What began as an Agricultural Networking Meeting on Nov. 13 evolved into a brainstorming session on ways to bring a farmer's market to the Piscataquis region.
Representatives from several agencies met with farmers at the Piscataquis County Extension Office to explain ways each could assist local farms. Donna Lamb spoke about the many educational programs offered by the County Extension Office. Albert Dow and Leslie Nelson represented the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Jennifer Zweig spoke on behalf of Farm Services Agency. Sheila Grant discussed the programs of the Piscataquis County Soil & Water Conservation District.
Funding sources, as well as technical and educational supports for local farmers, were discussed. Also attending the meeting was Mark Scarano, business development director for the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council. After all of the agency representatives had spoken, discussion turned to ways farmers could increase income.
The questions and suggestions of the farm owners soon led to a shared wish for a local farmer's market. This would not be your basic vegetable stand, the group said. They wanted indoor space for a co-op health food type store and delicatessen as well as outdoor space to sell products, crafts and art work. Suggestions included demonstrations of crafts during production and space where visitors could get a closer look at live animals.
Before such an enterprise can become a reality, much more planning will be required. Scarano and Lamb have offered to write a planning grant for the group. The application deadline is Dec. 9. All interested farmers, potential customers and other partners are invited to attend the next brainstorming/grant writing session at the Piscataquis County Extension Office at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 4. For more information, please call Donna Lamb at 564-3301 or Mark Scarano at 1-800-539-0332.
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