Abigail Curtis

Homestead Reporter

Middle School students get their lunch at the school cafeteria at Regional School Unit 3 in Thorndike. The school district collaborates with several area farms to source about 40 percent of the school's cafeteria food locally.

Maine schools resist national plan to relax healthy lunch guidelines by serving fresh, local foods

By Abigail Curtis on May 24, 2017, at 6 a.m.
“Our mission is to provide students with a nutritious meal that they can choose in order to help them with academic success. That’s our only mission.”
A Maine farmer inspects a crop of peas.

Pesticide bill rejected by Legislative panel

By Abigail Curtis on May 23, 2017, at 9:56 a.m.
A legislative committee unanimously voted against a controversial pesticide bill that would have removed the ability for municipalities to enact pesticide regulations that are stricter than the state’s.
Rain collects in a puddle in Bangor.

Wet spring poses challenges for farmers

By Abigail Curtis on May 18, 2017, at 1:18 a.m.
Unusually wet conditions and cold temperatures in the first half of May pose issues for Maine farmers who can’t seem to catch a break from a fickle Mother Nature.
University of Maine students Elizabeth Daman, left, and Isaac Mazzeo, work at the Orono Community Garden on Saturday morning. "I love the garden project," Mazzeo said.

How community gardens are helping lower-income Mainers

By Abigail Curtis on May 16, 2017, at 11:57 a.m.
“They’re developing a relationship with their food. The garden is alive and full of living things, and people are getting to know the garden. It’s an act of engagement.”
Impact of late blight disease on rows of conventional potatoes (left) and Innate™ Gen 2 potatoes (right) in Michigan as seen in this Nov 2015 photo.

Genetically engineered potatoes approved for Maine

By Abigail Curtis on May 13, 2017, at 7:59 a.m.
These potatoes were created by adding genes from a wild potato plant and are designed to be resistant to late blight, the disease that caused the mid-19th century Irish Potato Famine.
Permaculture design students work on a project together.

‘Feral’ island in Penobscot Bay will serve as living laboratory

By Abigail Curtis on May 10, 2017, at 9:06 a.m.
“I think of it as a feral, or rewilded landscape. We can look at what’s emerging, and work at what’s there to make it more productive.”
Tim Semler (red-checked shirt) and Katherine Perkins, who play music with the Brooksville-based Soulbenders, wait for their performance to begin on Friday, April 29, 2017 at the Halcyon Grange. "The grange is very wonderful and very important," Semler said. "People need places to get together."

Maine’s granges are making a comeback

By Abigail Curtis on May 06, 2017, at 7:33 a.m.
“We have to get together and dance and eat pie and support each other this way. We go forward, but we look back to what makes sense.”
Cathe Morrill, owner of State of Maine Cheese Factory in Rockport.

How Maine’s cheesemakers are keeping food safety a top priority

By Abigail Curtis on May 02, 2017, at 6:11 a.m.
“There are a hundred ways you should be double-checking everything.”
Mary Leaming sits in the front of her tiny home that is nearly complete. Leaming said she had relatively difficult time to secure a small loan to pay for a parcel of land in Unity and an Amish-built tiny house. She finally was able to get financing through a credit union and now her new home is nearly complete.

How some Mainers are financing tiny houses and off-grid dreams

By Abigail Curtis on April 29, 2017, at 8:29 a.m.
The country’s love of unconventional houses is not always shared by its bankers, who have a well-earned reputation for having a deep preference for financing conventional homes. But that may be starting to change in Maine.
Maine Farmland Trust's popular Maine Fare event is returning after a yearlong break in the form of a monthlong series of hands-on field trips and workshops and not a two-day festival.

Maine Fare reboot to include animal butchery, cider-making workshops

By Abigail Curtis on April 22, 2017, at 8:41 a.m.
A year after the popular Maine Fare festival was put on ice, it’s being revived and rebooted by its organizers at the Maine Farmland Trust.
The Homeport Inn, a historic sea captain's house in Searsport, has a storied past.

Searsport sea captain’s ornate home for sale, ghosts included

By Abigail Curtis on April 20, 2017, at 6:56 a.m.
“Every night, about 2 in the morning, [my dog] Coop would start growling,” the property’s previous owner said. “He’d just growl until he started full-out barking. It just struck me as really odd that he would do that. It’s just really weird.”
Melinda Hellum, head chef at Waldo County General Hospital, looks to Robert Coombs, kitchen supervisor at Waldo County General Hospital, while peeling a bag of fresh beets at the Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast. The kitchen staff at the hospital is working to bring the locavore, farm-to-table movement to an unusual place: the hospital cafeteria.

Maine hospitals are bringing farm-to-table to patients

By Abigail Curtis on April 17, 2017, at 11:57 a.m.
“Hospitals should be role models. We started seeking out farmers and training our cooks to use local foods.”
Krystin Noyes works on a watercolor paining below decks while her dog, Cirroc, roams around outside in Portland. Noyes spent the winter on the 36-foot boat at Dimillo's Marina with the dog, a cat and her boyfriend, Nate Taylor.

Liveaboard life a draw for some hardy Mainers

By Abigail Curtis on April 15, 2017, at 6:30 a.m.
“We’re not going back to land,” she said. “We want to encourage other people to be boat people, too.”

Lawmaker still wants to regulate foraging but drops support for wild picker law

By Abigail Curtis on April 12, 2017, at 1 a.m.
Sen. Tom Saviello said that after reviewing state laws already on the books and learning that such harvesting already is largely prohibited, he decided that there is no need for another law.
Acorns ready to be made into flour are seen in Belfast on Thursday. The group expects to make around 20 pounds of acorn flour when they are done.

Bumper crop leads to acorn flour production for Belfast friends

By Abigail Curtis on April 10, 2017, at 1 a.m.
“I love everything that has to do with wild edibles and eating off the land. It feels like it’s timeless, like something that would have happened 10,000 years ago.”
A glass of water is seen during the taste testing at the Maine Rural Water Association's 34th Annual Water and Wastewater Technical Conference at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, Dec. 11, 2014.

Maine’s wells could be polluted with arsenic, lead

By Abigail Curtis on April 05, 2017, at 6:01 a.m.
“The major problem is that Maine has a high reliance on wells, but very few people test their wells.”
Fedco employees pack seed potatoes at the company's warehouse in Clinton Wednesday. The Maine-based cooperative sells a wide variety of seeds, bulbs, trees and soil amendments and it is owned by its employees and customers.

As more Mainers covet local food, a longtime seed seller grows

By Abigail Curtis on April 04, 2017, at 6:22 a.m.
This Maine company has mailed out roughly 24 million seed packets since the 1970s.
The Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District held a fruit tree pruning workshop at the Tudor Farm in Dover-Foxcroft, March 2016.

Early spring is still the right time to prune fruit trees

By Abigail Curtis on April 02, 2017, at 1:19 p.m.
It’s still a good time to prune fruit trees, but people should try to finish up pruning their apples and pears before they break bud,” Renae Moran said, adding that stone fruit trees such as plums, peaches and cherries can be pruned anytime in the month of April. “In my opinion, pruning is good for the tree.”
Fiddleheads grow in Stillwater, Maine

Foragers, landowners at odds in proposed wild picker law

By Abigail Curtis on March 29, 2017, at 12:50 p.m.
Opponents and supporters of a proposed law that would put restrictions on foraging on private land agree on one thing: An important part of the Maine way of life is at risk.
Sap buckets around a neighborhood in Belfast wait to be emptied by Sasha Kutsy and her family Wednesday. The family gathers sap from neighbor trees to make around two gallons of maple syrup.

Maple syrup isn’t just a business, it’s a way of life

By Abigail Curtis on March 28, 2017, at 5:57 a.m.
“As February rolls around and we are so eager for spring to come, this is a sign that it’s on its way.”