Convention Speakers and Panelists

Guest Speakers

Mike Bahner owns and operates Bahner Farm with his amazing wife Christa on 37 acres in beautiful Belmont. They grow a diversity of organic vegetables, raspberries, strawberries, herbs and cut flowers for sale at three farmers markets a week from May through October. They also sell at their farm stand and through a summer and winter CSA program. After working for 4 years on diversified farms in central Maine, familiarizing themselves with farmers markets, they struck out on their own. They first applied to farmers’ markets for the 2010 season and haven’t looked back. They also have two adorable little children who help tremendously with farm marketing.


Debbie Barnett has been helping eligible families make healthier food choices through the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Eat Well Nutrition Program for the past 5 years. This program helps spread the message that by learning cooking, recipe, menu planning, and grocery shopping tips, it is possible to eat healthier on a budget. Debbie’s Eat Well work takes place at the Gardiner Farmers’ Market as well as a number public schools and at various other sites in Kennebec County.


Tina Bernier is the WIC vendor manager for the state of Maine. She received her BA from Colby College in Environmental Sciences. Tina is an avid gardener and appreciates the farmers’ market community and services. She helped to start the Pittsfield Farmers’ Market with Tom Roberts in 1997 and has enjoyed shopping and supporting that market as well as many others throughout the state.


Sherie Blumenthal coordinates program development for the St. Mary’s Nutrition Center located in Lewiston Maine. The St. Mary’s Nutrition Center promotes community health through organizing, advocacy and education and is home to a food pantry, cooking and nutrition education programs for people of all ages, and Lots to Gardens, which uses urban gardens to create access to local food, empower youth, and build community. Since 2009, Sherie has helped organize the Lewiston Farmers’ Market with a focus on low-income access and SNAP incentive programming.


Arlene Brokaw began Imagine Dairy Farm in 2014 in Warren, Maine. Previously, she was a MOFGA apprentice and Journey Person, and has been making cheese for over 8 years. She is a current member of the Camden Farmers’ Market, and has been a member of the Damariscotta and Topsham markets in the past. She currently serves as the Vice President of the Maine Cheese Guild.


Clayton Carter owns and operates Fail Better Farm in Etna, Maine. He raises MOFGA certified Organic produce for sale exclusively at farmers’ markets in Waterville, Orono and Bangor. Clayton also serves as Chairman of the Bangor Farmers’ Market, Treasurer of the Orono Farmers’ Market and is on the board of directors for MFFM.


Gail Chase has served as KVCOG’s Community Development Manager for more than seven years. She was born in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, came to Maine to attend college, and stayed. She has participated in the business and cultural life of Maine as a founder of an alternative cinema, a film distribution company and a film festival, as well as in government as a State Representative and as Maine’s State Auditor. Gail also participates in agricultural activities as the Director of Maine WAgN, as a Board member of the Unity Barn Raisers, and as a member of Waldo Organic Growers. She lives in Unity with her husband Steven, and an assortment of domestic and barnyard animals. She spins, and dreams of sheep.


Debbie Crosby has worked for Food & Nutrition Service, USDA for 28 years, with 10 years military service prior to USDA. She is a life-long Maine resident (except for her time in the military). She used to have horses, pigs, chickens and a garden, but no longer does, preferring to purchase from the farmer or farmers’ markets and letting the younger people take care of the animals!


Leif Dahlin is the Director of Community Services at City of Augusta.


David Flannery has been with the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry for 5 ½ years. In his work as a Weights and Measures Inspector, David performs quality assurance work in such varied fields as scale inspections (from small scales to truck scales), gas pumps, firewood complaints, and milk tank calibrations. David and his wife own Cobb Hill Farm in Bucksport, where they have raised Black Angus cattle for the last 14 years.


Simon Frost – his wife Jane, and their two boys farm Thirty Acre Farm. They travel Portland to market their products at the farmers’ market, as well as selling wholesale throughout New England. They have a diverse veggie operation as well as producing a vast line of lacto-fermented products. Simon has served as the market manager of the Portland Farmers’ Market for the previous 4 years.


Tasha Gerken, MS, RD is a SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educator and Program Coordinator at Access Health in Brunswick with a background in clinical nutrition and public health. Last fall, she acted as EBT Coordinator at the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Market at Crystal Springs. Currently, she collaborates with the Merrymeeting Gleaners of the Merrymeeting Food Council to redirect surplus produce from farms and farmers’ markets to food pantries, soup kitchens, housing sites, and other partners serving low income populations in the Mid Coast Region.


Jessica Gorton is the owner of Mother Jess Herbals, which specializes in eco-friendly herbal concoctions for body and home, and a proud member of the Farmers’ Market at Mill Park in Augusta where she plays the role of SNAP program point person. She loves digging in the dirt, and is committed to helping everyone have access to healthy, local, delicious food.


Mark Guzzi and Marcia Ferry own and operate Peacemeal Farm in Dixmont, bringing certified organic produce to central maine for the last 16 years. Peacemeal Farm participates in the Bangor, Belfast, Camden, Orono, and Waterville farmers’ markets. Mark currently serves as the Treasurer of the MFFM boards, as well as the Market Manager of the Orono Farmers’ Market.


Leah Hancock is a Program Manager for the National Nutrition Incentive Network at Wholesome Wave, which includes more than 90 organizations representing nearly 600 direct-to-consumer markets in 38 states and D.C.. Leah currently facilitates statewide nutrition incentive program development in Maine, New Hampshire, Ohio and Florida, where she works with stakeholders to design and implement a network structure that will promote the long-term scaling of nutrition incentive programs in their state. Prior to her current role, she organized the implementation and evaluation of pilot projects in Wholesome Wave’s Innovations Lab. Leah graduated from Connecticut College with a B.A. in Sociology-based Human Relations and Hispanic Studies, also earning a certificate from the Holleran Center’s Program in Community Action and Public Policy with a focus on food policy.


Caitlin Hunter – Caitlin has a long history of managing and participating in farmers’ markets throughout the state, participating in her first market in 1980. She has been raising goats and producing her award winning cheeses since 1979. Caitlin not only runs her creamery, cares for her 60 goat herd, but also has been a great mentor for young farmers, apprentices, and journey people at her farm in Appleton. Currently Appleton Creamery is a member of the Belfast and Bath winter markets, and the Belfast, Bath, Damriscotta, Rockland, and Union summer farmers’ markets.


Lisa Lucas, MPH is Associate Research Specialist for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Metrics + Indicators for Impact (MIFI) project. MIFI is an online toolkit that empowers individual markets and market organizations through proven data collection strategies, actionable interpretation information, and customizable reports. MIFI is currently being piloted and will be available to all farmers markets in spring 2017. Before starting with MIFI, Lisa earned her master’s in public health from Dartmouth. She has worked in various academic research and nonprofit settings. She believes that research should be rooted in a community-based approach where all participants’ voices and concerns are truly heard and valued, and where everyone can contribute to the process. She enjoys program evaluation, survey design, writing and editing, solving problems, and working to build and better communities. In her free time you can find her downhill skiing.


Jack McAdam co-owns McDougal Orchards in Springvale with his wife Ellen. He is the Market Manager of the Sanford/Springvale Farmers’ Markets and co-chair of the Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets. He is involved in a number of agriculture/food related organizations.


Clara Moore has recently moved to Maine with daughter and partner Ryan Wilmsmeier to embrace Maine’s local food movement. Clara is a chef, born and raised in St. Louis. She has cooked coast to coast and in Mexico! Clara also has taught and written about food for the past ten years allowing her to share her huge support of local food. Clara is currently the Low-Income Program Manager at the Portland Farmers’ Market (the largest farmers’ market SNAP program in Maine) and is author of Shop Like a Chef.


Alfonso Morales, PhD (Northwestern), is Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He is a Vilas awardee, among the most prestigious awards given to faculty at the UW. He is originally from rural New Mexico with roots in family farming there and in West Texas. He has established a nationally and internationally recognized and policy-relevant program of research on street vendors and marketplaces that has described the organization and consequences of marketplace processes historically and across populations. He has consulted and testified for numerous organizations and governments. He has published four books and 75+ articles that are found in the top journals of four disciplinary associations.


Bob Neal raised, harvested and sold turkeys for 30 years to customers at farmers markets, stores and restaurants from South Portland to Rockland to Orono. He was a member of 19 farmers markets, so he pursued the process of evaluating, joining and leaving markets many times.  His tenure as a market member lasted between one week (Winthrop) and 15 years (Crystal Spring).  His farm continues under new ownership.


Elizabeth Pratt, MPH, is the SNAP-Ed Program Manager within the Center for Excellence in Health Innovation at UNE. Elizabeth holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Bates College and a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Prior to her work at Maine SNAP-Ed, she worked as a School Health Coordinator for the Portland Public Schools.


Abby Sadauckas, is a farmer and agricultural service provider. Abby operates Apple Creek Farm, LLC a certified organic livestock operation located in Bowdoinham. The farm sells beef, chicken, eggs, goat, lamb and turkey year-round directly to consumers at farmers markets in Brunswick. Abby is also project manager for the SARE grant awarded to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, entitled, Supporting Relationships for Farm Success. Abby is a board member of Bowdoinham Community Development Initiative (BCDI) and serves on the steering committee of Slow Money Maine.


Elizabeth Siegel, along with her husband Ethan and their son Samuel, own and operate Heritage Home Farm, a MOFGA certified organic farm in Appleton, Maine. Elizabeth has a background in Early Childhood Education and coordinates the children’s activities for the Union Farmers’ Market and Farm and Homestead area of the Common Ground Fair.


Ramona Snell – Snell Family Farm is truly a family farm with Ramona and her husband, John, being the third generation farming alongside the 4th generation, represented by their daughter, Carolyn. Their farm produces fruits and vegetables, including value-added products, and PYO raspberries and apples. Carolyn concentrates on flowers for farmers’ market and special events, like weddings. The Snell Farm has evolved from a largely wholesale poultry and apple farm in the 1930’s to today’s diversified retail operation. Over the years Snell Family Farm has sold their products at various markets across the state. In recent years, they have settled their marketing on their farm stand in Buxton and the Portland Farmers’ Market, with direct sales to restaurants in Greater Portland. Ramona and John both admit that their farm has survived by being able to sell locally and directly to the customer!


Sarah Smith can be found in many local food venues. Having managed the Skowhegan Farmers’ Market for 10 years, co-founding and managing The Pickup Local Food Delivery,and running her own certified organic farm since 2005, she has successfully put Central Maine on the map for collaboration and food access issues. 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. In her spare time, Sarah juggles the demands of three young children, 60 milk cows and five acres of mixed vegetables at her farm, Grassland Organic Farm in Skowhegan.


Trisha Smith has been a Community Education Assistant at University of Maine Cooperative Extension since 2015. She coordinates Sedomocha School garden activities and oversees Master Gardener Volunteers in Piscataquis County, among other Home Horticulture-related duties. Trisha is looking forward to establishing a Farmers’ Market Kids’ Club at Dover Cove Farmers’ Market with support from 4-H and Piscataquis Healthy Food for All.


Ronda Stone is a Consumer Protection Inspector with the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. Ronda is originally from Aroostook County and has roots in the agriculture community. She has also worked in both dairy manufacturing and low acid canning as a quality control manager.


Brian Wilson, P.E. is the Business & Cooperative Programs Specialist at the USDA Rural Development State Office in Bangor. Brian received his B.S. degree in civil engineering from the University of Maine in 1993. Prior to transitioning to Rural Development in 2008, Brian worked in the private sector as an engineering consultant, served in town government, and retired as a U.S. Army Engineer Officer. He is currently the State Energy Coordinator for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and manages the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program.


Nancy Wood is the Knox County Community Health Coalition’s Nutrition Educator for SNAP. She is a trained chef and in the course of her career has been a caterer, executive chef, restaurant owner, a vocational Culinary Arts instructor, and a restaurant consultant. Over the past two years, Nancy has worked with the Rockland Farmers’ Market to create the Rockland Farmers’ Market Kids Club where children are invited to join a weekly nutrition based exploration of their market.


MFFM Staff

Emily Buswell is a lifelong New Englander who grew up visiting her local farmers’ market weekly and tending her own backyard flock of chickens.  Her interest in agriculture and farm-to-table eating was evident even then, and her great enthusiasm for all things local has continued to grow ever since.  Now she visits her local farmers’ market each week with her own family.  She lives in Carmel where she and her family (and their backyard flock!) enjoy working on their homestead, with a focus on permaculture, towards their goal of food self-sufficiency. As MFFM Program Assistant, Emily works on a variety of Federation projects, including membership, Maine Farmers’ Market Snapshot Week, and social media. Emily joined the MFFM staff in November 2015.

Leigh Hallett – After graduating from the American University in Washington, D.C., Leigh completed graduate work in comparative theology and semitic languages at Boston University and at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Following a decade as an educator, she returned to grad school at UM, studying European history and political science.  Most recently she was the director of a cultural nonprofit, and brings experience in fundraising, programming, and community outreach. As a youth she enjoyed time staffing her grandparents’ farm stand and helping prepare for the weekly Fredericton, Boyce Farmers’ Market. She became Executive Director of MFFM in the summer of 2014.

Emilie Knight – With a background in environmental science, anthropology, and museum studies coupled with diverse work experience, Emilie brings many useful perspectives to her role at MFFM. A native to central Maine, Emilie got involved with the local food system at a young age when her family ran a soup booth at the Common Ground Fair. Since, she has worn many food system hats including farm-to-table cook, food and nutrition educator, and new farmer. Beyond her work in the local food system, Emilie has five years of diverse non-profit experience, managing projects, writing grants, and collaborating with various partners. Emilie lives on the banks of the mighty Kennebec in downtown Fairfield, and has been the MFFM SNAP Program Coordinator since Dec. 2015. She coordinates SNAP programming at farmers’ markets across the state, and administers the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (Maine Harvest Bucks) program at the markets.


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