Maine Farmers’ Market Convention 2014

The 2014 Maine Farmers’ Market Convention took place on Sunday January 26th, 2014 at Maple Hill Farm Inn and Conference Center in Hallowell, Maine.

2014 Programming
Please see links to presentations and resources below

What’s Happening at Your Market?
Roundtable discussions, facilitated by Tori Lee Jackson
What’s Happening at Your Market & Market Mgr. Roundtable Group Notes

What Do YOU Drive to Market?
Presented by Tom Roberts of Snakeroot Farm in Pittsfield
View Presentation/Slideshow
A presentation of today’s market vehicle possibilities. Tom Roberts has been attending farmers’ markets since 1983 and have driven station wagons, pickup trucks, hi-cube vans, extended Chevy vans, mini-vans and even a Honda Civic pulling a trailer. We will discuss the value, carrying volume, weight capacity and operating costs of a wide range of vehicles that would illuminate for many farmers’ market attendees what real choices are available to them today. Comparing the overall affordability, practicality as a multi-use year-round family vehicle, likely longevity and other such factors are a quagmire of research for people who need to do it only once every several years. Of course vehicle choices are constrained and defined by each farmer according to their cash flow, their expectations of growth, the type of products they bring to market (bulky and cheap or small and expensive) and the distance they drive to market. So we will cover a wide range of possibilities, both new and used, and from compact hybrid to one ton+ diesel box truck.

Why Governing Documents and Legalities Matter for Markets
Presented by attorney Dick Spencer and Ethan Robertson
Bylaws, insurance, incorporating as a nonprofit entity…. oh my! As farmers’ markets gain in popularity, these are all frequently asked questions that markets have about the structure and governance of their market. Dick Spencer, attorney-at-law, and Ethan Robertson, insurance agent, will review the options and explain how paying attention to these topics is not only important from a legal standpoint but also to ensure that market members and stakeholders are on the same page about the expectations of your market.

Market Managers Roundtables
Facilitated by Tori Lee Jackson
View Presentation/Slideshow

What’s Happening at Your Market- & Market Mgr. Roundtable Group Notes
Back by popular demand, here’s your annual chance to pow-wow with other market managers to discuss how your markets are (or are not!) functioning. Through facilitated roundtable discussion, we will explore pressing issues- such as how to get more of the membership involved, what the role of a market manager is and should be and what you’ve found to be successful tactics to growing your market and customer base.

The State of SNAP at Farmers’ Markets in Maine
Presented by Mike Gold of Maine Farmland Trust’s Farm Viability Program
State of SNAP at Maine FMs Notes from presentation and discussion
A presentation of baseline data on how EBT programs are working across the State. MFT has been working in collaboration with nonprofits, such as MFFM, St. Mary’s Nutrition Center, Food AND Medicine and Wholesome Wave, to collect data and case studies to examine what makes EBT programs successful and to ask some larger questions, such as how do these programs vary from urban to rural markets, what does long term sustainability look like and how can community partners work with markets to increase food access to low income Mainers. The presentation will be followed by a facilitated round table discussion focused on some of these larger questions.

Farmers’ Market Members and the Affordable Care Act
Presented by Malory Shaughnessy of Maine Community Health Options
View Presentation/Slideshow
Farmers’ markets are only as strong as their members. It is ironic that those dedicated to providing healthy, local food to their communities often lack affordable health insurance options. On October 1, 2013 new options for health insurance became available to Maine residents. On January 1, 2014 new coverage begins. What are the options and how does one access these new plans under the Affordable Care Act? This workshop will provide an informational overview to answer these and other questions about the Health Insurance Marketplace and the new CO-OP health insurance company, Maine Community Health Options. Malory Shaughnessy, Outreach and Education Specialist from Maine Community Health Options will give an overview of what people need to know to get ready. There will be time for a question and answer period and materials will available for more information.

Food Safety and Farmers’ Markets
Presented by Dr. Michele Pfannenstiel of Dirigo Quality Meats
View Presentation/Slideshow
It goes without saying that food safety is a vitally important issue to consumers and food companies alike. Creating a culture of food safety within a food business requires a comprehensive understanding of both the science of food production and the compliance obligations set forth by federal law and regulation. This presentation is designed to provide food vendors and market managers with the essential information they need to begin building and setting requirements for comprehensive food safety plan for farmers market participants. Get started with a thorough grounding on the law and the science of food safety, as our speakers explain how to gain a thorough understanding of the legal consequences of a food-borne illness outbreak, the major components of the Food Safety Modernization Act and provide an overview of HACCP. 

Responding to Market Demand: a case study of market growth in Brunswick, ME
Presented by Maina Handmaker of Six River Farm in Bowdoinham and the Brunswick Farmers’ Market Project
View Presentation/Slideshow
A new project is underway in Brunswick, Maine to create a year-round farmers’ market space by revitalizing a historic railroad barn. Maina Handmaker, a farmer at Six River Farm in Bowdoinham discusses how her once student project has grown into an expansive community effort to create a viable market for surrounding farmers and consumers alike. In a town with three farmers’ markets and reports of “up to 5,000 vehicles a market”, Brunswick serves as an example of other towns in Maine that are approaching spacemaking and market development in creative ways to respond to the demand. Maina talks about the steps taken to rally farmers and community support to start to bring this project to life.

Smart Growth for Farmers’ Markets – Getting a market off the ground & what needs to be considered
Presented by Ryan Fahey of Crescent Run Farm in Bremen and Clayton Carter of Fail Better Farm in Etna
View Presentation/Slideshow
Two market managers of newer markets explore the steps to starting a farmers’ market. Ryan Fahey of Crescent Run Farm took the lead on starting the Thomaston Farmers’ Market this past year. After several years of navigating Maine’s farmers’ market scence as a young grower, Fahey and her partner were searching for a market closer to home that would meet their marketing needs. After exploring several potential locations, Fahey set about rallying vendors and community alike behind the endeavor. Fahey will discuss the process of starting the market and thoughts on how to grow this Saturday coastal market from here. Clayton Carter, Market Manager of the Bangor Farmers’ Market, discusses a similar process in Bangor, including how to fill a niche in a town with two existing markets, what’s working well and where the market is headed from here.

Creating Viable Rural Markets in Maine
Presented by Sarah Smith of Grassland Organic Farm in Skowhegan
It is one thing to create a booming market in a city with a dense population, it is quite another navigating the growth of a market in a rural location. Sarah Smith, Manager of the Skowhegan Farmers’ Market, discusses her tactics for managing the market, the market’s creative approaches to responding to the customer base in Skowhegan and what areas of improvement they are still troubleshooting. The presentation will be followed by a roundtable discussion with those interested in diving into this important issue of viable rural farmers’ markets and greater goals of food access in rural Maine.

Speaker Bios

Clayton Carter  is the farmer- owner of Fail Better Farm– a Certified Organic vegetable farm in Etna, Maine. Clayton works in collaboration with Hanne Tierney of Cornerstone Farm to offer both veggie and meat products at the Bangor, Orono, Waterville and Portland Farmers’ Markets. Clayton is also the Co-Chair of the Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets.

Ryan Fahey is the owner of Crescent Run Farm, raising vegetables, pork, poultry and lamb with her husband Michael.  She is the manager of the Thomaston farmers market.  Ryan has a M.S. degree from the University of Maine in plant and soil nutrition and a B.S. in sustainable agriculture.

Maina Handmaker is a farmer and artist passionate about place. She is manager of  The Brunswick Farmers’ Market Project, an effort to revitalize two hundred-year-old freight shed barns into a year-round farmers’ market and community gathering space for Brunswick. She is a farmer at Six River Farm, a diverse organic vegetable farm on the shores of Merrymeeting Bay in Bowdoinham, where she also co-founded and operates Browns Point Press, a letterpress print shop dedicated to making work that celebrates food and agriculture.

Tori Lee Jackson is an Assistant Professor of Agriculture and Natural Resources at University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Androscoggin and Sagadahoc Counties, based in Lisbon Falls. Her work focuses on Farm Business Management and New and Beginning Farmer education. She also coordinates an annual Master Gardener Volunteers training, and works with Maine agriculture organizations including AgCOM, The Farmer Veteran Coalition- Maine Chapter, The Beginning Farmer Resource Network, and many grower/producer groups.

Dr. Michele Pfannenstiel received her BA from Wellesley College. She received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Georgia, and served as a veterinarian in the US Army Veterinary Corps. She founded Dirigo Quality Meats as a way to bring her acquired food safety skills to the locavore movement.

Tom Roberts  and his partner Lois Labbe own Snakeroot Organic Farm in Pittsfield. Snakeroot began in 1995 and is a MOFGA certified organic farm with five acres of gardens producing mixed vegetables, fruits, perennials and herbs. Tom and Lois also operate a 450 tap maple sugarbush and five greenhouses for producing seedlings and early and late vegetables. Tom and Lois have been farming together since 1990, and have over 50 years combined experience growing organically in central Maine. Tom has spearheaded the effort to create a statewide farmers’ market association since 1991. He created and maintained the original website for twelve years; much of the Federation’s current website content was pulled from that site. Furthermore, he has been the lead on writing and distributing MFFM’s Selling Outdoors newsletter since 1991.  Snakeroot Organic Farm attends Orono, Waterville, Pittsfield, Unity and Newport Farmers’ Markets.

Ethan Robertson’s parents sold the family farm when he was a young boy.  His father took a job with Farm Family insurance when he was 8, and his  insurance education began! Though his folks no longer made a living farming, Ethan had sheep as a 4H project and always helped out making maple syrup with his dad in the spring.  In college he studied biology/education and worked on dairy farms, then for a computer software company and finally for his family’s insurance agency.  He and his wife settled in Maine and Ethan started working his way into part ownership at All Points and Weber Insurance.   Ethan has seen firsthand how hard it is to make a living running a small business, whether it be a farm, insurance agency or sugar house! He enjoys working with people to help them save money, be more successful, feel more secure and protect their business and livelihood. Ethan works out of the Brewer and Madison offices. He is the president of the Somerset County Farm Bureau and has been active in the Farm Bureau Young Farmers Organization.  Ethan’s specialties include: Commercial insurance quoting and planning with clients, Facebook, and other social media.  Agricultural Sales and Business experience.  Leadership organization and leadership positions in groups and community organizations.

Malory Otteson Shaughnessy has over 25 years of public policy development and advocacy experience. She has held multiple government positions and has extensive stakeholder coordination skills. Shaughnessy served as a Cumberland County commissioner and was a founding member of the Cumberland Public Health District. In her position with Maine Community Health Options, the new nonprofit CO-OP health insurance company in Maine, she works in the development and implementation of community and consumer outreach and education. Shaughnessy received her MPP in health policy from the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service, and her BA in political science and economics from the University of Missouri in Kansas City. She has four grown sons and tends to a small urban permaculture garden with her husband in Portland.

Sarah Smith is the Manager of the Skowhegan Farmers’ Market.  She is also the Manager and Co-Founder of The Pickup CSA, a multifarm CSA serving Skowhegan and surrounding communities. Prior to coming home to Maine she worked as the student crew boss of the pastured pork operation and co-managed the garden at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC where she majored in biology. A recent Organic Valley Gen-O winner, Sarah and husband Garin, juggle the demands of three young children, 40 milk cows and four acres of mixed vegetables on their Grassland Farm in Skowhegan.

Dick Spencer is an attorney at Drummond Woodsum in Portland whose law practice includes representation of private non-profit conservation groups, school districts, and municipalities.  He helped draft Maine’s milk pricing laws and has experience representing individual farmers in connection with agricultural conservation easements.  He has also represented the Portland Farmers Market Association in its dealings with the City of Portland.  He is a member of Drummond Woodsum’s public sector group and has been recognized in Best Lawyers of America in the areas of Public Finance and School Law.  He is a former member of the Maine House of Representatives where he was the sponsor of Maine’s first Farm and Open Space Tax law.  He is an honors graduate of Harvard College and was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar at Columbia Law School.

A big thank you to our sponsors Johnny’s Seeds, Get Real Get Maine, Maine Health Access Foundation, Lee Auto Malls, MOFGA, and Maine Farmland Trust.