The Somerset Newsflash, September 2022

Important Dates


The News in the County

In-person Gardening Series Starts September 20!

pumpkins in a field in the autumn seasonLocal gardeners can take advantage of a new in-person learning opportunity offered by University of Maine Cooperative Extension this fall. The six-part series, Fall in the Garden, will be held from 4–5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Sept. 20–Oct. 11. Two sessions will be hosted by Franklin County Extension in Farmington and four sessions by Somerset County Extension in Skowhegan.

The series is designed to help participants extend the gardening season and save more of what their gardens provide. UMaine Extension Sustainable Agriculture and Horticulture Professionals Brett Johnson and Nick Rowley will lead the sessions. Each program will cover a topic that can be implemented this fall, and will include a presentation and time for questions. Topics will include:

Participants can attend one or all of the workshops. The suggested donation for each session is up to $15. The registration form can be found on the Fall in the Garden webpage. For more information or to request a reasonable accommodation, contact 207.474.9622;

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

For certain vegetable crops, fall weather is ideal for planting. 

To most vegetable gardeners, the beginning of fall signals a time to wrap up the harvest of spring and summer planted crops and prepare the garden for winter. For those of us who can’t help but sow one more bed, there are a few great cool-season vegetables that thrive in the fall temperatures. Arguably, the most dependable fall vegetable is spinach (Spinacia oleracea). Spinach germinates most reliably in cool soil (32-60°F) and once established tolerates air temperatures as low as 15°F. For fall production sow spinach in flats in early September and transplant in mid to late September. If frost threatens, cover the bed with heavy weight row cover. For winter harvested spinach, direct sow in late September. For the best results choose spinach varieties that are fast-growing and resistant to downy mildew (Peronospora farinosa). 

Kale (Brassica oleracea var. sabellica) is another great contender for most dependable fall vegetable. However, to grow the best full-size leaves before the Persephone period begins, consider transplanting 4- to 6-week-old plants in mid to late September. Always make sure your transplants are well acclimated or ‘hardened off’ before transplanting. Be sure to select fast-growing and cold-tolerant kale varieties. For more information about growing fall vegetables, join us at the Somerset County Extension office (7 County Drive, Skowhegan) at 4:00 p.m. on September 20 for Planting the Fall Garden, the first program in the Fall in the Garden Learning Series

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

Three wrists with temporary tattoos: cherries, asparagus, and cucumber slicesAlice started off the month of September at El Rancho Del La Vida Addiction and Recovery Center, where she taught another 10-week Eating Smart Being Active series.

She also attended an event called Roger’s Field Farm Day in Old Town where she handed out smoothies and temporary tattoos while promoting EFNEP programming.

This past week, Alice joined an EFNEP team meeting in Orono where all of the Community Education Assistants from across the state came together in person for the first time since the pandemic. They were introduced to a new middle school and teen curriculum called Teen Cuisine which she plans to teach in local schools this fall.

The News

Maine Gardener Training

Applications open on Thursday, September 28

This in-depth online course is designed to supply learners with a foundation in horticulture education and skills for use in their personal home gardens. Recommended for those who would be interested in the Master Gardener Volunteer training program but without the volunteer aspect. Visit the Maine Gardener Training webpage for more information.

Maine Horticulture Apprentice

Woman planting seedlingsApplications open on Thursday, September 28

Developed with input from horticulture industry leaders, this 3-part, comprehensive curriculum is designed to supply learners with a foundational horticulture education for skilled entry-level positions in the industry. Visit the Maine Horticulture Apprentice webpage for more information.

Canning Basics Demo at the Common Ground Country Fair

Saturday, September 24, 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.


Free with fair entry

Did your garden produce more than you can eat? Join Extension food preservation staff for a canning demonstration and learn how to enjoy your produce all winter! Visit the Food Preservation Workshops webpage for more information.

Fall Food Safety Training for Volunteers Cooking for Crowds

Two women preparing foodUniversity of Maine Cooperative Extension will offer several opportunities for volunteer cooks to receive important food safety training in September and October. “Cooking for Crowds” will be available through both in-person workshops in multiple locations and via Zoom.

This popular course offers up-to-date information on how to handle, transport, store and prepare foods safely for large group functions such as soup kitchens, church suppers, food pantries and community fundraisers. Participants receive a manual specifically designed for volunteer cooks, certificate of attendance, posters, a magnet and thermometers. This class meets the Good Shepherd Food Bank food safety training requirements.

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

Preserving the Maine Harvest Webinar Series 2022

Thursdays, September 22 and October 20, 2022

12:00-12:45 p.m.

Join the University of Maine Cooperative Extension food preservation staff for a lively discussion and demonstration on how to preserve Maine foods throughout our growing season.

$5 suggested donation per class.

Registration is required – Participants will receive the Zoom information after registering for this event. For more information and to register, visit the program webpage.

If you need technical assistance, please contact Eavan Sibole at or 207.781.6099.

Obsolete Pesticide Collection

Each October, the Maine Board of Pesticides Control conducts a program to collect and properly dispose of banned and unusable pesticides from homeowners and farms. Preregistration is required and collections are held at four sites across the state. 

The next collection will be held during October 2022, one day each in Presque Isle, Bangor, Augusta, and Portland. More details coming soon. Registrations for the October 2022 collection must be submitted by September 26

More information about the program may be found on the Obsolete Pesticide Collection webpage.

Thrive Maine – Pandemic Recovery Business Loan Program

The new “Thrive Maine” program, administered by the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME), will offer forgivable loans to support the continued economic recovery of eligible Maine small businesses who experience losses, increased costs, or market interruptions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Small businesses may apply for loans of up to $2 million. If businesses are approved and continue to meet program terms, loans may be fully forgiven over a four year period. Applications are expected to be available in September 2022.

Full eligibility details and other information can be found on the Thrive Maine webpage.

Grow Maine – State Small Business Credit Initiative

Grow Maine, administered by FAME in conjunction with various statewide lending partners, will provide up to $62 million of State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) funding to eligible Maine businesses. Eligible businesses include for-profit and nonprofit companies with fewer than 500 employees. Funding will be available through FAME and its intermediary partners via loan guarantees, direct loans, and equity capital. Loans up to $5 million will be available (not to exceed $20 million per project) and interest rates will be set by the participating lending institution. Grow Maine is intended to provide broad access to capital to help Maine businesses grow and provide jobs for Maine people that will have long-term positive effects on Maine’s economy. Applications are expected to be available in September 2022.

For more information, visit the Grow Maine webpage.

Greenhouse Plastic Recycling Program

Greenhouse covered in plasticUniversity 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 for Small-Scale Farmers Video Available

Did you miss the presentation on what you need to know to install a new irrigation system? Check out this recording to see what you missed.

Dr. Sumon Datta, Assistant Extension Professor and Extension Agricultural Engineer for the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, did a Zoom presentation on what small-scale farmers should consider before they expand or install a new irrigation system.

Once you have viewed this video, please help us by completing this short survey.

Pasture Walk at Wolfe’s Neck Center

September 20, 2022

Wolfe’s Neck Center Dairy Farm, 184 Burnett Rd., Freeport, ME 04032

Co-hosted by UMaine Cooperative Extension and Wolfe’s Neck Center, this event will include a PaddockTrac demonstration and will cover pasture reseeding, no-till drill trial, soil health, and a WNC research update. Jason Lilley, Assistant Extension Professor, will be a featured speaker.

Cost: FREE – Water and milk provided. Bring your own lunch. Plastic boots will be provided for biosecurity.

Advanced registration by Monday, September 19, 2022 required. For more information and to register, visit the program registration page.

5th Maine Cattlemen’s College

beef cattle herdOctober 15, 2022, 9:00 a.m.

J. Franklin Witter Teaching & Research Center – Chute Center, 160 University Farm Rd., Old Town, ME 04468

Join the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the Maine Beef Producers for a day of education focusing on Forage and Pasture use in Beef Cattle Farming. Get a chance to ask leading experts questions, interact with service providers, and participate in the silent auction to benefit the Maine Beef Producers Association Scholarship fund.

Participants will learn about forage testing, interpreting forage test results, incorporating principles of forage nutrition into their program, and the science behind pasture health and appropriate stocking rates.

Cost: $40 (student rate – $25), limited scholarships available – Meal Included (Steak)

For more information and to register, visit the program webpage or contact Melissa Libby Babcock at or call 207.581.2788.

NEW! Maine Farmers Market Price Report

The Maine Farmers Market Price Report is a website where weekly data is uploaded and available for all to access.

Made possible with funding throughout the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry and the support of the Maine Federation of Farmers Markets, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Maine Farmland Trust and the University of Maine, this new site is now up and running, piloting a new statewide price report which will be focused on farmers market prices for a limited number of crops (in 2022) with the aim of building a tool that will expand into other markets and products in the future.

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.

PFAS Resource Hubs

The News in 4-H

4H Clover

Re-enrollment Time is Approaching

It’s hard to believe, but this 4-H year will be coming to an end September 30, and re-enrollment will begin October 1 with a deadline of December 31.  Keep an eye out for more information on how to re-enroll in ZSuites!

Volunteers, remember that you must have a background check every three years. Contact Karen Giles ( at the Somerset County Extension office for more information.

4-H Volunteer Training Starts October 19

University of Maine Cooperative Extension will offer a two-part online training for adults interested in becoming 4-H volunteers from 6–7 p.m. October 19 and October 26.

Start Your 4-H Volunteer Journeywill explore the ways volunteers can become involved with UMaine Extension 4-H, what the 4-H youth development program is about and requirements for becoming a volunteer. Participants will also hear from youth and volunteers currently active in Extension 4-H and do a hands-on activity together.

The training is free; registration is required by October 12. Register on the event webpage. For more information or to request a reasonable accommodation, contact Jennifer Lobley, 207.255.3345;

Congratulations to All Who Participated in the Skowhegan State Fair!

4-H youth and her horse wearing Toy Story costumes
Samantha B., Costume Class

The Skowhegan State Fair was held from August 11 to August 20. Items were on display in the 4-H Exhibit Hall, showcasing 179 completed projects and 12 Educational Exhibits from 6 clubs from Somerset, Franklin, and Waldo Counties, including woodworking, arts and crafts, animal husbandry, food and nutrition, and much more. There were over 5600 visitors to the exhibition hall during the fair. Many thanks to our volunteer judges. It is not easy work to evaluate all those entries!

Congratulations to the Solon Pine Tree 4-H Club for winning the Peoples’ Choice Award!

Fairgoers viewed and cheered for 4-H members who participated in youth shows for horses and minis, beef cattle, dairy cows, working steers, sheep, and goats in the youth shows.

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