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LA Region Farmland Access & Growing the Food Economy Conference

 

March, 2019

{Date & Location TBA}

 

 

Through this event, we are seeking to connect Farmland Seekers to Land Owners, and to build a Supportive Entrepreneurial Ecosystem for the growth of the Farm and Food Economy in the #LAMaine Region.

 

Photo courtesy of Whiting Farm, Auburn

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Somali-Bantu Community Association Harvest Celebration

About The Event

The Lewiston-Auburn (LA) Region has a historic opportunity to utilize abundant natural resources and springboard economic development in the Food and Farm business sector.   The LA Region is rooted in farming heritage and contains vast farmland with agricultural soils of state-wide significance. Across the state, entrepreneurs, farmers, manufacturing, culinary professionals, and the tourism industry have been growing the food economy in Maine, and we have the potential in our region to attract and retain people to “Grow it Here.” Many existing farm owners will be considering retirement in the next 5-10 years and much of this land will change hands. At the same time, the LA Region is home to many who are searching for land to farm.

 

Recognizing an opportunity for education and relationship-building around this historic opportunity and the abundance of options, the Good Food Council of Lewiston-Auburn — in cooperation with local, state, and regional partners — is organizing an LA Region Farmland Access & Growing the Food Economy Conference.

 

Who should attend?

  • Land Owners in the Lewiston-Auburn Region
  • Farmland Seekers
  • City/Town Officials & Staff
  • Economic and Community Development Professionals
  • Community Members interested in learning about the economic development value of the food and farm business and related tools

LFM

Photo Courtesy of Lewiston Farmers’ Market

Why hold this conference now?

  • Agriculture is one of the largest sectors bringing younger people to Maine, with 40% of farmers currently aged 34 or younger. In fact, the State of Maine is the only state in the nation to experience an increase in the number of young and beginning farmers – those who are seeking to “Grow It Here”.
  • The City of Auburn is currently considering changes to its Agriculture and Natural Resource Protection Zone, within which 40% of the city’s land mass – over 20,000 acres – is contained.
  • According to Maine Farmland Trust, less than 4% of Maine is prime agricultural soil. Of that, 1%  is already developed or in the process of being developed, and 1% is conserved. Those who believe in the future of growing local food in Maine are working to preserve the last 2%.
  • 400,000 acres of farmland in Maine are expected to change hands in the next 10 years, 400 million across the nation.
  • There are over 100 New American farmers in the Lewiston-Auburn region who are starting farms and/or are searching for farmland close to LA to lease or own.
  • According to Maine Farmland Trust, Maine has over 8,000 farms that produce $3.8 billion in sales and create 24,000 jobs statewide.
  • In 2014, the City of Portland won a federal manufacturing designation — just 1 of 12 awarded nationally — for food and agriculture, indicating a bright future for investment in food manufacturing infrastructure just 35 miles South.

Lewiston Maine Bens Burritos

Ben’s Burritos, Lewiston

Current Planning Team Members & Contributors:

  • Abby Suduckas, Land for Good
  • Alex Redfield, Cultivating Community
  • Eliza Madden, Food Corps at St. Mary’s Nutrition Center
  • Erica Buswell, Maine Farmland Trust
  • Ethan Miller, Wild Mountain Land Trust & Land in Common
  • Jonah Fertig-Burd, Good Food Council of Lewiston-Auburn & Cooperative Development Institute
  • Julia Harper, Good Food Council of Lewiston-Auburn
  • Kirsten Walter, Good Food Council of Lewiston-Auburn & St. Mary’s Nutrition Center
  • Kristina Kalolo, Somali-Bantu Community Association
  • Shelley Kruszewski, Good Food Council of Lewiston-Auburn & Androscoggin Land Trust

 

Would like to get involved in event planning?  Contact Julia at GoodFood4LA@gmail.com