Apr 192017

Webmaster’s Note:  The following article is reprinted with permission from an e-newsletter published by Paul Stearns, State Representative for District 119, reprinted with permission. 

Business Answers, a program of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, exists to assist new and prevailing businesses with start-up and expansion.  In conjunction with the online service, there is also a toll-free 800-line which you can call and get answers to all of your questions, including:

  • starting and operating a business;
  • State licensing requirements;
  • your business name;
  • becoming an employer;
  • being self-employed; and
  • so much more!

If the answer to your business question is immediately unknown, you will be referred to someone who can better help.  Through Business Answer’s One-Stop Business Licensing Center, information is available with respect to all of the State licenses your business is required to have.  Governor’s Account Executives are available to help with problems and concerns that arise as you work with other State agencies.

Questions about this service?  Please contact Business Answers toll-free telephone system at 1-800-872-3838 in Maine or 1-800-541-5872 outside Maine.  You also have the option of communicating via e-mail at businessdotanswersatmainedotgov  (businessdotanswersatmainedotgov)  .

Apr 182016

berries-1022839_640Know & Defend Your Rights. Transformational Conflict. Food Sovereignty.  How-To.

April 23rd, 10-4, Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast

with Heather Retberg, Bonnie Preston, and honored guests: Laila Johnson and Logan Perkins; and a panel of town organizers from communities across the state.

Join keynote speaker Laila Johnson, from Wisconsin, to share her knowledge  on transformational conflict and community self-governance.  Local lawyer extraordinaire, Logan Perkins, will help you learn more about the rights you’ve asserted under the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance and how to defend them as a community and as individuals.  Bonnie and Heather will pass on what they’ve learned about community self-governance, home rule, and state law so you’ll be prepared for the questions raised by your selectmen, city councilors, and your fellow citizens.  They and a panel of town organizers will share experiences, answer questions, and help you stand up for the ordinance if you have already passed it, allay fears if you have not yet passed it, and give you some experience confronting and working with an opponent.

Plan to come wherever you are in the process of protecting our traditional foodways: if you have passed the ordinance, if you are ready to work on it, if you are thinking about it, or if you are just curious about it.

This will be a bring-your-own-lunch event, but we will provide morning coffee and something to go with it, and dessert/afternoon snack, almost certainly involving chocolate.  Please let us know if you’re coming, so we can plan accordingly.  E-mail or call 374-3636.

Hope to see you there!  Bring friends, especially from nearby towns that may be helped by the ordinance. This will be a great opportunity to meet people who will be a support network as we all work to advance our food rights.

Apr 032016
Share your ideas with other Granges!

Share your ideas with other Granges!

Here’s a quick tip gleaned from a recent “Legislative Update” published by National Grange:

Bus Stop Farmers Markets

Following in the footsteps of food trucks, those mobile fast food stands parked along city streets at noon, mobile farm stands are beginning to show up in so-called “food deserts.” These low-income neighborhoods have plenty of quickie marts and liquor stores but lack full-service grocery stores with fruits, vegetables, and other fresh foods. These mobile markets show up at bus stops and transit stations in low-income neighborhoods with fresh goods typically at discounted prices.

Mar 212016

by Jim Annis, Legislative Director

Due to a lengthy debate on the minimum wage increase and the Maine State Grange Legislative Luncheon, the legislature adjourned last Thursday before voting on LD 783. Since this gives folks a second chance to contact their representatives with comments, another action alert has been issued. It contains both the text of the proposed referendum question and the proposed amendment and is available here: Call to action on LD 783 – II. The vote will likely happen this Tuesday.

Jan 212016

Farm Market Conv
MFFM’s annual farmers’ market convention will take place on Sunday, January 31st, at the Maple Hill Farm Inn and Convention Center in Hallowell (just outside of Augusta). This day-long convention will bring together market farmers, market managers, and others for a day of shop talk and networking. As usual, we’ll have breakout sessions all day on a variety of topics, including:

  • Food safety requirements for a safe and legal farmers’ market
  • Pricing: breaking even or making a profit?
  • Scaling up your FM business
  • Working with municipal governments – how to build good relationships
  • Developing (and enforcing) market rules
  • Effective outreach to low-income shoppers
  • Market promotion and outreach
  • Farmers’ markets in 2020 and beyond
  • Labor law and your FM business
  • Market manager roundtable discussion
  • What’s happening at your market? News from around the state

Register online or by emailing infoatmffmdotorg  (infoatmffmdotorg)  

Nov 272015

MFM ConventionMFFM’s annual farmers’ market convention will take place on Sunday, January 31st at the Maple Hill Farm Inn and Convention Center in Hallowell (just outside of Augusta). This day-long convention will bring together market farmers, market managers, and others for a day of shop talk and networking. As usual, we’ll have breakout sessions all day on a variety of topics, from marketing to funding to governance and more. See session details at mainefarmersmarkets.org. Registration opens in December.

Oct 202015

NewsThere’s an interesting poll accompanying this article, recently published in the Portland Press Herald! The poll question asks whether or not the reader has attended an event at a Grange Hall. When I checked it just a few minutes ago 64% said “yes,” 27% said “no,” and the remaining 9% indicated that they’d never heard of the Grange. As with most statistics, this poll might raise more questions than it answers.

The article itself appears well-researched but does contain a few minor inaccuracies–many Grangers will spot them quickly. But don’t be distracted by them, because the article does seem to be attempting to tell an objective story and does provide some interesting food for thought.

Click and read the comments, too… there will be some by people you know!



Jun 112015
Chaley receives a congratulatory hug from  Riverside Grange Member Alyssa Landry

Chaley receives a congratulatory hug from Riverside Grange Member Alyssa Landry

Chaley Machado, an active member of Riverside Grange #475 graduated on June 6, 2015 magna cum laude from Noble High School in North Berwick, ME. Chaley was born in Dartmouth, MA where she was a through and through “City Girl.” She moved to the Maine in 2008, a change that started her love of farm animals.  She then joined Riverside Grange #475 along with her mother, Christine Corliss. She was elected and installed as Lady Assistant Steward for the next three years and most recently has held the office of Flora.

Chaley has transitioned to a country girl and her love animals and agriculture has grown. As a valuable member of Riverside Grange she has worked on displays at agricultural fairs, played an elf during Breakfast with Santa, taken a day off from school to visit at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, planted gardens where excess vegetables were donated to local food pantry and attended many suppers and events.

Chaley currently lives on a small family farm with her Mom and Dad (Chris and Dan Corliss, also Grange Members) and helps tend all of the animal babies born each season.  Given her high energy level, Chaley also currently holds down a 30+ hours per week job at Burger King in Portsmouth, NH and a 30+ hours per week job at Dunkin Donuts in Somersworth, NH. Don’t tell her there’s no time for Grange!

Chaley will be attending the University of New Hampshire in the Fall to major in Animal Sciences.  Her goal is to become a large animal veterinarian, concentrating on bovine and swine versus equine animals.  According to Chaley, “We already have enough vets that focus on horses–what happened to the cows and pigs? Does everyone forget they exist?”  Chaley explains her personal philosophy, “If you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”

The members and friends from Riverside Grange #475 wish her the best of luck and remind her that Doctor Seuss says, “Today is your day! You are off to great places.”

Jun 062015

Webmaster’s Note:  This article is reposted from the June Issue of the Piscataquis & Penobscot Counties Farming Newsletter, published by UMaine Cooperative Extension. You can sign up to receive the newsletter through your email or view the archived issues anytime at  http://bit.ly/PPfarming. Note that this information also applies to food preparation.

Farmers Markets are a great way to connect with local consumers and tourists interested in buying local produce and value-added food products. Farmers, vendors, and consumers can do their part in making sure proper food handling practices are followed for a safe and enjoyable Farmers Market season.

Summer temperatures are enjoyable for us and bacteria (that may potentially cause food-borne illness) grow extremely well at these temperatures. Be aware that perishable foods (foods that need to be refrigerated) should not be left out in the hot sun on the market table or in a hot car. The temperature danger zone is 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If perishable foods are left at this temperature for over 2 hours, they should be thrown away because they are not safe to eat. Potentially harmful bacteria can grow rapidly in this temperature range. Perishable foods should be transported cold in a cooler on ice. Coolers and ice packs can be purchased locally at most stores and are inexpensive.

If you are giving away food samples, prepare them ahead of time in a sanitary manner (with clean utensils and clean hands) and be sure that any surface that touches food products is clean and sanitized. Samples can be placed in individual serving cups or packages, or they can be displayed under a dome or covered tray at the market. When appropriate, disposable utensils such as toothpicks, deli paper, plastic forks and spoons, and disposable cups must be provided for proper food handling of samples. If you are selling perishable items, rotate your food samples. Do not leave them out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. Keep these products on ice whenever possible.

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Quality Assurance and Regulations requires farmers and food vendors to obtain a Mobile Food Vendor’s License when fruits and vegetables are sliced, peeled, husked or processed in any way. Fruits and vegetables, when cut and processed, cannot be prepared in a home kitchen because they are at a higher risk for possible contamination of harmful bacteria and need to be prepared in a sanitary manner. Due to this higher risk, these perishable products need to be processed in a separate, commercial food processing area approved by the Maine Department of Agriculture for the processing of fruit and vegetable products, and requires a Commercial Food Processor’s License.

Baked goods, jams and jellies, and pickled foods can be processed safely in a home kitchen and would require a Home Food Processors License and a Mobile Food Vendor’s License if you are selling these products at the Farmers Markets. If you have questions regarding food licenses, please contact Steve Giguere at 287-3841 or e-mail stevedot giguereatmainedotgov  (stevedotgiguereatmainedotgov)  . Food license applications can be accessed at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources Web page: Licenses and Permit Forms.

Source: Calder, B., Farmers’ Market – Think Food Safety, http://umaine.edu/food-health/food-safety/farmers-market/ accessed June 2015. 

May 222015

by Debbie Rogers

Arlington1Arlington Grange #528 is at the top of Grand Army Hill on Rt. 126 in Whitefield. In February 1884, the members of Erskine Post #24 G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) began raising funds to build a memorial hall. The purpose of the hall would be a meeting place for the GAR, a free high school, and “contain a hall for a public library, public lectures, and other such amusements, which will be for their own intellectual advantage as well as the community at large”.

On Sept. 1, 1914 the first meeting of the Arlington Grange was held in the GAR building. It was decided at that time to name it the Arlington Grange in recognition of Fred Arlington Naray.

It has been an honor to work with the Grange these past two years, and we have new members joining regularly. In preparation for the events we will be hosting this summer, we have been busy cleaning and sorting items in the Grange. During a cleaning day, we discovered a box of “stuff” under the stairs. In the bottom, we found several old books (roll books and notes). To our utter surprise, one was the original minutes of the very first Grange meeting at the hall. Mary Jo Higgins (Tobin) was working as well. She was overjoyed to discover that her grandmother, Lizzy Tobin, was one of the very first officers of the Arlington Grange. The roll book was very enlightening with lists of members and their occupations. Barber, railroad employee, housekeepers, students, and milkmaid were some of the listed occupations.

Arlington2Charlie Miller has been a member of the Arlington Grange for over sixty years. He and his wife, Fran, who recently passed away, have been tireless workers for the Grange. When it came to a Grange supper, you could always be sure there would be one of Fran’s pies, if not more. Charlie remembers attending the meetings at the age of 5 or 6 with his parents, who would arrive in their Model T Ford, and he recalls falling asleep on the benches which are still there. “Behind the building was a covered shed for the horses. During the Second World War, the Civil defense came out and built a tower where volunteers came to spot for planes in case of an air raid.”

During our meeting on May 13th, Charlie told us that the walls on the main floor have blackboards under the paneling from the school that was there in the late 1800’s. He is such a wealth of information, and we so appreciate his presence at the Grange. Charlie remembered watching his father put down the hardwood floor in the upstairs meeting area. His father did much of the carpentry work around the building. That work continued with Charlie, who not only installed the fire escape and the lift chair on the stairs in the hall, but he regularly maintained the building.

The current members of the Grange, including Charlie and longtime members Gladys and Leo Glidden, invite you to join us for a celebration of 100 years of community service and fellowship. We are also celebrating “Farming” in our area. The Grange is, after all, an agricultural-based group with deep roots in the farming community.

Arlington3On Sunday, June 7th , from 1-4 pm, we will be having an Open House celebration. During that time, we will have local farmers and organizations there with products, information, and demonstrations. Flintlock Forge will be there with Jeff Miller demonstrating Black Smithing. Also in attendance will be Sheepscot General, Narrow Gauge Farm (which will be bringing 3 baby lambs), Crooked Door Farm, Thirty Acre Farm, Tim’s Sugar Shack, Hidden Valley Farm, Treble Ridge Farm, Whitefield Trails, MOFGA, Sheepscot Valley Conservation Assoc., Whitefield Historical Society, and many others. We will be conducting tours of the Grange and serving free refreshments. There will also be a white elephant table in support of the Grange.

So, come visit the historic Grange and our wonderful farmers and organizations in our local area!! We are so lucky that 100 years later we can celebrate an ongoing success story of the agricultural community of Whitefield and its neighbors!