The Somerset Newsflash, August 2023

Important Dates


The News in the County

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.

August is a great time to manage biennial and perennial weeds. 

As we start to bring in tomatoes and other late maturing crops, we should reserve some time to assess the weed populations in our gardens. In particular, flowering biennial weeds, such as wild parsnip, Pastinaca sativa, should be addressed by mowing or digging before seed set occurs. When working around wild parsnip, be sure to wear gloves and cover your skin to prevent contact with plant sap, which can cause the skin condition, phytophotodermatitis. Perennial weeds that grow in a vining habit and have an extensive root system or underground storage structures can be especially concerning. The use of a broad- or spading fork to loosen the ground around the root system can help in physical removal of the roots. For perennial weeds that are too large to remove practically by hand, the cut stump herbicide treatment method is a targeted and highly effective method for removal. For more information on this technique please review this video produced by Katie Brooks at Penn State Extension. When using pesticides always read and follow label instructions. Call or write our office if you have any weed management questions @ (207) 474-9622 or 

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

Tomatoes on the vine in a gardenAlice Cantrell is our Nutrition Community Education Assistant and leads classes as part of Cooperative Extension’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP).

Alice recently finished her summer youth programming for the REACH afterschool program at Millstream Elementary School. Currently she is planning a new, 4-week nutrition series at our office called Cooking Your Way. The classes are free to eligible adults and consist of 4 lessons. As part of the program, Alice will be taking advantage of our new All American Selections garden and participants will be harvesting produce on site to use in some of the recipes. Future Cooking Your Way classes will be held throughout the year and a virtual class for Penobscot, Androscoggin, and Sagadahoc counties is also offered.

Looking forward, Alice is making plans to reach some new schools and is looking into some new series to host in the future.

Chainsaw Safety Course Set for Skowhegan

Woman using a chainsawSaturday, September 30 (Rain Date Sunday, October 1) 

8 a.m. – 4 a.m.

Yankee Woodlot Demonstration Forest, Skowhegan  

Somerset County Soil & Water Conservation District will host a chainsaw safety workshop with instructor Mike St. Peter of Certified Logging Professionals.

The workshop will begin with a 2-hour indoor session, covering topics to include Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), filing your chain, better understanding your saw, and directional felling. The class will then move outdoors. During this 6-hour field session, every participant will have the opportunity (but not requirement) to fell their own tree using modern directional felling methods. Participants should bring their own lunch to enjoy in the woods.

Participants are encouraged to bring their own chainsaw and must provide their own PPE. Required PPE includes steel-toed or safety toe boots, eye and ear protection, sturdy gloves, chaps and a helmet. Participants are encouraged to use the three-in-one helmet system with built-in face shield and hearing protection and wraparound-style chaps that protect the back of the ankle and lower leg.

The workshop registration fee is $50, payable at the workshop. Enrollment will be limited to 15 participants. A second session may be added with sufficient interest. For more information, please email the District or phone 207-474-8323.

This class will likely fill quickly. To secure your participation, please email name, contact phone number, and your skill level (beginner, novice or experienced) to

Yankee Woodlot Demonstration Forest is located next to the Somerset County Cooperative Extension building, GPS address 7 County Dr., Skowhegan ME 04976.


The News

Apply to be a Master Gardener Volunteer

Master Gardener Volunteer identifying a plant

Applications Available Now

The Master Gardener course will cover vegetable and fruit production, plants for the Maine landscape, soil health, composting, pesticide safety, food security, and more. Participants will be expected to engage in fun volunteer opportunities after the training takes place.


Canning Salsa Webinar

August 31, 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.


Helpful Publications

It’s August and that means delicious fruits and vegetables are ripe for the picking and many home gardening enthusiasts may be thinking about preserving your harvest. If you plan to can or freeze garden surplus this year, be sure to get up-to-date information. UMaine Cooperative Extension publishes information to help people find, grow, use, preserve, and store in-season fruits and vegetables.

 We have lots of resources in the Cooperative Extension publications catalog as well as many “how-to” videos.

Maine Offers Free Collection of Unwanted Pesticides to Protect Natural Resources

Maine residents can participate in the Obsolete Pesticide Collection Program, a joint initiative by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. The program aims to safeguard Maine’s natural resources and prevent agricultural pollution by promoting the safe and proper disposal of outdated, unused, or unwanted pesticides. 

Homeowners and family-owned farms are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity by bringing their unwanted pesticides, including herbicides, insecticides, rodenticides, fungicides, disinfectants, and similar products used in agricultural production or around the home, to collection sites in Presque Isle, Bangor, Augusta, and Portland. 

Key Information:

  •  The next obsolete pesticide collection days will be held during October 2023, with one-day events in Presque Isle, Bangor, Augusta, and Portland.
  • Pre-registration is required by September 29 to participate; drop-ins are not permitted. 
  • The program only accepts pesticides and spray adjuvants. Registration instructions and forms can be found on the program webpage
  • Each registration must be from the person currently possessing the pesticides, and materials collected on behalf of others will not be accepted.

More details, including drop-off locations and the obsolete pesticides inventory form, are on the BPC website

The News in Agriculture

Cucurbit Downy Mildew Alert

A strain of cucurbit downy mildew that primarily infects cucumbers and cantaloupes has been confirmed on plants in southwestern New Hampshire so it is time to start scouting your plantings. Early symptoms include angular yellow spots on the leaf surface. Consider using protectant fungicides ahead of upcoming storms. Resources:

The UMaine Disease Diagnostic Laboratory can assist with diagnosis.

Financial Coaching Opportunity

Offered by the Maine Agriculture Mediation Program, this pilot program will offer 6 hours of financial coaching with Allison Bishop, CPA and Financial Coach. This program is free for participants who will be asked to complete three brief surveys on their experience. To apply: complete & submit the MAMP Financial Coaching Application – Pilot Program 2023 (Via Google Forms). If you have questions contact the Maine Agricultural Mediation Program (MAMP) at or Lucy @ 207.974.9637.

Mediation Training

The Maine Agricultural Mediation Program invites farmers, fishers & ag community members, and ag service providers interested in becoming mediators, looking to enhance conflict resolution/management skills, or learn how to assist others in resolving their conflict-related issues to apply for our upcoming training. 

The 5-day hands-on, highly interactive practical training in will take place January 2024 in Bangor, ME. This training is designed as a “low barrier” offering with a focus on welcoming a diverse class of trainees — including but not limited to those in traditionally underserved communities such as BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, refugee/asylum seekers as well as bi-lingual language speakers.

This comprehensive training will include: demonstrations, discussions, exercises, videos, and role-play practice with mediation scenarios, in addition to mini-lectures. The sessions will focus on both the facilitative and transformative orientation models. Co-Instructors, Karen Groat & Leah Boyd, will lead the training. More information about the training here.

New: Maine Organic Poultry listserv

By request, MOFGA has created a listserv for organic production-scale poultry growers in Maine, and our organic livestock specialist, Jacki Martinez Perkins, will be facilitating this listserv. Please join if you are interested. For information on finding and joining GoogleGroups go here.

Listserv Name:

Reach out to Perkins with any questions you may have:

The News in 4-H

Fall 2023 Maine 4-H Agricultural Ambassadors Program

4H CloverWho: This program is for all Maine youth ages 14 – 18.

What: This hybrid program will provide youth with an opportunity to connect to local agriculture, build relationships with industry professionals, develop professional and advocacy skills, and explore careers in agriculture. The 2023 fall cohort will explore careers and local agriculture through in-person field trips (limited transportation available), and by attending virtual meetings to grow their professional skill set (e.g. resume writing and interviewing skills). Additionally, youth will complete a personal reflective project exploring the role of agriculture and their future. This program includes mentoring in post-secondary opportunities as well as exploring current issues around food systems, livestock, crop sciences, aquaculture, climate issues impacting food systems, food equity, and more.

Why: The goal of the Maine 4-H Ag Ambassador Program is to provide experiences for youth to explore their interest in agriculture. The program focuses on:

  • connecting youth with their local food systems and industries
  • exploring the richness and diversity of the Maine food system
  • developing “ag-vocacy” skills
  • increasing access to career and post-secondary opportunities in agri-science and food systems.

Where: Virtually and in-person throughout Maine.

When: Virtual Meeting Dates: October 18 & 25November 1 & 15
In-Person Meeting Dates: October 21November 10, and December 2.

How: Interested in Joining? Register Online by October 11.

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

Homemaker LogoExtension 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