Extension Perspectives Newsletter – March 2024

Mark your calendar!

March 14
2024 Maine Dairy Seminar

March 22
Downeast Agriculture and Forestry Conference

March 25
Growing and Marketing Specialty Potato Varieties

March 26
Farm Sitters Course Begins

March 26
Seed Starting at the Commercial Scale

March 26
Maine Vegetable and Fruit School

March 27
Cover Cropping for Nutrient Management 

March 28
UMaine Extension Hosts Online Parenting Workshop for Farmers of Land and Sea

April 1
WCEA Scholarship Deadline

April 2
Harvesting Hidden Gems: Practical Insights for Growing Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes

April 3
Agricultural Mediation Training 

April 6
Learn About Growing Fruit Trees as a Business

April 9
Backyard Blueberry Growing Tips from UMaine Experts

Click here for a list of all events, workshops and classes throughout Extension.

In this issue…


Waldo County Residents, Please Consider Joining Us!

Scholarship Available for Waldo County Residents 

Maine Families

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month


Maine 4-H has Toolkits for Educators

Home Horticulture

Maine Maple Sunday Weekend

Commercial Agriculture

Extension Offerings
2024 Maine Dairy Seminar
Downeast Agriculture and Forestry Conference
Growing & Marketing Specialty Potato Varieties
Farm Sitters
Seed Starting at the Commercial Scale
Maine Vegetable and Fruit School
Cover Cropping for Nutrient Management 
Lunchbox Series: Parenting
Harvesting Hidden Gems
16-Hour Agricultural Mediation Training
Learn About Growing Fruit Trees as a Business
Backyard Blueberry Growing Tips from UMaine Experts

Waldo County Extension Association (WCEA)

Waldo County Residents, Consider Joining Us!
Are you interested in networking with others involved in agriculture around Waldo County?  Do you want a voice in local programming to support residential and commercial growers, farmers, and producers?  Would you like to help plan the 30th anniversary of Rural Living Day?  Consider supporting your local University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Waldo County by joining the Waldo County Extension Association (WCEA).  It requires only a couple of hours a month and we take the summers off.  Snacks at our meetings are a bonus!

The WCEA provides guidance to the Extension for developing and implementing educational programs that will benefit our county’s residents, such as Rural Living Day and Farmers’ Potluck Dinners.  We also officially direct the Cooperative Extension’s work in Waldo County and give a yearly post-secondary scholarship to an area student pursuing a career in a field that supports the Extension’s mission.  

Please consider joining us!  We meet monthly from September-May at the Extension office in Waldo and by Zoom. Members serve three year terms.  Contact the Extension office at extension.waldo@maine.edu or by phone at 207.342.5971 for more information.  You may also fill out the Volunteer Nomination Form.

Thanks very much!

Darcy Johnston, WCEA President

Scholarship Available for Waldo County Residents
The Waldo County Extension Association in cooperation with the Maine 4-H Foundation is pleased to announce the availability of a $1500 scholarship for Waldo County residents entering their first or second year of post-secondary education.

Applicants must be pursuing a career in a field that supports the Cooperative Extension’s mission “to help Maine people improve their lives through an educational process that uses research-based knowledge”.  Examples of eligible fields of study include, but are not limited to agriculture, horticulture, crop science, animal sciences, natural resource conservation, environmental sciences, home economics, nutrition, food systems, preventative health, youth development, and education.

Students who apply for this scholarship must complete the application and a 500-600-word essay discussing their future career goals and how this scholarship will help them achieve these goals. Applications must be returned to the Waldo County Cooperative Extension office by April 1st. A single scholarship recipient will be announced by April 15th, with funds awarded following completion of a successful first semester. 

More information as well as application materials can be found here.

For more information, contact Sadee Mehuren at sadee.mehuren@maine.edu or call 207.342.5971 or 1-800-287-1426 (toll free in Maine). 

Maine Families                                                                                             


April is Child Abuse Prevention Month
Over the next few months our newsletters will highlight Maine Families Home Visiting and supporting families. This month we will focus on community efforts to raise awareness of preventing child abuse and neglect.

Boy Playing
Boy Playing

Raising awareness is a critical step in preventing child abuse. When we take action, children are safer and have the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong.
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension Maine Families in Waldo County partners with Maine Children’s Trust to coordinate and support statewide activities for Child Abuse Prevention Month. This is our opportunity to build support for what we know must happen year round: supporting parents and caregivers and building the relationships and connections in communities so that families can readily access what they need to help every child. 

All month long, organizations, and individuals throughout Maine and across the country plan activities and promote messages to remind us all of the importance of positive childhood experiences and what we can do to support those experiences as well as support families who experience challenges. It takes all of us working together to build well-being for all children and families. We all want to live in a community where families thrive and we know that takes each of us. We are proud to stand with so many across Maine for this vital effort and we hope that you will join us.

Here’s how everyone can show their support: Share the message that the well-being of children and families is directly related to if they live in supportive, strong, inclusive, and stable communities. Here’s how:

  • Create and display pinwheels at your home or office.
  • Take action! Join or host a Front Porch Project or Protective Factors workshop!
  • Check off Maine Children’s Trust on your State Income Tax form.
  • For the month of April, get social for CAP Month:
    • Follow the Maine Families in Waldo on Facebook and share our posts!
    • Join us on Friday, April 5th, 2024 for Wear Blue Day and post pictures of you and your colleagues wearing blue.

Remember that you are eligible for a parent educator/family visitor through Maine Families if you are pregnant or have an infant under the age of 3 months. Please call or email us at 207.322.2879 or melanie.l.bryan@maine.edu.

4-H Happenings

Maine 4-H Has Toolkits For Educators!
The University of Maine’s 4-H program is best known for their 4-H clubs and other educational opportunities, but did you know that they have resources available for Maine educators? Maine 4-H hosts a series of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) toolkits that provide all the tools educators need to deliver STEM content to youth and provide hands-on learning opportunities. Over 40 toolkits covering a wide variety of topics are available for loan through the 4-H STEM Toolkit program. 

4-H STEM toolkits are designed to be used by educators in formal and informal learning environments. Each kit is a comprehensive toolkit for educators, parents, and youth leaders to facilitate. interactive learning experiences. Each toolkit includes the following: 

  • Lesson plans for 4-H science activities
  • Materials to support lesson plans
  • Itemized list of materials in the kit including notation of which materials are not included
  • 4-H life skills wheel and definitions
  • General media release form for youth and adults
  • Evaluation forms: please fill out and return if possible
  • Toolkit return checklist: to be filled out before returning the toolkit.                                                                                           

A complete list of the toolkits offered through Maine 4-H’s STEM Toolkit program as well as guidelines for participation can be found at extension.umaine.edu/4h/stem-toolkits/. More  information can also be obtained by contacting your local UMaine Cooperative Extension office.

Photo: 4-H program participants play a game from the Science of Seaweed STEM toolkit that educates youth on the volatility of marine ecosystems. 

For more information on how to get involved in a 4-H animal science project please contact your local UMaine Cooperative Extension office or visit extension.umaine.edu/4h/youth/animal-science.

Home Horticulture

Maine Maple Sunday Weekend
Maine Maple Sunday Weekend is scheduled for March 23-24 this year, and tapping maple trees is a sure sign of Spring. We have several publications in the Cooperative Extension publications catalog worth checking out:

#7036 How to Tap Maple Trees & Make Maple Syrup
#7038 Maple Syrup Quality Control Manual
#7041 Licensing and Regulations for Maple Syrup Processing in Maine      

Also, check out these videos:

Remember, Cooperative Extension has a variety of publications available that may interest both you and your clients; 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!Commercial Agriculture

Commercial Agriculture

Extension Offerings
With spring fast approaching, topical classes and workshops abound! If you have a woodlot to manage, are interested in maple and or Christmas tree production, raise chickens, lowbush blueberries, vegetables, or are interested in developing an agritourism enterprise, please consider attending the Downeast Agriculture and Forestry Conference at the University of Maine at Machias on March 22nd. Register online here. Additionally, the final offering for 2024 of the Growing and Marketing Specialty Potato Variety program will be offered on March 25th from 4:00 to 6:00 PM at the Knox-Lincoln Extension office (377 Manktown Road, Waldoboro). Pre-registration is required and can be found here

These are just a sample of the numerous educational opportunities available through the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. You can always access our library of publications on agriculture topics here. This library is a great place to research best practices in agricultural production, including soil and nutrient management and integrated pest management. Please contact Brett Johnson at 207.342.5971 or brett.w.johnson@maine.edu with questions or requests for information.

Best wishes,

Brett Johnson, Sustainable Agriculture & Farm Business Management Educator

2024 Maine Dairy Seminar
March 14, 2024
Elks Lodge in Waterville, ME

We are already one month away from the Maine Dairy Seminar!! This year, the Maine Dairy Industry Association (MDIA) and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension bring in John Winchell (Alltech) and John Porter (Farm Planning Services, LLC) to talk to us about forage conservation and on-farm construction.

In addition, the event will feature the MDIA Annual Meeting, awards ceremony, trade show, and buffet lunch.

To register, click here. You can also check this webpage for more information.

Downeast Agriculture and Forestry Conference
Friday, March 22, 2024
8:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
University of Maine at Machias
Torrey Hall, Rooms 226, 228, and 230
116 Obrien Avenue, Machias, Maine 04654

This event brings agricultural and forestry management experts from UMaine, local agencies, and non-profit organizations to Machias to share information with Washington County farmers, growers, and forestland owners. The day will begin with two concurrent session tracks with one for Agriculture and one for Forestry, followed by lunch. Then we will hear from NRCS on the important opportunities available for both farm and forest land owners. 

Specific topics will include avian flock disease management, wild blueberry field management, using crop and pest forecasting tools, advanced high tunnel vegetable production, maple production, climate smart forestry management, and Christmas tree farm management. Throughout the day participants will be able to connect with local representatives from UMaine, local agencies and nonprofits who can assist them that day and in the future. Cost: Pay what you can ($0-$60) Register Online 

For more information, email: lily.calderwood@maine.edu

Growing & Marketing Specialty Potato Varieties
March 25, 2024
UMaine Extension office, 377 Manktown Rd, Waldoboro
4-6 PM

Join 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.

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, go to: www.extension.umaine.edu/waldo/programs/ag/growing-marketing-specialty-potato-varieties/

Farm Sitters Course
March 26, 2024

The purpose of this course is to equip individuals with the tools to serve as effective farm sitters and to understand the general responsibilities of helping an animal-based farm enterprise successfully continue in the absence of the farmer or manager. To learn more, click here.

Seed Starting at the Commercial Scale
March 26, 2024 9:00 AM
When: March 26, 2024
Time: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Location: Morning Dew Farm Seedling & Supply, 49 Center Street, Damariscotta, Maine 04543
Presenter: Brady Hatch, co-owner of Morning Dew Farm

Come join UMaine Extension and the Maine New Farmer Project at Morning Dew Farm in Damariscotta, Maine for a farm visit about Seedling Production Techniques with Morning Dew Farm’s Brady Hatch. Morning Dew Farm is owned and operated by husband, and wife team Brendan McQuillen and Brady Hatch. This is a good chance for new farmers to learn about seedling production techniques and to network with other new farmers and service providers.

This event is part of the Maine New Farmer Farm Visit Series – click here for more information.

Maine Vegetable and Fruit School
When: Tuesday, March 26, 2024
Time: 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Location: Elks Lodge #964, 397 Civic Center Drive, Augusta, Maine 04330

This day-long school is sponsored by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the Maine Vegetable and Small Fruit Growers Association. Lunch will be provided.

Cost: $45. Credits: Pesticide applicator training credits are pending. Click here for more information or to register.

Cover Cropping for Nutrient Management
Date: March 27, 2024
Time: 6:00 pm-7:30 pm
Location: UMaine Regional Learning Center, 75 Clearwater Drive, Suite 104, Falmouth, Maine OR online via Zoom

Fertilizer is expensive. In this webinar we’ll discuss how cover crops can play a central role in preventing nutrients from leaving your soils, providing nitrogen, and influencing when soil nutrients are available to your crops. UMaine Extension Sustainable Agriculture Educator, and Northeast Cover Crop Council board member Jason Lilley will lead this virtual session. Fee: Free

For more information or to register, click here.

Lunchbox Series: Parenting – UMaine Extension Hosts Online Parenting Workshop for Farmers of Land and Sea
March 28, 2024
Time: 11:00 AM

What are the unique challenges and benefits of parenting and farming at the same time? University of Maine Cooperative Extension will host its first “Land and Water Lunchbox ” session for farmers of land or sea on March 28 from 11am to 12 noon. This drop-in session will be an informal opportunity to meet with other producers to talk about parenting children of any age while tending to the job of farming the land or sea.

This is an opportunity to share what’s on your mind about the stresses of farming and parenting. It’s a safe space, facilitated by 2-3 members of the UMaine Extension Farm Coaching team. Participants do not need to be on camera and can choose to be anonymous. The session, which will not be recorded, will last one hour and participants may be invited into breakout rooms if affinity groups emerge, based on what the group needs. 

Registrants will be limited to a maximum of 20 people. The event is free of charge and a zoom link will be emailed to registrants. For more information or to register, visit the program webpage. To request a reasonable accommodation contact Leslie Forstadt, leslie.forstadt@maine.edu, 207.581.3487. 

Harvesting Hidden Gems: Practical Insights for Growing Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes
April 2, 2024
Time: 6:00 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.

This webinar will focus on practical strategies for growing potatoes and sweet potatoes. In addition to offering simple tips and tricks that will save you time and improve yields, our experts will share updates on their favorite varieties and pest management suggestions so you can create your own buried treasures this season!

Speakers: Brett Johnson, Extension Agriculture Educator, and Tom Witwicki, Cumberland County Master Gardener Volunteer. Program Fee: Offered on a sliding scale – $0, $10, $15

Register here.

16-Hour Agricultural Mediation Training
April 3, 2024 at 9:00 AM

Are you Interested in learning more about conflict resolution and resources in agriculture or becoming a Maine Agricultural Mediation Program (MAMP) co-mediator? MAMP offers mediators the opportunity to co-mediate* a wide range of goals, issues, and needs on farms and/or involving producers, loan holders, and members of the ag community.

This 16-hour training will introduce you to the range of topics covered inagricultural mediation. The training includes multiple guest speakers and daily opportunities to practice and review case studies around the types of conflicts and issues that arise within Maine’s agricultural community. For more information, click here.

Learn About Growing Fruit Trees as a Business
April 6, 2024
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Snow Date: April 13, 2024

In the classroom behind the barn.  There is no Registration Fee. Please RSVP by contacting Renae Moran at (207) 713-7083 or rmoran@maine.edu . Renae Moran will be teaching the basics of commercial tree fruit production including spraying, pruning and thinning.  Highmoor Farm, UMaine Agricultural Experiment Station, 52 US Route 202, Monmouth, Maine. Highmoor Phone: (207) 933-2100. 

For more information, click here.

Backyard Blueberry Growing Tips from UMaine Experts
April 9, 2024
6 PM – 7:15 PM

Join UMaine Cooperative Extension Wild Blueberry Specialist Lily Calderwood and Vegetable and Small Fruit Specialist David Handley as they highlight best practices for growing sweet blue backyard treats.

Speakers: Lily Calderwood, UMaine Extension Wild Blueberry Specialist and Assistant Professor of Horticulture, and David Handley, Vegetable & Small Fruit Specialist, Highmoor Farm.

For more information or to register, click here.

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