Happy New Year! And a reflection on Merrymeeting Food Council's first 2 years...

Here is a look at some of the things we have been up to in our first 2 years:

Structure and Funding:

  • established a diverse and engaged Steering Committee which: developed framing documents, guides and supports all MFC work, is seeking sustainable funding, is finalizing a set of core goals and metrics by which we can measure progress toward our goals, and serves as a key point of connection with multiple communities

  • developed an online presence (Facebook and website) with ties to local, regional and statewide food system representatives and organizations

  • established 2 active work groups (Processing and Food Security) and 2 engaged advisory groups (Seafood and Farm) with plans to continue expanding our number of active work groups

  • received over $19,000 in primarily grant funds, almost half of which have been used for purchasing project supplies including a cold storage trailer for gleaned produce

  • received more than $116,000 of in-kind contributions through staff time from partner organizations and volunteer time

Outreach and Network Development:

  • established partnerships with diverse stakeholders: non-profits and for-profits, health care organizations, municipal organizations, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, and fishermen, farmers, processors, Maine food councils, and others who have supported and guided our development as a food council

  • active participant in Maine Network of Community Food Councils (MNCFC)

    • presenter at 2 MNCFC Annual Summits

    • working with MNCFC and other food system groups like Maine Food Strategy to plan for coordinated collection of key metrics statewide which would facilitate identification of practices or changes effective at moving key food system levers

  • active participant in the Maine Gleaning Network

  • presenter at first two annual Local Food, Local Hunger forums hosted by Morris Farm and Chewonki

  • advised four student summer fellows through both the Environmental Fellowship Program at Bowdoin College and the McKeen Center for Common Good

  • working with partner organizations to supervise an intern from the Muskie School of Public Policy at USM and a Goodwill AmeriCorps VISTA fellow

  • developed relationship with Master Gardener program and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension

  • supporter of Maine Innovation Challenge which led to the opening of New Beet Market and other area businesses

  • supported bulk purchasing option for Bristol Bay salmon in partnership with Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association and New Beet Market

  • promote partner events and achievements through social media

Projects:

  • Educational Resources:

    • developed Edible Main Street Toolkit available for any community interested in building community sidewalk gardens, email for more information

    • developed informational resources about top groundfish species landed in Maine and their fate once landed, email for more information

    • developed information cards about frequently gleaned produce with preparation instructions and recipes to be distributed with produce to recipient organizations , email for more information

    • developed diagram detailing the processing pathways for food within our local system

  • Needs Assessment of the Harpswell Fishing Community:

    • a three-phase project of the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association and the Seafood Advisory Group

    • the project will identify gaps, concerns, and fisheries successes brought forward by the fishing community

      • Phase I focused on the findings from the groundfish and shellfish fisheries as well as several town personnel

      • Phase II focused on aquaculture, the bait industry, lobster, and recreational fisheries

      • Phase III reconnected with interviews and infrastructure from Phases I and II

  • Merrymeeting Gleaners: a highly successful gleaning project, which has led to over 36,000 lbs of fresh local produce being gleaned and distributed (that's over 18 tons of healthy locally produced food and over 30,000 meals!)

    • built a database of more than100 volunteers who have contributed over 3,000 hours of their time in 2017 alone, a contribution worth more than $58,000

    • work with a growing number of farms, three in 2017: Six River Farm (Bowdoinham), Scatter Good Farm (Brunswick), and Goranson Farm (Dresden)

    • glean from several additional farmers at the Bath and Brunswick Farmer's Markets as well as pop-up gleans at numerous sites

    • established 21 sites for donations of gleaned produce, serving 7 towns

    • created data tracking system for the Merrymeeting Gleaners

    • created criteria and forms for recipient organizations

    • advise and share resources with gleaning groups statewide

    • plan to continue expanding both gleaning and distribution sites until all 14 towns in our service area are served