STONINGTON, Maine — The folks at Penobscot East Resource Center are gearing up for the second season of their Community Supported Fishery program that provides the opportunity for subscribers to purchase fresh shrimp every week directly from the fishermen.
Starting the weekend of Jan. 15, subscribers will be able to purchase fresh-off-the-dock shrimp supplied by community fishermen.
The program started last year and follows the model created by Community Supported Agriculture. Customers commit upfront to purchase a full or half share of whole, unpicked shrimp. Shrimp are delivered by the fishermen every week for 10 weeks.
The program began with a twofold mission, according to Veronica Young, associate director of Penobscot East.
“This helps to create a winter market for the fishermen,” Young said Tuesday, “and it helps to get people in the habit of buying directly from the fishermen.”
The CSF program was popular last year, she said. In 2009, PERC sold about 6,000 pounds of shrimp to about 120 subscribers. Young said they hope to expand the program this year.
“We’re aiming for 300 subscribers this year, and we’re hoping to sell 17,000 pounds of shrimp,” she said. “Our subscribers are very enthusiastic about the program.”
The program has added more fishermen this year. According to Ricky Trundy, of Deer Isle, there are five boats out of Stonington and at least two fishermen from Mount Desert Island who will participate in the program this year.
“The biggest advantage for me is that it’s cutting out the middle man,” Trundy said Tuesday. “We’re going direct from the boat to the customer and we kind of split the difference. We can give the customer a break and still get a halfway decent margin for the boat price.”
Trundy said he was initially skeptical about the program and admitted that last year was a startup year that didn’t generate a whole lot of business for him.
“We were still getting our feet wet,” he said. “But as we get going on it, get the word out and generate some more interest, I think it has the potential to go somewhere.”
Depending on how the season goes, there may be some interest in expanding the program to include picked shrimp, Trundy said, although that would involve finding someone to process the shrimp for them.
Young said that PERC also is considering further expanding the program to other geographic areas, and also is investigating the possibility of developing a CSF for groundfish.
In order to make the pickups easier this year, Penobscot East has expanded the number of pickup sites. Beginning the weekend of Jan. 15, subscribers will be able to pick up orders of shrimp at the following locations: Sassafrass Catering, Town Hill, 5-6 p.m. Fridays; Congregational church, Main Street, Blue Hill, 11 a.m.-noon Saturdays; Old Elementary School, School Street, Stonington, 9-10 a.m. Saturdays, and The Maine Grind, Main Street, Ellsworth, 5-6 p.m. Fridays.
Subscribers will need to sign up and pay for their shares prior to Jan. 15. A full share, 10 pounds of shrimp each week, costs $175. A half-share, 5 pounds a week, costs $87.50.
Penobscot East is seeking volunteers to help out at all locations. Anyone interested in volunteering may contact Holly Eaton or Bobbi Billings at 367-2708 or at email@example.com with full contact information.