interested in this position, please refer them to the position description on the UMaine job site.

Food Safety Training for Volunteer Cooks in April

UMaine Cooperative Extension will offer four options for online food safety training for volunteer cooks starting April 5 from 9:00 a.m.-noon. Additional sessions are 1-4:00 p.m. April 7 or 13, and 5-8:00 p.m. April 19.

Cooking for Crowds offers up-to-date information on handling, transporting, storing, and preparing foods safely for large group functions such as soup kitchens, church suppers, food pantries, and community fundraisers. Participants receive a “Cooking for Crowds” training manual, certificate of attendance, and more. This class meets the Good Shepherd Food Bank food safety training requirements.

The $15 per person fee includes all materials; registration is required. Register and find more details on the Cooking for Crowds webpage. For more information or to request a reasonable accommodation, contact 207.781.6099 or 800.287.1471 (in Maine);

UMaine Extension Releases 2021 Maine Tick Program Data

University of Maine Cooperative Extension Tick Lab 2021 Surveillance Program data is available on the Maine Tick Data webpage.Blacklegged Tick or Deer Tick (adult female)

In 2020, the lab included testing for Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, and tularemia, in addition to tests for Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and babesiosis, the three most common tick-borne diseases.

In 2021, the lab received nearly double the number of tick submissions than it did in 2020. According to Griffin Dill, UMaine Extension Tick Lab manager, “the increase was primarily driven by an unprecedented number of American dog tick submissions. Fortunately, dog ticks are not known to transmit pathogens here in Maine.”

Dill also noted that the infection rates for Lyme disease, Anaplasme, and Babesia increased significantly compared to 2020, ranging from a 3% increase for Babesia to a nearly 6% increase for Lyme disease.

For 2022, the UMaine Extension Tick Lab will be adding another pathogen, Borrelia miyamotoi, to the testing panel for deer ticks and related tick species. While Borrelia miyamotoi is related to the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, it causes a relapsing fever-like illness in humans.

More information on different tick species in Maine, tick management, tick-borne disease, and submitting tick specimens to the lab is available on the tick laboratory website, or by contacting 207.581.3880, 800.287.0279 (in Maine):

The News in Agriculture

Make Your Land Available For Farming

This is a free webinar series for farming and non-farming private landowners and their representatives (real estate agents, etc.) to understand your land’s potential for farming, learn what goes into a good farming arrangement, and explore strategies for making any amount of land available to a farmer. When you make land available for farming you help secure a future of farming in your community. Farmers are looking for land, from a small vegetable plot to livestock or crops. Productive, sustainable uses for all or parts of your property can bring many rewards!

This series is hosted by the New England Farmlink Collaborative and will take place on March 23, 30, and April 6, 2022, from 12-1:00 p.m. Form more information and to register, visit the Land For Good Training webpage.

Online Produce Safety Course for Maine Growers

For Maine farmers who must comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), or who want to hone their food safety skills, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension will offer a two-part online Produce Safety Alliance grower training 7:45 a.m.–noon April 14 and 8 a.m.–noon April 15 

The Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training provides farm food safety and management best practices based on FSMA requirements. Participants who complete the course are eligible for the FSMA certificate that may be required for their farm compliance. Three pesticide credits also are available.

The $20 fee includes all materials; open to Maine residents only. Register by March 28 on the Grower Training webpage. For more information or to request a reasonable accommodation, contact Theresa Tilton, 207.942.7396; This course is co-sponsored by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry.

Tractor Safety Course

University of Maine Cooperative Extension will offer four-session tractor


safety courses in two locations starting April 4, at Gorham Public Works, 80 Huston Road, Gorham and Kramer’s, Inc., 2400 West River Road, Sidney.

The Farm Tractor Safety Course includes classroom lectures, homework, and tractor driving time. Designed for adults and youth at least 14 years old, participants will learn how to safely handle tractors and equipment, how to avoid hazards, and minimize chances of accidents. This course is required for 14- and 15-year-olds who plan to operate farm equipment for hire on farms other than those owned by their families. Certificates will be issued after the successful completion of the course.

The sliding scale fee of $0-$40 includes the course manual. Registration and access to a computer, tablet, or smartphone are required. Register and find more information on the Tractor Safety Course webpage. For more information or to request a reasonable accommodation, contact Jason Lilley, 207.781.6099;

Bird Flu Update

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in a non-commercial backyard flock (non-poultry) in Knox County, Maine.

In addition to practicing good biosecurity, all bird owners should prevent contact between their birds and wild birds and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to state/federal officials, either through their state veterinarian or through APHIS’ toll-free number at 1.866.536.7593.

APHIS urges producers to consider bringing birds indoors when possible to further prevent exposures. The Animal Health Protection Act authorizes APHIS to provide indemnity payments to producers for birds and eggs that must be depopulated during a disease response. APHIS also provides compensation for disposal activities and virus elimination activities. Additional information on biosecurity for non-commercial backyard flocks can be found on the APHIS website.

Maine Beef Producers Association Membership Renewal

MBPA members are listed on the MBPA website. Those who have not renewed their membership will be removed from the website on April 1. To become a member, you can complete the online MBPA membership form or by printing, completing, and mailing the MBPA membership brochure (pdf).

Value-Added Producer Grant Open Now

The Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) Notice of Solicitation of Applications (NOSA) was published on March 1, 2022.

Here are just a few highlights:

  • Applicants must be an Agricultural Producer
  • There are two types of grants: Planning with a maximum award amount of $75,000 and Working Capital with a maximum award amount of $250,000
  • There is approximately $19.75 million available in program funding.

For more information and to apply, visit the Value-Added Producer Grant webpage. Electronic applications that are submitted through are due on April 25, 2022.

New Extension Resource: Guide to Investigating PFAS Risk on Your Farm

University of Maine Cooperative Extension is making a dynamic set of resources about on-farm PFAS contamination available online to the public in one location.

Guide to Investigating PFAS Risk on Your Farm” is a comprehensive collection of resources about contamination from Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Maine. Topics include Maine’s response to contamination at agricultural sites, steps to determining risks and mitigation options for farms, and information on the sources of PFAS contamination. The new website will be updated as the research and resulting information evolves.

The resources are from multiple Maine state agencies, including the Departments of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry, Health and Human Services, Environmental Protection, and Maine CDC. Supporting organizations contributing information include UMaine Extension, Maine Farmland Trust, and Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.

This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) project 2019-70028-30464 and 2020-70028-32729. For more information about agriculture in Maine contact 207.581.3188,; or Extension’s agriculture website.

Dairy Farm Labor Survey

Would you take a few minutes to give your input on the labor needs of Maine’s dairy industry, as it looks on your farm? You must be 18 years old or older to participate in this anonymous survey that will take 15 minutes or less.

To learn more and to take the survey, visit the Dairy Farm Labor Survey form.

Beginning Farmer Training Needs Survey

If you have been farming for under 10 years, UMaine Extension needs YOUR input! UMaine Cooperative Extension: Equipping New Farmers with Practical Skills and Knowledge is a newly funded project to help new and developing farmers get trained in agriculture. We are asking for your help in identifying the skills and knowledge needs that you have.

To learn more and to take the survey, visit the Beginning Farmer Training Needs Survey form.

Upcoming Webinars

Strawberry Production and Pest Management for Northern MaineMarch 23, 2-7:30 p.m.
This webinar will illustrate how best to produce strawberries in northern Maine, including site preparation, variety selection, plant growth, winter protection, and pest management. David Handley, UMaine Extension vegetable and fruit specialist, will lead the workshop. The webinar is free; registration is required (click on the workshop name to register). This webinar is approved for one pesticide recertification credit. For more information or to request accommodation, contact 207.834.3905;

Maine Climate & Agriculture Network Webinar SeriesMarch 22 & 28, 2-3:00 p.m. & April 14, 1-2:00 p.m.
The first two sessions address Adapting to Climate Change on the Farm, where farmers and agricultural advisors share their experiences. The third session topic is Using Seaweed as Feedstock to Reduce Methane Emissions from Cows, where we will hear from experts from the University of New Hampshire and the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. Each webinar will consist of short presentations from panelists followed by questions and a general discussion. Speakers include farmers, outreach professionals, and agricultural and climate scientists. The series is free and open to the public. Click on the workshop title for more information and to register for the events.

The News in 4-H

New Somerset County 4-H Newsletter4H Clover

We are very pleased to present 4-H Happenings, Somerset County’s NEW 4-H newsletter! We have not published a 4-H newsletter in several years, but we have a new office team and will begin publishing 4-H Happenings on a monthly basis. It will be an online newsletter that can be found on the 4-H Newsletter page on our website and readers will be able to access an archive to view past issues. Subscribers will receive an email that will include news highlights as well as links to the online articles.

We hope you find this newsletter helpful and informative and encourage you to reach out with any requests or suggestions!

4-H Volunteer Conference in New Hampshire

April 9 – 10, in person

Lighting the Way for Our 4-H Youth: BE THE SPARK! The 4th Annual New Hampshire Volunteers Leaders Conference will be held in Waterville Valley, NH, and volunteers from Maine and Vermont are also invited to attend.

Saturday will be jam-packed with networking sessions, workshops, and the annual awards banquet, ending with an evening bonfire and activities. Sunday begins with an 8:30 a.m. welcome before moving into hands-on demonstrations and a resource fair. There will be demonstrations on 4-H activities and 4-H projects. There will also be a resource hall with all kinds of things to support you in helping to light the Spark in our youth.

The registration deadline is March 31. For more information and to

register, visit the 4-H Volunteer Leaders Conference in NH webpage.

Tidepool Immersion Discovery & Ecology Workshop Series

Explore the intertidal zone and help with marine science research! In this workshop, we will learn about animals you might find during low tide and use some amazing equipment to take awesome pictures on your phone to identify them. Along the way, we’ll learn about invasive species, climate change, species identification, and how you can participate in research by just taking a picture. Please note that the ability to get to the beach and supervision are required (at least once, between sessions). Participants must have access to a durable digital camera (a phone is fine). This workshop is supported by Maine EPSCoR at the University of Maine. Register by March 31st, so supplies can be mailed to attendees’ homes.

  • Dates: Tuesdays, 4:00-5:00, April 12, 2022 through May 17th
  • In-person field day at SMCC, South Portland (optional) scheduled in South Portland on April 22nd (rain date April 21)
  • Ages 13-18
  • Most activities will be held via Zoom, materials will be provided and shipped directly to participants before the workshop
  • Facilitators: Emily P. and Sarah S.
  • Preregistration is required on the TIDE Workshop Series webpage by March 31, 2022

Maine 4-H ESE Sheep Intent Forms are Now Available

The 2022 Maine 4-H Sheep Eastern States intent to participate form is available on the 4-H website. In order to be eligible for participation on the Maine 4-H Sheep Eastern States Team this fall, 4-H members must complete the fillable PDF form or mail a hard copy of the intent form to the Oxford County Cooperative Extension office before April 1, 2022. Please contact Sara King at or 207.342.5971 with any questions.

The News in Homemakers

Help Us Collect Can TabsCan Tabs

All Somerset County Homemakers Clubs are collecting can tabs to be recycled for cash that will be donated to the Ronald McDonald house. Anyone is welcome to contribute to the effort and can tabs can be donated by contacting any of the Extension Homemakers or by dropping them off at the Somerset County Extension office.

Volunteer in Somerset County!

Would you or someone you know like to become more engaged in volunteerism throughout Somerset County? Consider joining Homemakers! The Somerset County Extension Homemakers are always welcoming new members. Please visit the Maine Extension Homemakers website for general information about the program or reach out to the Somerset County Extension Homemakers President, Rita Fortin with any questions or to express interest. Rita can be reached at 207.453.2945 or at You may also contact the Maine Extension Homemakers Coordinator, Lisa Fishman at 800.287.1421 or at

The News in the County

Gifts From the Kitchen Online ClassFlier from the Gifts from the Kitchen event, details on the page.

Join us on Thursday, March 24 at 6:30 p.m. for a 1-hour online class where you will learn how to make your own mix-in-a-jar. These homemade gifts are great for holidays, birthdays, barbecues, picnics, and hostess gifts. Sign up today for an online class complete with instructions, recipes, examples, and tips. Head on over to the Gifts from the Kitchen registration page to sign up or contact Alice Cantrell with any questions at