The Somerset Newsflash, June 2023

Important Dates


The News in the County

Integrated Pest Management in Christmas Tree Production Workshop

Balsam Fir branchJune 27, 5:00-7:00 p.m.

Gooley’s Christmas Tree Farm, 263 Cowen Hill Rd., Farmington, ME

Presented by UMaine Extension Sustainable Agriculture and Horticulture Professionals Brett Johnson and Nick Rowley

This workshop will focus on a systematic approach to pest management in Christmas tree production systems. Participants will learn about weed management and there will be a discussion on control of smooth bedstraw at Gooley’s Farm. Participants will also learn about two significant Christmas tree insect pests and will hear of some current research being carried out by UMaine Extension to control these pests.

FREE. No registration required. For more information, visit the program page. For special requests, please contact Emily Collins at 207.474.9622 or email

Food Preservation Two-Part Workshop

Jars of PicklesJuly 11 and 12, 6:00-9:00 p.m.

Somerset County Office, 7 County Drive, Skowhegan

Ever wonder how to preserve all those great garden fruits and vegetables? University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s hand-on, two-part food preservation workshop will teach you the basics of canning, freezing, and drying garden produce, including water bath and pressure canning. Learn from the experts. We will provide fresh produce and canning jars.

Cost: $15 per person for 2-part series or $10 per class. The fee includes materials. Registration is required.

July 11, 2023 – Part I: Overview of canning and water bath canning.

July 12, 2023 – Part II: Pressure canning, freezing, and dehydrating.

For more information or to request a disability accommodation, contact Sharon Paradis, 207.834.3905, 1.800.287.1421 (in Maine) or

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

Brett Johnson is our Sustainable Agriculture and Horticulture Professional and develops educational programs and provides technical assistance to commercial agricultural producers, home gardeners, and community members.

Dealing with cool temperatures and excessive moisture is easier with cover.

As the middle of June comes and goes, the window for planting long season crops such as tomatoes, pumpkins, and peppers is quickly closing. With more rain in the forecast many growers may be asking, “Will I have enough dry days to get everything planted in time?” Putting raised beds under high or low tunnels can greatly improve planting conditions during a wet spring and allow for expeditious planting even during the worst stretches of weather. For more information about tunnels as well as other helpful season extension methods consult extension  Bulletin #1022, Maine Season Extension Options: Making the Right Choice for your Farm.

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

Alice Cantrell is our Nutrition Community Education Assistant and leads classes as part of Cooperative Extension’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP).

This month Alice has been completing the last of her school gardening and nutrition series and will soon be starting a summer youth series. She finished series with both Bloomfield Elementary and Forest Hills Consolidated Elementary.

Alice is currently teaching an adult Eating Smart Being Active series at the McAuley House and is incorporating gardening. She will be teaching an ice cream in a bag class for the Maine 4-H Summer Learning Series and is also planning a youth series for the summer school program at Millstream Elementary School.

Alice recently attended an all EFNEP staff conference and is looking forward to attending the Maine Nutrition Council’s conference at the end of June. She will also be tabling at the Community Baby Shower in Skowhegan and making healthy snacks for the event on June 24.

The News

Extension welcomes new Director of Veterinary Diagnostic Lab

Dr. Dana Hill joined the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in April 2023 as Assistant Professor, Veterinarian Specialist, and Director of the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL). The VDL provides diagnostic services to livestock producers, wildlife officials, and pet owners for disease testing and postmortem examination (necropsy) on all animal species. They also support the veterinary and agricultural sectors through interdepartmental collaborative research within the University of Maine System and involving state and federal agencies.

Dr. Hill has worked in the veterinary field for over 20 years and offers nearly a decade of experience in infectious disease research and veterinary diagnostics with a focus on economically important and foreign animal diseases. She completed her master’s degree at the Colorado State University Prion Research Center investigating scrapie and chronic wasting disease and continued on to veterinary school at CSU, graduating in 2018. She then served as a Veterinary Medical Officer at the USDA APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories while pursuing residency training combined with a PhD in anatomic pathology at Iowa State University. She became a Diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Pathology in 2022. Her PhD research investigated bovine tuberculosis, caused by Mycobacterium bovis, in U.S. feral swine populations.

Digital Plant Disease Image Submission

If you suspect your plants have a disease, you can easily take a picture and submit it online for identification and control measures.

Dr. Alicyn Smart announced that the Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab has a new feature for those wanting a plant disease ID via an image. Now, you can go to the lab’s website and visit the Digital Plant Disease Diagnostic Submission Form webpage. Here, clients and county staff can enter their contact and sample information and upload images for ID.

The digital sample process video has been updated to reflect this change.

UMaine Extension Tick Lab adds Powassan virus and Heartland virus to tick testing service

Blacklegged Tick or Deer Tick (adult female)
Griffin DillDeer tick.

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension Tick Lab is adding two new pathogens to its tick testing panels.

The Tick Lab will now be screening ticks for Powassan virus and Heartland virus in addition to testing for the pathogens that cause Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis and tularemia.

Powassan virus is a rare but serious pathogen that can be transmitted by infected deer ticks, woodchuck ticks or squirrel ticks; Heartland virus has been linked to the bite of a lone star tick. Powassan virus can cause severe neurological symptoms and is a potentially fatal illness.

“We are constantly striving to improve our tick testing service to better serve our clients and help understand the changing dynamics of tick-borne disease in Maine,” says Griffin Dill, UMaine Extension Tick Lab coordinator. “The addition of Powassan virus and Heartland virus to our testing panel underscores our commitment to providing comprehensive and reliable tick testing solutions for the people of Maine.”

Dill also notes that while cases of Powassan virus have been reported in Maine dating back more than 20 years, Heartland virus has only been found in certain Maine wildlife species.

To reflect the increased scope of the tick testing service, the price will change from $15 to $20 per tick sample.

The Legislature’s Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee recently unanimously recommended additional funding to support the growing demand on UMaine’s Tick Lab and maintain affordable access to testing for Mainers. If the state appropriations is ultimately approved, the university plans to return the testing fee per sample to $15, well below what other public university labs in the Northeast currently charge.

More information on ticks in Maine and submitting tick samples to the lab is available on the tick laboratory website, or by contacting 207.581.3880, 800.287.0279 (in Maine), or email

Helpful Publications

Spring is here and that means the planting and growing season will soon be getting underway and people will be pursuing outdoor activities. We have many resources to educate you about pruning trees and shrubs, starting seeds at home, insect repellents, ticks, mosquitoes, and Lyme disease. Fiddlehead season will be here soon, and we have information on cooking and pickling fiddleheads, along with an instructional video.

Here are just a few publications available from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension publications catalog that may interest you:

#2751  Starting Seeds at Home

#2762  Growing Vegetables in Container Gardens

#4198  Facts on Fiddleheads

#4060  Facts on Edible Wild Greens in Maine

#2514  Growing Rhubarb in Maine

#2067  Growing Strawberries

#2422  Growing Fruit Trees in Maine

#2172  Raspberry and Blackberry Varieties for Maine

#2410  Plant Propagation in Maine

#2411  Planting and Early Care of Fruit Trees

#2701  Designing Your Landscape for Maine

#5037  Japanese Beetle

#2513  Pruning Forsythias in Maine

#2078  Home Vegetable Gardening

#5047  Ticks

#2367  Lyme Disease

#5108  Insect Repellents

#5110  Mosquito Management

Remember, UMaine Cooperative Extension has a variety of publications available that may interest you; everything from agriculture, small business, home, family and youth, gardening, and lots more! So pull up a chair and browse the publications catalog. You’ll be amazed at what you find!

The News in Agriculture

2023 Summer Twilight Meeting Series in Franklin County

Please join the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and The Greater Franklin Food Council during the 2023 Twilight Meeting Series. These casual meetings are a great place to learn and connect with other farmers and community members, while visiting some wonderful local farms.

These events are free and open to all.

Come learn more about techniques you can use on your farm and the agricultural practices in your community!

5 p.m. – 7 p.m.

  • Tuesday, June 20 – Small Scale Veggie Production
  • Tuesday, June 27Christmas Tree IPM
  • Tuesday, July 11 – FSA and NRCS Programs, Forage Production & Weed Management
  • Tuesday, July 18Small Farm Tools for Veg Production
  • Thursday, July 20Safe Labor Movement
  • Tuesday, August 15 – Farm Diversification & Agritourism

 For more information visit the program page.

Farm tours en Español

Venga con otros agricultores y trabajadores agrícolas de habla hispana para una serie de recorridos por granjas sobre diferentes temas de agricultura sostenible. Estos eventos serán totalmente en español. Una comida pot-luck vendrá después del recorrido. No es necesario registrarse. 

Join other Spanish speaking farmers and farm workers for a farm tour series on different sustainable agriculture topics. Please note these events will be fully in Spanish. An informal potluck will follow each workshop. No registration needed. 

Junio 21, 5-7pm – Plantas Nativas para la Granja con Bas Rouge Farm & Forge

Julio 19, 5-7pm – Girard Farm

New Farmer Farm Visit Series – No Till farming in Bowdoinham

Calling all New Farmers — and Anyone with Fewer Than 10 Years of Experience in Farming!

When: June 21, 2023 – 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Where: Stonecipher Farm, 1186 River Rd, Bowdoinham, Maine

Presenter: Ian Jerolmack, co-owner of Stonecipher Farm


Come join the Boots-2-Bushels farm training program on June 21, 2023, from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at Stonecipher Farm in Bowdoinham, Maine for a farm visit about no-till farming techniques with Ian Jerolmack of Stonecipher Farm. This is a good chance for new farmers to learn about no-till farming techniques and to network with other new farmers and service providers.

Boots-2-Bushels (B2B) is a 9-month hands-on market gardening education and training program for beginning farmers with priority to military veterans, their family members, and farmers with disabilities. The program is sponsored by UMaine Cooperative Extension’s Maine AgrAbility in partnership with the Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener Association, and the Maine New Farmers Project.

PLEASE NOTE: You do not have to be a veteran nor be enrolled in B2B to attend this farm visit.

Who Should Attend?

New farmers based in Maine who have fewer than 10 years of experience in farming with a desire to learn more about no-till farming techniques.

For More Information and to Register

The News in 4-H

Register Now for the 2023 4-H Summer Learning Series

Summer Learning Series Logo2023 marks the FOURTH year Maine 4-H is offering a Summer Learning Series!  This year, workshops will run from July 5 – August 10, and there is something for everyone. Registration is now open. Would you like to learn more about the different birds in your backyard and beyond? How about a chance to bake along with a real chef – they will send you the ingredients in the mail.  You can learn to paint different creatures in the ocean, or discover how ANY person can become a real scientist at home. Dive into the different workshop options. To register or learn more, head to our website. Space is limited, so don’t wait!

4-H Adulting 101 SPIN Club

The “4-H Adulting 101 Series” will introduce basic adult life skills by exploring a different topic each week including personal values; building healthy relationships; buying and caring for a car; youth entrepreneurship; mindfulness and stress management; and a topic chosen by the participants. UMaine Extension 4-H staff and guest speakers will lead the discussions.

The club is free; limited to 20 participants. Register by June 16 on the event webpage to receive the Zoom link and introductory email. For more information or to request a reasonable accommodation, contact 207.324.2814; Additional information also is available on the Extension 4-H Virtual Learning webpage.

Save the Date for 4-H Dairy Judging and State Show

The Maine State 4-H Dairy Show will take place on July 22 and 23 at the Windsor Fairgrounds in Windsor, ME. The contest is open to all 4-H members who want to participate and will include educational workshops, a fitting contest, a grilled cheese contest, and more!

For more information on upcoming 4-H dairy events visit the 4-H Dairy webpage or contact; 207.342.5971.

2022/2023 4-H Volunteer Training Opportunities

4H Clover

As we get ready for the new 4-H year, we are looking forward to offering a variety of learning experiences (both in person and virtual) for our 4-H volunteers. Sessions are free of charge, but require registration. Some sessions have limited space. Visit the 4-H Volunteer Calendar of Training Opportunities to learn more and register!

For more 4-H news, check out 4-H Happenings, our monthly 4-H newsletter for Somerset County.

The News in Homemakers

Extension Homemakers is a volunteer group that develops leadership skills, supports community causes, and promotes UMaine Extension’s educational programs in nine Maine counties. These organized programs are part of the statewide network of Extension Homemakers.

Local group members meet throughout the year to participate in educational programs and identify community projects, such as providing assistance to local food pantries, nursing homes, or veterans groups, or funding educational scholarships or youth camp programs.

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