The Somerset Newsflash, September 2023

Important Dates


The News in the County

Tomato Tasting and Garden Tour

Tomatoes on the vine in a gardenJoin us on Tuesday, September 19 at 11:30 a.m. for a guided tour of our All American Selections Display Garden. Cooperative Extension Staff will describe the many attributes of the different vegetable varieties. Enjoy samples of at least ten types of tomatoes! Let us know you’re coming by completing the registration form on the program page or by calling our office at 207.474.9622.

Farewell to Brett

Brett Johnson next to gardenAs some of you may already know, Brett Johnson, our former Sustainable Agriculture and Horticulture Professional, has accepted and started a new position within Cooperative Extension. His new title is Assistant Extension Professor, Sustainable Agriculture and Farm Business Management Educator and he will be working out of Waldo, Knox, and Lincoln counties. We are very sad for this loss to Somerset County, but are thrilled for Brett and this new opportunity for his career. Good luck, Brett!

While we work to fill his former position, we will be forwarding your agriculture and horticulture questions to our statewide colleagues. If you know someone who may be interested in the position, please have them contact us at or at 207.474.9622. If you’d like one more opportunity to learn from Brett, consider attending the Tomato Tasting and Garden Tour on Tuesday!

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

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 finished an adult series called Cooking Your Way. She held it at our office which was a great success because the students were able to utilize the All American Selections garden and create recipes with the produce from it. This class will recur throughout the year and is open to any caregiver of children or young adults ages 19-25.

Now that the start of the school year is underway, Alice will be heading back into some of the local schools to teach youth classes. She also plans to start a collaboration with a new teen group that will focus on gardening.

On October 11 the Maine Hunger Dialogue will be conducting a soup competition for high schoolers and college students. After the judging is complete, all soup will be donated to local food pantries. Keep an eye out for the sign up link!

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

Preparing for the Storm

As you make preparations for Hurricane Lee, UMaine Cooperative Extension has several publications on how to keep your food safe without power as well as cooking during a power outage:
You can find these and many more bulletins in the Publications Catalog.

Maine Apple Sunday

Celebrate Maine Apple Sunday. The Maine State Pomological Society will hold the 23rd annual Maine Apple Sunday on September 17, with participating orchards around the state. Maine Apple Sunday kicks off the peak of the apple harvest when summer apples are still available but the main crop is ready for its first picking. Apple orchards from Wells to Caribou will offer special activities and free samples of Apple products.

Upcoming Food Preservation Workshops and Webinars:

  • jars of strawberry jamSeptember 18: Preserving Salsa

Location: Messalonskee High School, Oakland

Time: 5:30-8:30 p.m. | Price: $26


  • September 21: Preserving Meat Webinar

Location: Online

Time: 1:00-1:45 p.m. | Price: $5


  • September 25: Preserving Jams & Jellies

Location: Messalonskee High School, Oakland

Time: 5:30-8:30 p.m. | Price: $26


Help UMaine Cooperative Extension Improve


To help with future planning for the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, we have partnered with the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (PIE Center) to collect data to understand the needs of our clients, participants, employees, and partners. We believe the PIE Center will be able to assist UMaine Extension in achieving the following goals:

  • Understand public awareness of UMaine Extension as a brand and a trusted source of information.
  • Provide UMaine Extension programming and resources that are based on community needs, including but not limited to, historically and currently underserved people.
  • Respond to critical issues facing Maine’s population
  • Support rural, suburban, and urban communities.
  • Build upon UMaine Extension’s successes and decide areas of focus for the future.
  • Remain grounded in the organization’s principles and values, central to the land-grant mission.

Who should complete the portal questions? Anyone familiar with UMaine Extension.

Opens August 29 and closes September 17, 2023.

A paper version is available for those without internet access. Stop by or contact a local UMaine Extension office for a printed copy.

If you have already completed the previous version of the portal, you don’t need to resubmit; we have your data. If you would like to resubmit, please check the question in the portal that asks if you completed a previous version of the portal questions.

The online Statewide Community Needs Assessment Data Collection portal is live and can be accessed using the below link.

UMaine Extension Statewide Community Needs Assessment Data Collection

Please visit the website for more information on the UMaine Extension Needs Assessment process.

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

Dear Newsletter and Mailing Recipient:

We continue to be asked by our funders what impacts we have made on clients we have served in the past year. As a recipient of our newsletters or mailings, we would like to ask if you have used information from the newsletters, consultations with UMaine Extension staff, or attendance at virtual or live meetings to make a change in your operation.

This brief, anonymous research survey should only take approximately 5-10 minutes of your time. Thank you for your input!

This survey will be open for one month and we will send a reminder email in two weeks. You must be at least 18 years old to participate.

-UMaine Extension Staff

2024 Maine Agricultural Trades Show Participation Interest Form Now Open!

Are you an agricultural business, producer group, organization, or service provider who would like to participate in the 2024 Maine Agricultural Trades Show? Would you like to give a talk, host a meeting, rent space, offer business advising, have a booth, or sponsor a portion of the 2024 Maine Agricultural Trades Show? More info here including how to apply.

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.

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