The Somerset Newsflash, July 2022

Important Dates


The News in the County

Meet Our New Sustainable Agriculture and Horticulture Professional!

Brett Johnson

We are so thrilled to welcome Brett Johnson to our Somerset County Cooperative Extension team.

Brett will be developing educational programs and providing outreach for commercial agricultural producers and home horticulture enthusiasts. A major goal of his programming will be to help clients manage plant disease and insects through an informed approach that accounts for the agroecosystem and its associated services. Some of Brett’s other areas of focus will be plant variety trialing and demonstration, climate adaptation through horticultural production techniques, and community-based food production systems. Brett will also be coordinating the Master Gardener Volunteer Program for Somerset County.

Brett’s Bulletin: Issues Impacting Somerset’s Farms & Gardens

Drought signals a need for irrigation

Although much of Somerset County received rainfall this week, many trees that typically do not require additional watering are being affected by the prevalence of dry conditions. Of particular concern are those trees growing in sites with sandy soils or shallow soils atop rocky ledge. These sites typically have limited water-holding capacity, which can lead to moisture deficits and eventual die back of even well established trees. If you find yourself on such a site or if you notice premature leaf drop, I recommend deep watering of tree roots twice per week. 

For farmers, the need for efficient water-use has perhaps never been more apparent as smaller ponds in the county are struggling to keep up with water demands. The use of trickle or drip irrigation systems is especially useful in row crops. A major benefit of drip irrigation is that very little of the water applied is lost to evaporation. Another added benefit compared with overhead irrigation is that the leaves of the plants stay dry making the environment less conducive to the development of foliar disease. Read Cooperative Extension’s Bulletin #2160, Trickle Irrigation: Using and Conserving Water in the Home Garden for more information on drip irrigation.

Alice’s Adventures: EFNEP Updates for the Month of July

jars of strawberry jamAlice was in the news last week! Check out the WABI 5 news story about the Farm to Table program Alice helped teach at the Alfond Youth Center.

Alice has been staying busy and teaching lots of classes this summer:

  • The Farm to Table program mentioned above focused on the steps food travels in order to make it to the table. Alice teamed up with Kennebec county’s Nutrition Education Assistant, Debbie Barnett, to teach the teens about making and preserving pickles and strawberry jam. The teens learned that growing and preserving their own food is a great way to save money and prevent waste by using what they harvested from the AYCC garden.
  • Alice has also been participating in Mill Stream School’s R.E.A.C.H summer program that runs through the month of July. She has been leading the Kids in the Kitchen series with 1st-5th graders.
  • Alice is now offering continuous adult programming at El Rancho Addiction and Recovery Center as well as the Skowhegan FEDCAP office. She has been teaching the class series Eating Smart and Being Active at FEDCAP and the series CREATE Better Health at El Rancho.

The News

UMaine Extension Hosts Interactive Plant Sales Map 

May and early June mark the planting season in Maine gardens, and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteers program is again hosting an interactive plant sales map.

The 2022 Spring Plant Sale Fundraisers in Maine map listings are alphabetical by date. Find more information about the map and how to add a group’s sale to it on the map webpage

Another timely resource is the UMaine Extension publication “Best Practices for Plant Sale Donors and Buyers in Maine,” available for free download. Being an informed plant sale donor or buyer helps raise funds for organizations, and it means getting the right plant for the right spot in a garden and avoiding future problems. 

More information is available on the UMaine Extension Garden and Yard website, or by contacting 207.581.8211 or

UMaine Harvest for Hunger and MOFGA Grow-A-Row 

Two options if you have extra produce this summer:

  • Home gardeners, farmers, businesses, schools, and civic groups…you can make a difference!
    • What would your summer be like without the tastes of sweet corn-on-the-cob, crisp green beans or juicy melon? Help make the tastes of summer a reality for all Mainers by joining other farmers and gardeners who are donating fresh fruits and vegetables to University of Maine Harvest for Hunger. There may be gleaners available to harvest your extra produce in the field. Learn how you can help on the Harvest for Hunger Webpage.
  • Food Donations and Grow a Row for MOFGA!
    • MOFGA’s common kitchen is seeking donations of organically raised food to support our Fair volunteers this fall and our other educational and planning events during the year. Would you consider planting a row of carrots, cabbage, onions, dry beans, or other veggies you’re eager to grow? We are also accepting donations of other local and organic products like hone and maple syrup too. If you have questions or would like more information, reach out to common kitchen manager and fair food liaison, Wendy Watson, at and let us know you are donating and/or growing a row for donation. MOFGA and our volunteers thank you!

Helpful Gardening Resources

CarrotsWe want to remind you that Cooperative Extension offers all kinds of helpful resources for Maine gardeners. If you have a garden, you may want to check out some of these:

  • On Demand Webinars: Bundles of three to four prerecorded webinars about starting and maintaining a home orchard, gardening with native plants, composting and soil health, and seed selection and starting. The webinars allow viewers to watch and learn at their own pace and include lists of recommended resources. The webinar bundles are offered on a sliding scale fee of $0–$30. More information about how to purchase the bundles is available on the gardening webpage. For more information or to request a reasonable accommodation, contact Rebecca Long, 207.743.6329;
  • 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: direct technical assistance and encouragement via phone or email throughout the season from trained Master Gardener Volunteers.
  • Maine Farm Products and Pick-Up 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.
  • Identifying insect pests: Charley Armstrong, 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.
  • Soil testing: The Analytical Lab and Maine Soil Testing Service remains open and is taking samples with a priority on commercial samples. If you need to drop off a sample, you can place it in the box outside of Deering Hall; do NOT enter the building.
  • General gardening questions: Contact your county office. Emails are preferred. If it’s necessary to leave a voicemail, please leave your email address (if available) or a mailing address in addition to your phone number.
  • Maine Home Garden News: Consider subscribing to this helpful and inspiring monthly newsletter.

Greenhouse Plastic Recycling Program

University of Maine Cooperative Extension opened its Greenhouse Plastic Recycling (GPR) program April 19 with drop-off sites available statewide through November 21. 

Plastic eligible for recycling is clear, low-density polyethylene #4 (LDPE #4) used to cover greenhouses, high tunnels, hoop houses and other agricultural structures. The program will also accept white overwintering plastic bundled separately from clear plastic. UMaine Extension’s GPR program video explains the process in full.

This will be the third year for the recycling program, begun in 2020 with a one-year Maine Department of Environmental Protection Waste Diversion grant. The program’s goal is to collect at least one-third of Maine’s annual waste greenhouse plastic, diverting that waste for use in new plastic products. To date, the program has collected almost 2,600 pounds of this plastic waste.

There is no program fee; registration is required. Register and find more information on the GPR program website. More information also is available by contacting Matt Wallhead, 207.581.2949;

The News in Agriculture

Irrigation Field Day in Houlton

The Southern Aroostook Soil & Water Conservation District is hosting a field day on irrigation on August 10 from 8:30am to 2:00pm in Houlton. They have an excellent line-up of speakers. The title is Managing Irrigation for Crop Improvement, Soil Health, and Water Source Conservation and the topics will include:

  • Determining the Right Equipment for Your Farm
  • Types of Equipment Available & Local Growers Experience
  • Role of Soil Health In Irrigation
  • Best use of Water Resources
  • NRCS Rain Simulator Demonstration
  • Siting Ponds
  • Moisture Sensor Demonstration

See the program flyer for more information and a mail-in registration form, or use the online registration form.

Cost is $20. Lunch will be provided. Three (3) CCA credits will be offered.

Questions? Contact Angela Wotton, SASWCD:

Maine Summer Dairy Field Day

Dairy CowWe hope that you will join us at our annual field day on Monday, July 25 with a focus on calf and heifer management. Our featured speaker will be Dr. Pete Erickson, Professor and Extension Dairy Specialist at UNH. Dr. Erickson has been conducting research in the area of calf health and nutrition for over 20 years and will bring a wealth of knowledge.

This field day is part of a Tri-State effort with partnering Universities UNH and UVM. All are welcome to attend the free field days across the tri-states.

Maine Location: Hemond Farm, Minot, ME

Cost: Free (includes boxed lunch)

For more information and to register, visit the Maine Summer Field Day webpage.

UMaine Extension Crop Specific Newsletters Available

Did you know that UMaine Extension has several crop or species specific newsletters that highlight timely production and pest concerns? Newsletters include:

Learn more and find archived editions here.

Sign Up for the Maine Fiber Tour and Trail

Now is the time! This annual agritourism promotion happens in October (October 9 this year). There is no fee to join promotions, but you must sign up via Real Maine.

This event helps visitors explore Maine’s fibershed. They may be farms (e.g., fiber animals and plants), and/or processors (e.g., mills, weavers, dyers), and/or sell fiber products such as clothing, art, and other non-synthetic textiles (e.g., farms, specialty retail sites).

If you are a Maine farm or fiber processor who would like to participate (or know of a farm who would like to participate), please email Real Maine.

Agricultural Wellness and Resilience Website

A new website from Cooperative Extension focuses on Agricultural Wellness and Resilience! 

“A healthy farm is nothing without a healthy farmer.” 

The website features resources and tips around crisis support, a hub to share ‘resilience resources’ for the agricultural community, and upcoming events, training or workshops focused on supporting farmer well-being. The website also houses the information about the Maine Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (Maine FRSAN): a state-wide network supporting farmers, farmworkers, and agricultural servicers – of land, forest and sea – with efforts to cultivate wellness and build resilience. Learn more about the Maine FRSAN project partners and take advantage of fully funded opportunities available now for farmers in Maine.

Money for PFAS Testing

The PFAS Testing Grants Program is available to all commercial farms throughout the state. The program is administered by MFT and MOFGA to assist farmers who have concerns regarding potential PFAS contamination.

The Program will pay for:

  • Testing of home or irrigation water for contamination with these chemicals.
  • Testing of products or inputs if a farm has any concerns relating to the purchase of inputs (hay, milk, etc.) from a farm known to have contamination.
  • A simple application form will assess eligibility for the program and several farms will be selected upon a weekly review to participate in the program.

Get full eligibility requirements and program details at this PFAS Emergency Relief Fund webpage.

PFAS Farmer Wellness Fund

The PFAS Farmer Wellness Fund is intended to holistically support farmers and farm workers impacted by PFAS contamination and is being jointly administered by Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), Maine Farmland Trust (MFT), and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension (UMCE) and is funded by the Farmer and Rancher Stress Assistance Network.

As farmers wellness is broadly defined, there is a wide range of eligible uses for this fund including therapy, childcare, acupuncture, gift cards to purchase uncontaminated food and/or water, massage, traditional healers, and other supports that would help reduce stress at this time.


  • All commercial farms. A farm does not need to have confirmed high PFAS test results though those farms and farm workers will be prioritized
  • Farm workers based on a farm affected by PFAS
  • Indigenous food and medicine growers providing for community

We cannot pay the applicant directly for or reimburse any expenses, and will instead directly pay for any services or products you have requested. Please take care to verify the contact information for payment for the service or product before submission.

PFAS Resource Hubs

Maine Beef Producers Association Membership

The MBPA website has information about the association, the board of directors, and forms for awards, activities, and sales. Members have the opportunity to have their farm listed with a photo, description of their farm, and a link to their own farm website. You can add this information when you join or send the information and digital photo to Russ Florenz at

The Maine Beef Producers Association has a Facebook page. Like and follow to get the fastest information from Maine Beef Producers Association.

Join the Maine Beef Producers Association. 

The Maine Beef Producers Association is accepting dues for the 2022 year. Annual dues are $35. For an extra $25 you can get a year subscription to County Folks. For more information on this organization and for membership application and online payment go to the MBPA website.

You can join the association online and pay by credit card on a secure site or by mailing the information to Sally Caverly by either printing off the form from the website, or completing the pdf version of the form and mailing to her at 1457 River Rd., Clinton, ME.

The News in 4-H

4H CloverFridays on the Farm is Back!

All youth ages 12-18 are invited to join Maine 4-H staff for Fridays on the Farm, a series of hands-on learning experiences for Maine teens. In this series of farm tours, participants will explore possible careers in agriculture, learn about the Maine Food System, and practice real-life farm skills.  Participants may join one, or all of the farm visits. 4-H enrollment is not a requirement for participation, so share this opportunity with your friends! All youth ages 12-18 are welcome to participate. For more information on the available farm tours or to register visit the Fridays on the Farm registration page.

Looking for 4-H Alumni & Members Attending UMaine!

If you are a current or former 4-H member planning to attend UMaine this fall, know of a 4-H member currently attending UMaine, or know of a recent 4-H alumni attending UMaine, read this! Collegiate 4-H is an opportunity for 4-H alumni and college students interested in supporting the mission of 4-H to be involved in 4-H after high school. We are currently exploring starting a Collegiate 4-H Club at UMaine with an anticipated start date for the 2022 fall semester. Simply fill out this short form to let us know if you think you might be interested!

Save the Date for the Maine 4-H State Dairy Show

The Maine 4-H State Dairy show will be July 22-24 at the Windsor Fairgrounds. The event is open to all Maine 4-H dairy project members 4-H ages 9 and above. In addition to the 4-H dairy show, the event includes a 4-H dairy fitting contest, grilled cheese contest, and educational workshops. For additional information and a schedule of events please visit the Maine 4-H State Dairy Show webpage.

Summer Camp Opportunities

Visit the Summer University Youth Programs’ Youth Summer Camps page to learn about a huge variety of camp experiences available to youth. From our traditional 4-H Camp and Learning Centers, to camps that focus on Academics, Art, Music, or Sports – there is something for everyone.

Maine 4-H Foundation Summer Camp Scholarships

The Maine 4-H Foundation has a limited number of scholarships for 4-H members for Blueberry Cove, Bryant Pond, Greenland Point, and Tanglewood. These scholarships are applied by the camp when you register and pay the deposit for camp. Scholarships are available from $50 to $200 depending on the camp expenses and needs.

The News in Homemakers

Summer Newsletter Published

Head on over to the Homemakers Newsletter page to check out the latest issue of the Maine Extension Homemakers Newsletter.

Help Us Collect Can Tabs

Can 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