Q: What is your job title and location?
A: I am a Community Education Assistant for Androscoggin and Sagadahoc Counties and I work out of the University of Maine Extension office in Lisbon
Q: For you personally, or for your work, how do you interact with the local food system?
A: I interact in the food system in several ways.
ersonally I am a big advocate for buy local and always have at least one Farm Share or CSA program that my family participates in. I have in the past been on the founding board for a community garden in Cape Elizabeth. I also compost with Garbage to Garden and volunteer as a Master Gardener Volunteer with the Independence Association in Brunswick. I became a Master Gardener Volunteer in Cumberland County in 2012.
Professionally, I work as a CEA and Master Gardener Coordinator for two counties. Both counties have gleaning programs. The UMaine Extension is focused on the Maine Food System and in my work coordinating Social Media for them I actively educate and promote the Maine Food system.
Q: For you personally, or for your work, what do you see as some strengths of our local food system? Weaknesses?
A: My experience in retail buying for supermarket chains exposed me to the unique challenges of Maine and Northern New England. We have a short season (though it is getting longer through technology and climate change) and we are the end of the line for food from the major growing areas of the country. Our strength is in our ability to grow locally and still be relatively competitive. Our weakness is in the lack of consistent availability throughout the state and the seasons.
Q: What are the most important things that should be happening in the region to support increased production, consumption, and access to local foods?
A: We need to make it easier for producers to bring product to market. We need regulation and food safety, but we also need to be able to make these things work with the producers, not against them. We need to celebrate the "Small". We do not have a lot of "Big Ag" like the midwest but we also don't always realize how many little farms are out there. Better PR for these pioneers in the food system. The Maine Craft Beer movemen has made the world aware of our awesome producers...we need some of that spotlight on the other producers in this state.
Q: What's for dinner tonight?
A: Not sure...working later than I thought so it might be leftover Tuscan Bean Stew (made with beans from Fairwinds Farm in Topsham).