Extension Perspectives Newsletter- January 2024

Mark your calendar!

January 22, 2024
Growing & Marketing Specialty Potato Varieties

January 24, 2024
Communicating about Personal Money Values

February 3, 2024
Backyard Maple Sugaring Workshop

February 6, 2024
Gravel Road Maintenance — Free Online Workshop

February 17, 2024
2024 UMaine Wild Blueberry Conference

In this issue…

The Waldo County Extension Association – Let Us Introduce Ourselves!
Maine Families Home Visiting-  Support for You and Your Family
New Agriculture Faculty- Meet Brett Johnson
Growing & Marketing Specialty Potato Varieties
2024 UMaine Wild Blueberry Conference
Backyard Maple Sugaring Workshop
Communicating About Personal Money Value
Welcome to Waldo County 4-H
4-H Ocean Explorers
Have You Ever Found Yourself Stumped by An Issue In Your Yard or Garden?
Gravel Road Maintenance — Free Online Workshop

Waldo County Extension Association (WCEA)

Let us Introduce Ourselves! Waldo County, Maine icon representing WCEA

The Waldo County Extension Association (WCEA) has two key functions:

  • To provide guidance to the Cooperative Extension for developing and implementing educational programs that will benefit our county’s residents.
  • To officially direct the Cooperative Extension’s work in Waldo County.

We also raise money to support a yearly post-secondary scholarship for students who are pursuing a career in a field that supports the extension’s mission. To learn more, click here.

The WCEA is made up of a group of Waldo County residents interested in supporting the mission of the Waldo County Cooperative Extension. We meet monthly from September-May at the extension office at 992 Waterville Road in Waldo. Members serve three-year terms.

Please consider joining us! We’re a fun group with a unified mission of supporting local agriculture. Contact the Extension office at extension.waldo@maine.edu or by phone at 207.342.5971 for more information.

About our Members

Darcy Johnston, President (Searsmont) As an agriculture teacher in five of our county’s elementary schools, I’ve benefited from the services of our local Cooperative Extension office. From professional development, gardening advice, and an on-site visit to a school greenhouse, the extension has been there for me and my students! I joined the WCEA to represent our youngest citizens and to give back to the Extension so they can continue offering valuable services and resources to our local communities.

Pat Blakeslee, Secretary (Belfast) Pat Blakeslee brings her experience as elementary teacher, Master Gardener, 4-H leader, editor/publications manager, and long-time volunteer to the role of board secretary. Her tenure as a part-time employee of Cornell Cooperative Extension also informs her efforts to support the mission and success of Waldo County Cooperative Extension. She currently serves on the board’s scholarship committee.

Sarah Crosby (Searsmont) I joined the WCEA Board to help assist families in Waldo County develop health and self-resilience. For infants, the Extension ‘s Maine Families outreach program supports healthy growth and early intervention. The very active 4-H programs provide education and build leadership skills. For adults raising livestock, vegetables and fruit, the information and workshops are critical to their success and continuation. As a retired school principal who has served for many years in Waldo County, I see WCEA’s work as creating a strong base in so many ways for the future of our community. When these attributes are not fostered to as many people as possible, there are inadequate resources for all.

Linda Oskamp (Stockton Springs) As a graduate of the University of Maine Master Gardener Program, I benefited from receiving in depth training in the art and science of horticulture. I also learned of the many essential services that the Waldo County Cooperative Extension provides to the community. Serving on the Executive Committee provides me the opportunity to guide and support programs and services that address the many factors that contribute to food insecurity in Maine and the extensive youth development activities of the 4H Program.

Ben Bucklin: As a member of 4-H in the Waldo County community, I benefited from getting involved with the Waldo County Extension Office. I was inspired by many of the community and volunteer projects led by my aunt within the Waldo County community. The ability to serve on the Executive Committee has allowed me to give back to my community in a variety of ways and hopefully help others. It has also given me an opportunity to grow as a person in many ways.

Maine Families Maine Families Logo

Maine Families Home Visiting can provide support for you and your family

As your child’s first teacher, you are the most important person in their world. As a pregnant person or parent of a newborn you are experiencing an exciting and sometimes challenging new journey…but you don’t have to do it alone! How does this all work?

Family Visitors can:

  • Offer support and encouragement
  • Available prenatally and through baby’s early months (may continue until age three)
  • Frequency and location of visits is personalized to fit your need
  • Provide evidenced-based information and answering questions
  • Connecting you to community resources and other new parents
  • Visit activities can support you and your child to encourage their development

What can you expect?

  • Non-judgmental encouragement
  • Developmental and other screening tools to support your family
  • Handouts and evidenced-based information relating to your family and child
  • Monthly group connections

Please call or email us at 207.322.2879 or melanie.l.bryan@maine.edu.

Curious about home visiting? Check out this video to see what it’s all about!


Meet Waldo County Extension’s New Sustainable Agriculture and Farm Business Management Educator

Brett Johnson joined the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in July of 2022 and comes to us after serving the people of Somerset County as their Sustainable Agriculture and Horticulture Professional. In this new role, Brett provides technical assistance to commercial agricultural producers in Waldo, Knox, and Lincoln Counties and develops educational programs in a wide range of topics including: integrated pest management (IPM), marketing of farm products, and farm business planning.

Brett was born and raised in Stillwater, Oklahoma and is a two-time graduate of Oklahoma State University, holding a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and a Master of Science in Entomology and Plant Pathology. Brett looks forward to working with producers to address challenges in production and identify new market opportunities with the goal of improving the sustainability of farm businesses in the Midcoast region. Commercial producers can contact him by phone or email at 207.342.5971 or brett.w.johnson@maine.edu.

Growing & Marketing Specialty Potato Varieties

Recent developments in consumer interest and demand for fresh-market potato varieties with novel size, shape, color, and taste profiles are creating unique market opportunities for specialty crop producers.
How can growers capitalize on this trend and produce these farm products sustainably?

Brett Johnson picking potatoesJoin us for a presentation and roundtable discussion to learn more about the growing and marketing practices utilized in the production of specialty potato varieties in Maine.

UMaine Extension Farm Business Management Educator, Brett Johnson, will deliver a presentation describing best practices in the cultivation of specialty potato varieties. This presentation will be followed by a roundtable discussion where commercial specialty potato producers are encouraged to share about their experiences marketing these products. Information gathered will inform the University of Maine’s ongoing potato variety trialing efforts.

Who should attend: Commercial farmers with an interest in producing specialty potato varieties, commercial farmers currently producing specialty potato varieties, new and beginning farmers exploring market opportunities. The workshop is free, donations are welcome but not required. Light refreshments provided.

For more information or to register, click here.

2024 UMaine Wild Blueberry Conference

UMaine Wild Blueberry Conference will be held on Saturday, February 17, 2024 from 9:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m. at the Moore Community Center, 125 State Street, Ellsworth, Maine 04605. Snow date will be Saturday, February 24, 2024.

For more information or to register, click here.

Backyard Maple Sugaring Workshop

Join experienced sugarmakers for demonstrations and discussion on all aspects of making maple syrup, the sweetest gift of nature, in your own backyard!

In the morning, learn about identifying and tapping trees, collecting and boiling sap, and more. After a short break, join us at Maple Moon Farm to look at their tubing systems and learn how you can set up this efficient sap collection method.

Morning Session: 9-11:30 a.m. at the Standish Town Hall, 175 Northeast Road, Standish, Maine 04084.

Afternoon Session: 12:30-3 p.m. at Dunn Family Maple, 419 Chicopee Road, Buxton, Maine 04093. Cost: $18

When: Saturday, February 3, 2024

For more information or to register, click here.

Communicating about Personal Money Values

Join us for a free online 2-hour workshop, Wednesday, January 24, 2024, 1-3 p.m.

In this workshop for experienced (5 years+) farmers, you’ll hear directly from farmers who have thought about the non-business side of money. You’ll think about your own priorities and have a chance to talk with others about how you’d like to move forward with your personal time and value in mind just as much as your business value. You’ll learn about the option of farm coaching for continued support in your planning.
These workshops will be led by Abby Sadauckas, farm coach, and farmer from Apple Creek Farm, and Sylvie Boisvert, farm coach and business advisor.

For more information or to register, click here.

UMaine-Cooperative-Extension-4H4-H Happenings

Welcome to Waldo County 4-H

4-H is the positive youth development program of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. In 4-H, youth partner with caring adults to explore areas of interest where youth acquire knowledge and skills that will build their confidence and give them the tools to be civic leaders. 4-H provides the flexibility for volunteers to plan activities and projects for youth throughout the county. There are several ways youth ages 5-18 can participate in 4-H: in school, afterschool programs, traditional clubs, and camps. In 2022, Waldo County 4-H served over one thousand youth through traditional club programs, short term 4-H workshops, one-time 4-H events, and 4-H camps.

Waldo County 4-H is always looking for caring adults to serve as volunteers and youth to participate in programs. For more information on Waldo County 4-H visit https://extension.umaine.edu/waldo/4h/.

Waldo County 4-H monthly newsletter

4H Ocean Xplorers

Ocean Explorers 4-H Program

Explore, create, learn! Waldo County 4-H is hosting a multi-session, interactive, ocean-focused STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) adventure series at the Belfast Free Library, 106 High Street.

STEAM Team Ocean Xplorers is a collaborative effort between the University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension Waldo County 4-H, the Belfast Free Library and the UMaine MARINE Initiative. This monthly series allows youth ages 8-12 an opportunity to explore and discover undersea and seaside wonders together with UMaine scientists and local field experts through hands-on learning experiences and activities.

The free program kicked off on Oct. 19, 2023 with Diving into Aquaponics. Held at the Belfast Free Library’s Abbott Room on the ground floor, it was an incredible afternoon filled with learning, exploration and hands-on experiences as youth dove into the world of aquaponics and discovered the wonders of this innovative farming technique at the Belfast Free Library!

With wide-eyed enthusiasm, youth from Waldo County witnessed the magic of nature’s interconnectedness as they learned about different tank systems and discovered the art of nutrient cycling, all while gaining a deeper appreciation for the ocean and its inhabitants.

Ocean Xplorers

The more than two dozen participants of the STEAM Team Ocean Xplorer multi-series program also eagerly took on the task of maintaining their own aquaponics system as each one got to take home their own mini tanks at the end of the event!

In the second session of the series participants learned about fish anatomy from students in the University of Maine’s American Fisheries Subunit. The more than 20 participants created shirts printed with rubber fish modeled after the Japanese printing technique Gyotaku.

This monthly series is designed to foster discovery, a sense of belonging, joy, and stewardship for Maine’s ocean and coastline, while introducing STEAM concepts through multi-sensorial engagement. By providing experiential STEAM lessons and activities led by scientists and practitioners, the program aims to inspire participants to envision their path to college and future career in STEAM. Throughout the program series, spanning until May, youth will explore diverse educational and culturally relevant themes, such as aquaponics, aquaculture, marine mammals and marine debris, deepening ocean literacy.

The next event, titled A Traveling Ocean Petting Zoo, will be held January 25th from 3:30-5 p.m. at the Belfast Free Library. To sign up, click here.

Home Horticulture

Stumped by an issue in your yard or garden

We are here to help! Horticulture staff offer one-on-one research-based information about a wide variety of topics, including plant and insect identification, troubleshooting garden, lawn, tree care and other issues around your home or helping you choose native plants that are just right for your growing conditions and it’s a totally free service! Google is great for finding tons of information but when you want to be sure that the information you get is valid and unbiased, reach out to the Waldo County Extension office.In addition to providing free individualized technical assistance, we also offer a variety of fee-for services including soil testing and tick testing for common tick borne illnesses as well as testing services for all kinds of plant diseases (most of these services are also free).

If you are an avid gardener or someone looking to enter into the field of horticulture, you may be interested in the online programs we offer including the Maine Master Gardener Volunteer program which offers participants 40 hours of in-depth training in the art and science of horticulture. Trainees receive current, research-based information from UMaine Extension educators and industry experts. In return, trained Master Gardeners volunteer their time and expertise in many ways for community programs and activities. If you don’t have time to volunteer but want to gain the knowledge offered in the Master Gardener Volunteer program, then the Maine Gardener program is a great option. Finally, if you’re looking for a career in the horticulture industry the Maine Horticulture Apprentice Training is a 3-part, comprehensive curriculum designed to supply learners with a foundational horticulture education suitable for skilled entry-level positions in the horticulture industry.

No matter whether you have been gardening all your life in Waldo county or just moved here we hope to be able to provide you with services to help you succeed and enjoy growing your own here in Waldo County.

Other News

Gravel Road Maintenance — Free Online Workshop, Feb. 6th, 6:30pm

This 1-hour online workshop will provide an overview for gravel road residents, lake and road association members, town officials, contractors, and other watershed managers to better understand methods and practices for evaluating and maintaining gravel roads. We will refer to the Maine DEP Camp Road Maintenance Manual. Presenter: John Maclaine, Maine DEP

The proper maintenance of gravel roads in Maine is important for providing residents safe access to their properties and minimizing costly capital repairs to these roads over time. It is also an important part of protecting our natural resources from degradation. In this presentation, participants will learn how proper maintenance protects water quality, about gravel road materials, how to evaluate a gravel road for maintenance needs, and how to implement gravel road Best Management Practices.

Provides 1 Continuing Education Unit (CEU) for individuals Certified in Erosion Control Practices by Maine DEP. Each CEU affords certified individuals one year of recertification.

For questions? and zoom link information, email or call: msteinman@maineconservationdistricts.com, 218-5311.

Hosted by: Waldo County Soil & Water Conservation District and Friends of Lake Winnecook