Apr 142017
 

karen-gagne-webBy Karen Hatch Gagne, Director

March was a challenging month as winter was clearly still here in Maine.  The snow is finally melting and we have had some delightfully warm weather these past few days.  Time to be getting ready for gardens (I still have snow on my garden though).  The Agricultural Committee was busy gathering Maine-made items for our scholarship basket and preparing for the agricultural luncheon for the State Legislators.  Special thanks to Agnes and Bob for heading up the food preparation, Sharon and Jim for purchasing what was not donated.  A special thank you to those who donated food for this annual event: UMaine/High Moor Farms donated apples; Maine Blueberry Commission donated placemats, magnets and Wyman’s blueberries; and the True North Salmon Company donated the salmon.

Thank you to all state officers and directors who made and delivered fudge for our statehouse table and pies for the agricultural luncheon.  A special thanks to Chef Heidi Parent, Director of the Culinary Arts Department for the Capital Area Technical Center and her students from the culinary program as they prepared all the salmon for lunch.

Currently, I am completing a score sheet for State Grange Educational Exhibits and will be contacting Grange members who have been willing to judge our Grange Exhibits at our Maine Agriculture Fairs.  The Agricultural Committee will be judging Agricultural Scholarships next month and gearing up for High School graduation and celebrating our scholarship recipients.

The Maine Agricultural Fair Season will be upon us soon, I encourage our Granges to plan to set up one Grange Exhibit at your local Agricultural Fair.  Let’s make our presence visible in our communities.  If you are unsure how to make the connection with your local fair you can look online or call me and I am very willing to assist you through this process.

The Agricultural Committee is also working on providing an agricultural luncheon and speaker during our State Grange Convention in October.  There will be more to come in the near future.

I welcome any questions or suggestions!  Call me at 207-592-6980, email Karendothdotgagneatmainedotedu  (Karendothdotgagneatmainedotedu)   or text me.

Apr 042017
 

Public Hearings have been scheduled for two bills supported by Maine State Grange Resolutions passed in 2015 and 2016:

The public hearing for LD 725 will be on April 10, Monday, at 10 am in Room 214 of the Cross Office Building (right across from state house). LD 725 is An Act To Recognize Local Control Regarding Food and Water Systems.

The public hearing for LD 835 An Act to Promote Small Diversified Farms and Small Food Producers will be the same week on April 13th, Thursday, at 1 pm also in Room 214 of Cross Office Building.

Grangers who would like their voices heard are encouraged to attend these hearings and offer testimony! For additional information and assistance, you may contact Heather Retberg  (quillsendfarmatgmaildotcom)  , Master of Halcyon Grange.

Mar 192017
 

Betsy Huber, National Grange Master

Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Master Betsy will arrive from Massachusetts.

  • Event: Legislative Luncheon at 12:00 p.m. at Maine State Grange Headquarters. Legislators are invited.
  • Event: Androscoggin Pomona Meeting.  There will be a 6:30 p.m. $5.00 supper with a 7:30 p.m. meeting.  Members of Oxford and Cumberland Pomona have been invited to attend as well.  The meeting will be held at Danville Junction Grange.

Thursday, April 6, 2017
Master Betsy will travel north and be available for media interviews in the Bangor area.

  • Event: Piscataquis Pomona Potluck Supper at 6:00 p.m. and Meeting at 7:00 p.m. Meeting is being hosted by Valley Grange, 172 Guilford Center Road, Guilford. The public is invited. Click for more information about this event.

Friday, April 7, 2017
Master Betsy will be available for media interviews in the Augusta area.

  • Event: Potluck supper will be held at 5:00 p.m. at Maine State Grange Headquarters. A Grange “town hall forum” will be held from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. and include questions and answers as well as discussion of ideas and challenges facing the Grange at the national and local levels. The public is invited.

Saturday, April 8, 2017
Master Betsy spends the day at Maine State Grange Headquarters

  • Event: Morning reception from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. at Maine State Grange Headquarters. Officers, Deputies, and Directors are invited.
  • Event: Junior Grange sponsored contests from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
  • Event: Lincoln Pomona Potluck Supper at 6:30 p.m. and Meeting at 7:30 p.m. Meeting is being hosted by Meenahga Grange, 860 Main Street, Waldoboro. The public is invited.

Maine State Grange Headquarters is located at
146 State Street
Augusta, Maine

Media Inquiries should be directed to

Walter Boomsma  (webmasteratmainestategrangedotorg)  , Maine State Grange Communications Director
207 343-1842

Amanda Leigh Brozana  (communicationsatnationalgrangedotorg)  , National Grange Communications Director
(202) 628-3507 • ext 102

Mar 182017
 

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. 

The Maine Legislative Memorial Scholarship Fund was created by the Maine Legislature to annually recognize one student from each county who is currently pursuing or is planning to pursue their education at a two-year or four-year degree-granting Maine college or technical school.  This scholarship is available for full or part-time students.  An eligible recipient must be a Maine resident who is accepted to or enrolled in a two- or four-year degree-granting Maine college or technical school that is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Awards are made on the basis of academic excellence, contributions to community and employment, financial need, letters of recommendation, and an essay of 300 words or less from the applicant that explains his or her educational goals and intentions.

All application components must be submitted and postmarked by May 1, 2017, to the following address:  Finance Authority of Maine (FAME), Attn:  Maine Legislative Memorial Scholarship, P.O. Box 949, Augusta, ME 04332-0949.

Awards will be made directly to the applicant after successful completion of the first semester of school.  The Maine Legislative Memorial Scholarship Committee will announce scholarship winners for the 2016 applicants in the spring of 2017.  Scholarships may be deferred for one year if this is to the student’s financial advantage.

All funds for the Scholarship have been raised through an annual auction held in Augusta.  Legislators, staff, and lobbyists participate in the event by soliciting and making donations, organizing, and even “auctioneering”.  Hundreds of items are donated, many of them “made in Maine”, such as sardines, paintings, and weekend get-a-ways.  The auctions have been a tremendous success, making it possible for 16 students to receive as much as a $1,000 award.

For more information on this scholarship program, please click here.

Mar 162017
 

karen-gagne-webBy Karen Gagne, Director

We are all looking forward to spring and spring-like weather and the thoughts of green grass and rich soil. Looking at seed catalogs, ordering seeds and planning my garden is giving me hope as the wind blows and the snow keeps on coming.

The Ag Committee is gearing up for the Legislative Luncheon on April 5, 2017, talking with our state legislators and also promoting agriculture. We are in need of everyone’s help for this event. We are looking for fudge which will be on our display booth and would love to have more donated Maine made items to add to our basket we will be raffling off at the State Grange Convention in October.  The money raised from this basket goes toward Ag Scholarships for Maine youth.

If you are willing to make fudge or donate Maine made items for the basket and need transportation for these items to get to Augusta for April 5, 2017, please contact me and I will make sure we secure transportation for you.  My number is 207-592-6980 or email Karendothdotgagneatmainedotedu  (Karendothdotgagneatmainedotedu)  .

Maine Ag in the Classroom is always looking for volunteers to read Maine Ag books in schools during the month of March. (I have committed to reading to 5 classrooms.) If anyone might be interested let me know and I will connect you with Willie Grenier who coordinates this delightful way of engaging children in learning about agriculture in Maine. This year’s book focuses on gardens.

I have not heard from any Granges at this time but am still interested in connecting with Granges who may be interested in exhibiting an Educational display at your local Agricultural Fair. Many of the fairs have expressed great delight in having more grange displays but they need to know in advance that you plan to have a display. Let me know if you are thinking about setting up an educational display this year.  Let’s get the Grange displays front and center at our local Agricultural Fairs.

Happy Spring to one and all!

Mar 092017
 

Annisby Jim Annis, Legislative Director

Did everybody enjoy the holiday season? I hope so because now it’s time to get to work and start writing resolutions. After all, the way the year is flying by, October will be here before we know it!

Valley Grange has written a resolution which has been voted on and approved by Valley and, most recently, by Piscataquis Pomona. And it goes like this:

Seating arrangement of Maine State Legislature

Whereas, much animosity currently exists in the Maine State Legislature, and,

Whereas, this animosity affects the ability of our legislators to govern the people of Maine, and,

Whereas, the seating arrangement presently used in both houses of our government places members of each party together on opposite sides of the “aisle,” and,

Whereas, this seating arrangement serves to separate people based on their respective political parties,

Be it resolved, that the Maine State Grange recommends that further legislatures be seated alphabetically in the hopes that this arrangement will enhance communication among individual members and provide an understanding of different points of view.

So, let’s get busy Grangers and flood the Maine State Grange with resolutions! Hurry, before it’s too late!

Currently, there’s a bill before the Legislature called An Act to Recognize Local Control Regarding Food and Water Systems. The bill number Is LD 725 if you want to check it out. It wants to allow local control over regulating local foods systems and their transport. We’ll have to keep an eye on it.

On another note, a resolution submitted by Cumberland Pomona was sent to the Maine Legislature for approval. If you want to check it out, go to Maine. Gov, click on Legislature and type in under LD 623. The title is An Act to Require Biennial State Motor Vehicle Inspections and is scheduled to be heard by the Committee on Transportation on March 17th at 9:00 AM in room 126.

Mar 082017
 

Betsy Huber, National Grange Master

by Rick Grotton
Maine State Grange Master

Our National Master, Betsy Huber, will be visiting Maine April 5, 2017, through April 8, 2017. She will be attending our Legislative Luncheon on April 5 and wishes to meet with as many Maine Grangers as possible during her visit to answer questions and listen to your ideas. We will be attending Grange meetings on Thursday and Friday (April 6 and 7). Please come to State Headquarters at 146 State Street in Augusta on Saturday, April 8 to visit. She will be attending the Junior sponsored contests that day beginning at 11:00 a.m. for the Public Speaking and Alphabet Signing (Juniors only) followed by the Assistant and Lady Assistant contest (for all Grangers). This will be a perfect opportunity to come support our Junior Program and to meet our first woman National Master! She has some great ideas and has been very busy but she is trying to visit all Grange states. If you want to come down on Thursday or Friday during the day to visit please let me know ahead of time. Let’s be Doers and show our National Master how proud we are as Grangers!

Feb 142017
 

karen-gagne-webBy Karen Gagne, Director

The Maine State Grange Agricultural Committee was busy at the Maine Ag Trade Show booth. There was a lot of activity and young people asking for support, resources and possibly starting a Grange! We raffled off a Valentine Basket to support the Grange Ag Scholarship and made $64.00 toward the scholarship.

I attended the Maine Fair Association Annual meeting in Portland and met with the Exhibition Hall Superintendents. All Maine Agricultural fairs in attendance were interested and willing to have Granges set up an educational exhibit at their fair provided they are informed. The Fair Exhibition Hall Superintendents asked that the Granges contact their local fair if they would like to set up an educational exhibit.  If you need the contact names and are unable to go onto the web to locate the contact for the fair call me (592-6980) and I will get the name for you.  Criteria will be available soon.

The Maine State Grange Scholarship and Farm Family Award criteria and application have been edited and will be posted shortly.

Note: The date for the Ag luncheon for Legislators has been changed to April 5, 2017. We will be looking for fudge for the day and pies for the luncheon.  Sharon will be working on donations of food for the luncheon. Agnes and Bob will head up the lunch preparation with the Ag Committee and arranging to have a group serve lunch. We are still looking for donations of Maine made items for the AG Scholarship basket. Rance will be selling raffles at the luncheon.

The Ag Committee will be working on setting up an Ag Luncheon at the Maine State Grange Convention in Skowhegan along with a speaker.  I will have more information to follow.

Next meeting of the Maine State Grange Agricultural committee will be reading the Ag Scholarships on May 9, 2017,  beginning at 10:00 A.M.  This will be a potluck luncheon at the State Grange Headquarters.

 

Feb 102017
 

Falls Church, VA—February 2, 2017—The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) is proud to announce that Maine farmer Heather Retberg is the winner of the second annual Gravel Road Gang Activism Award, an honor recognizing FTCLDF members for success in working on food freedom legislation and initiatives. Heather is a farming mother, the lead organizer and advocate for Local Food RULES, a board member for Food for Maine’s Future, and is working with her local grange, the Halcyon Grange #345 in North Blue Hill to rebuild food and farming infrastructure while maintaining legal space for traditional food exchanges. Retberg and her husband Phil own and operate Quill’s End Farm in Penobscot, producing raw milk, meat, and eggs. Utah farmers Symbria and Sara Patterson were the winners of the inaugural Gravel Road Gang Award in 2016.

The award is named in honor of Donna Betts, a longtime farmer and activist in southeastern Ohio. Betts has been a walking history of farming and farm politics in Ohio since World War II. A longtime advocate of measures favoring small farmers and local food production, Betts has not been afraid to take on the government. She was a successful litigant in an eight-year court battle with the Ohio Department of Agriculture over her right to sell raw pet milk, a case in which she recovered attorneys’ fees from the Department. The Gravel Road Gang is Betts’ name for a group of women that have been meeting in her area the past 16 years to discuss farming, activism, and other matters of the day.

Retberg has been instrumental in the passage of the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance (LFCSGO) in 18 Maine towns. Under the LFCSGO, farmers and other local food producers can sell their products direct-to-consumers within the ordinance town’s borders without licensing or inspection. Along with her husband Phil, farmer Deborah Evans, farmer Bob St Peter, and Larissa Curlik, Retberg drafted the ordinance in 2010, and in 2011 five towns including Penobscot became the first to adopt the ordinance. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) subsequently challenged the ordinance by filing suit against dairy farmer Dan Brown, claiming he was violating state law by selling raw milk and canned goods from his farmstand in the ordinance town of Blue Hill without a state license. The case went all the way to the Maine Supreme Court, which did not strike down the ordinance but did rule against Brown. The Court avoided preempting the LFCSGO, choosing to interpret the language “narrowly” to exempt farmers and food producers only from municipal licensing and inspection. While the case was making its way through the courts, the Maine legislature passed a bill requiring DACF to support policies that through local control preserve the ability of communities to produce, process, sell, purchase, and consume locally produced foods. The 2014 state Supreme Court decision has not slowed the LFCSGO’s momentum; since the court’s ruling, seven towns have adopted the ordinance.

Retberg is the lead organizer advocate of Local Food Rules, a non-profit organization whose mission is to encourage the passage of local food ordinances in Maine. She has traveled around the state since 2011 supporting and assisting the efforts of local leaders as their own towns consider its passage. She is currently working with local organizers toward passage of the ordinance in Rockland, which would mark the first time a city has adopted the LFCSGO. FTCLDF has provided financial support for her travel expenses and many hours spent the past three years working to increase the number of ordinance-protected towns.

On the state level, Retberg has worked successfully on scale-appropriate regulation for on-farm poultry processing and has been part of several attempts to adopt the LFCSGO statewide. In 2016, a constitutional right to food amendment that would have enshrined a right to food of our choosing and food freedom in Maine’s constitution, passed in the Maine House of Representatives but died in the Senate. Retberg helped draft the amendment. In addition, she worked closely with legislator allies on four other bills that same session approaching food sovereignty, food self-sufficiency, and food freedom from different tacks.

In the 2017 legislative session, Retberg will be working to support more people in rural communities who aim to help their town adopt the LFCSGO on the local level. At the state level, she is working primarily on two bills: another effort to adopt the ordinance on a statewide basis as well as a measure toward state recognition of food sovereignty, effectively addressing the threat of state preemption to local control of community food and water systems. Towns and counties in other states have passed food sovereignty ordinances, but when it comes to the number of towns and the strength of the ordinance language, Maine is still ahead of the curve. Retberg has been a leader from the beginning.

FTCLDF works with its members at the federal, state, and local levels on legislation and other initiatives to promote food freedom of choice; we welcome those working on or wanting to work on food freedom bills or similar measures.

Feb 012017
 

Webmaster’s note: Reprinted from a recent issue of Woods Wise Wire, published by the Maine Department of Agriculture after noticing some of these species are being offered in the catalogs that are starting to arrive in our mailboxes!


AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) has adopted rules to prohibit the sale and distribution of thirty-three terrestrial plants that were deemed invasive. The plants were reviewed by a specially-convened committee of horticulture professionals, land managers, foresters, wildlife biologists and other scientists. The new rule went into effect on January 14, 2017, but the prohibition of sales does not begin until January 1, 2018.

“The plants on this list have invaded farms, fields, forests and wetlands throughout the state,” said Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “Although many were originally promoted with good intentions, such as, the prevention of soil erosion or to support wildlife, they have spread throughout Maine to the detriment of native species. In many places they have come to dominate forests, wetlands, fields and local landscapes, excluding native plants that support our economy and natural areas.”

“The Maine Forest Service, Public Lands and the Natural Areas Program have joined with the Bureau of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources to locate and eradicate invasive plant and animal species,’ said Doug Denico, Maine State Forester. “The Public Lands are a major focus of current efforts, with education of the public also a critical undertaking in order to extend the department’s statewide effectiveness.” 

“All but three of the prohibited plants have been, or continue to be sold in the nursery trade, said Gary Fish, Maine State Horticulturist. “Some of them have already been discontinued by nurseries which recognized their harmful potential. Three are not intentionally sold, but are “horticultural hitchhikers” which sprout as weeds in the pots and rootballs of plants sold in the nursery trade. A few of the plants are still in some demand, including Japanese barberry, burning bush, privet and Norway maple, especially the crimson king variety. Maine nurseries and garden centers will have until January 1, 2018, to sell stock already on hand.”

Many non-invasive alternatives are available to help homeowners and nursery professionals satisfy their landscape needs without using the invasive plants on the list.  

A copy of the rules and the plant list are found on the DACF website at:
http://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/horticulture/invasiveplants.shtml

There is also a list of resources to help find alternative plants at: www.maine.gov/dacf/php/horticulture/invasiveplants.shtml#Alternatives

To identify and control invasive plants, the Department maintains plant fact sheets and a gallery of photos and management tips at:  http://www.maine.gov/dacf/mnap/features/invasive_plants/invasives.htm