The Somerset Newsflash, July 2023

Important Dates


The News in the County

Food Preservation Two-Part Workshop – New Date Added!

August 22 and 23, 6:00-9:00 p.m.

Somerset County Office, 7 County Drive, Skowheganjars of strawberry jam

Our July class filled up, so we are offering this again in August!

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 22, 2023 – Part I: Overview of canning and water bath canning.

July 23, 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.

A soggy June is posing challenges on farms and in gardens.

At this time last year, many farmers and gardeners in Somerset County were struggling with too little water and looking for ways to conserve. The story this year has been one of intermittent sunshine and regularly saturated soil conditions. While it may be too late to save that first planting of our cucumbers or melons, there are many strategies to adapt your garden or commercial field to lessen the impact of too much rain. Planting on raised beds is probably the most effective way to improve localized drainage in the field. The use of plastic mulch over raised beds can also lessen the impact of heavy rain events on the soil and reduce the occurrence of wide fluctuations in soil moisture. Fluctuating soil moisture can often worsen some physiological fruit disorders, such as blossom end rot and fruit cracking in tomato. If you do decide to utilize plastic mulch, you may also consider placing drip irrigation underneath to provide the ability to precisely manage soil moisture, usually through the use of a soil moisture meter. Read Cooperative Extension’s Bulletin #2160, Trickle Irrigation: Using and Conserving Water in the Home Garden for more information on drip irrigation, and Bulletin #2752, Extending the Gardening Season to learn more about the use of plastic mulch.

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

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

Alice attended the Community Baby Shower in Skowhegan on June 24 and saw over 100 families to promote EFNEP. She also attended the Maine Nutrition Council Conference which was held at Falmouth Elementary School and focused on sustainability in our food systems.

Alice’s current adult class at the McAuley house in Bangor will conclude on July 14 with three graduates and one volunteer. Her summer youth programming is in full swing. She recently started a Kids in the Kitchen series at Millstream Elementary as well as the REACH afterschool program for K-5th graders. She will also be leading a virtual class with the 4H Summer Learning series where she will be teaching youth how to make ice cream in a bag.

Soon, Alice will be hosting a hybrid adult class in our county office called Cooking Your Way. The class will be open to in-person cooking and will be virtual for participants from Androscoggin, Sagadahoc, and Penobscot counties.

The News

Natural Resources Conservation Service is Hiring

Help us spread the word! The Department of Agriculture is hiring Natural Resource Specialists for several locations in Maine, including Skowhegan. The deadline is this Monday, July 17, so be sure to get your application in ASAP! Visit the job listing on USA Jobs for more information and to apply.

Fermenting Pickles Webinar

Jars of Pickles

July 26, Online


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.


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, July 18 – Small Farm Tools for Veg Production
  • Thursday, July 20 – Safe 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.

Julio 19, 5-7pm – Girard Farm

Northeast Mechanical Weed Management Field Day

July 21, Thorndike Maine

Would you like to learn how you can improve mechanical weed control on your farm? Mark your calendars for the Northeast Mechanical Weed Control Field Day, hosted by University of Maine Cooperative Extension and University of Maine Weed Ecology Group. This event will focus on knowledge exchange between farmers, researchers, and equipment retailers, featuring:

  • Tool demonstrations scaled for small to large vegetable and field crop production
  • Hand tools, walk-behind tractors, tool carriers, and tractor-mounted equipment
  • Presentations and panel discussions from farmers and researchers

Refreshments and lunch from Moe’s Original Barbeque will be served. Visit the program webpage for more details.

Maine Wine and Equine, 2023

Two Days, Two Locations:

Friday, July 21 from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Zillman Art Museum, 40 Harlow St., Bangor, Maine 04401 (Directions, Google Maps)

Saturday, July 22 from 8:50 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. (approximate)

University of Maine J. F. Witter Teaching and Research Center, 160 Witter Farm Rd, Old Town, Maine 04468 (Directions, Google Maps)

The Maine Animal Health Fund, the University of Maine School of Food and Agriculture and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension are happy to announce The Maine Wine and Equine event, a two-day social event and workshop geared to horse owners and families designed to explore the fascinating world of equine anatomy, biomechanics, the future of technology in the horse industry, and hands-on workshops, along with a wine tasting social and a Maine lobster!

Who should attend? Anyone interested in learning more about how horses function; a future sensor technology that will lead to virtual fencing, early health detection, GPS tracking, and saddle fitting; and those wanting to interact with global experts in the Equine Industry.

$85 per person

Children are welcome with parental supervision. Children 16 years old and younger, free admission with paid parent registration.

Register Online for Both Days of the Event

Rogers Experimental Farm Field Day

University of Maine Cooperative Extension will hold its annual Sustainable Agriculture Research Tour on Wednesday, July 26 at the UMaine Rogers Farm Forage and Crop Research Facility, 914 Bennoch Road. The free event is geared toward farmers, crop advisors and others interested in agricultural production.

UMaine agricultural researchers from the School of Food and Agriculture and UMaine Extension will present their field research on a variety of crops. Specific topics will include interseeding cover crops in vegetables, weeding tools for small and mid-scale vegetable farmers, crop rotations for hemp production, organic no-till dry bean production and variety trials on forage legumes, potatoes and dry beans.

Rogers Farm is part of the J.F. Witter Teaching and Research Center, one of several facilities that comprise the Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station.

This event is free and pre-registration is not required. Participants will receive two pesticide certification credits and two Certified Crop Advisor credits. Registration begins at 2:30 p.m., and the event will run from 3–5:30 p.m. Visit the event webpage for more details.

For additional information or to request a reasonable accommodation, contact Ellen Mallory; 207-581-2942;

Maine Summer Dairy Field Day

Thursday, August 10, 2023

The Northeast Tri-State Dairy Team is hosting another summer field day series, with a focus on milk quality. Attendees will rotate between 4 stations discussing proper milking procedures, culturing procedures, housing and environment, data/records/economics.

Location: Wright Place Dairy in Clinton, ME

Time: 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Cost: Free

Food: Light refreshments

Attendees are welcome to attend other states field days.

  • August 8– Vermont. Contact Whitney Hull at, 802-656-7563
  • August 9– New Hampshire. Contact Sarah Allen at, 603-825-5509

More information and registration.

Maple Sugarbush Management Conference

August 11



At this full-day program, maple and forestry research specialists, and maple sugarbush managers will share information about optimizing the health and productivity of maple sugarbushes. Lunch and refreshments are included.


The News in 4-H

Maine 4-H Days is Back!

4H Clover

Maine 4-H Days is back in 2023! You are invited to join Maine 4-H for a fun filled day of workshops on Saturday July 22! We will kick off the weekend with evening activites on Friday July 21 and have camping available for those who wish to stay overnight! Workshop space is limited, so register soon to secure your spot.  For a complete schedule or to register for the event please visit the program page.

To request a reasonable accommodation please contact the Kennebec County Cooperative Extension office at 207.622.7546 or email

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

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