Articles by Lauren Abbate

Etna-Dixmont Elementary School student Hailey Power, 5, holds a corn seedling before planting it in the school's vegetable garden, May 25, 2017.

Maine school district receives thousands in federal funds for farm-to-school initiatives

By Lauren Abbate on June 25, 2017, at 7:16 a.m.
By bringing agriculture and local food into schools, students can learn a host of skills ranging from healthy nutrition habits to what it takes to run a business.
 Farmer Michael Hayden of Folklore Farm in Cherryfield sets up his pop-up farm stand for children to come select vegetables to take home with them at Milbridge Elementary School in Milbridge, Jan 12, 2017.

Project offering free legal service to farmers, food producers hits milestone

By Lauren Abbate on June 23, 2017, at 11:31 a.m.
Farmers are experts on a lot of agrarian topics. But when it comes to legal matters, navigating the nitty gritty of regulations and contracts might not be where a farmer feels most at home. This is where a project run by the Conservation Law Foundation comes in.
A recent post on Copper Tail Farm's Instagram shows Jon McKee snuggling with one of the farm's goats.

Farmers are using social media to connect with customers beyond the farmers market

By Lauren Abbate on June 13, 2017, at 5 a.m.
Precious pictures of goats, birds and other outdoor creates do more for Copper Tail farm than just illicit “likes.” The Instagram and Facebook presences they’ve curated gives them a platform to connect with existing and potential customers outside of the farmers market.
Companion planting around fruit trees always draws a crowd at Farm & Homestead Day workshops. Companion plants help support beneficial insects, including pollinators.

MOFGA Farm and Homestead Day focuses on teaching traditional skills

By Lauren Abbate on June 08, 2017, at 10:29 a.m.
The Farm and Homestead workshops cover a range of skills, from gardening techniques to blacksmithing, all aimed at getting folks to do things in a more traditional way.
Carole Mapes takes flower seedlings to transplant them into a field. Carole Mapes is the current farmer-in-residence. She will grow about 50 varieties flowers this season. The residence program lasts two years, and she has access to MOFGA's agricultural resource base to establish her own business.

Maine farmer chooses organic living over Iowa agribusiness roots

By Lauren Abbate on June 07, 2017, at 11:41 a.m.
“I sometimes think about it and am like, ‘Wow, I’m really lucky,’” Carole Mapes said. “It’s hard to imagine where I would be in this first year farming without being here.”
College of the Atlantic students Grace Burchard (left) and Anita van Dam process surplus squash they purchased from a Cape Elizabeth farm for their start-up business [Re]Produce.

College of the Atlantic students take on food waste with business startup

By Lauren Abbate on June 02, 2017, at 5:30 a.m.
Students at Etna-Dixmont Elementary School work on cleaning out the weeds and old plants from the school's vegetable garden last week.  RSU 19 is in the process of overhauling how the school handles its food waste and is working to use more food grown on site in the school's cafeteria.

From trash to table, RSU 19 is seeking to put its food waste to better use

By Lauren Abbate on May 31, 2017, at 5:45 a.m.
“The whole loop we’re looking for [with this project] is to go from the table to the compost to the garden and back to the table.”
Fresh strawberries are hand-sorted

What you can do today to enjoy the summer harvest all year long

By Lauren Abbate on May 27, 2017, at 7:45 a.m.
Most people envision glass jars filled with pickled cucumbers and beans when think of food preservation, but freezing and drying fruits or vegetables are two other relatively simple ways seasonal foods can be preserved.

Packages of L.A. Lucky Brand basil seeds recalled for possible health risks

By Lauren Abbate on May 24, 2017, at 2:08 p.m.
Anyone who has purchased these recalled products should dispose of them.
Jackie Robinson has been looking into buying her parents farm, Leaves and Blooms Greenhouses in Dover-Foxcroft. Robinson has been running the farm for seven years, but she is unable to get a loan because of defaulting on her student loan payments. She is working on repaying her $20,000 student loan debt, but at this point she has very few options to keep the farm in the family.

Student debt could cost this Maine family the farm

By Lauren Abbate on May 22, 2017, at 3 a.m.
The 175 acres of forest and farmland that’s home to Leaves and Blooms Greenhouse on Route 15 has been in Jackie Robinson’s family for four generations. But because of the damage that defaulting on her student loan payments has done to Robinson’s credit, it’s uncertain whether the farm will continue in the family for a fifth generation.
Kate Garland, horticulturist at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, talks about how to plan the a possible layout for a small container garden.

No yard? No problem: How Mainers grow gardens in small spaces

By Lauren Abbate on May 17, 2017, at 12:15 p.m.
It’s a good first step into growing your own produce and gives you the freedom to plant in whatever space you have.
Prudence the 5-year-old sow rests comfortably in a pile of hay at Cornerstone Farm in Palmyra. Owner Hanne Tierney said they produce pastured pork products, certified organic vegetables and eggs at the farm.

Local meat in Maine is a mere farmer away

By Lauren Abbate on May 12, 2017, at 12:02 p.m.
“The big thing for people is knowing that the animals are treated with respect and that they’ve had the best life they can possibly have. So [customers] are getting a really high-quality product that was responsibly raised.”
Letters from three Mainers are included in the new book "Letters to a Young Farmer," which gives advice and inspiration to young farmers through a series of letters written by food and agriculture figures.

‘We really, really need you’: Maine farmers pen advice book for novice growers

By Lauren Abbate on May 11, 2017, at 1 a.m.
“Without you, we can’t make the changes that so many of us believe are critical to reforming our food system, and we certainly can’t reverse the devastating damage that has already been done due to our changing climate.”
Some of the solar panels installed on buildings at the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association fairground in Unity.

How Mainers keep finding new sources of energy

By Lauren Abbate on May 08, 2017, at 1 a.m.
“There is a stewardship ethic that people share and they realize that our kids and our grandkids will inherit the Maine that we leave them.”
Troy Howard Middle School Garden Project coordinator David Wessels shovels leaves on the compost pile  at Troy Howard Middle School school's garden.

This series on reducing, recycling will help you stop wasting food

By Lauren Abbate on May 04, 2017, at 8:26 a.m.
The first ever Maine Composts Week, a series of events being held between May 7 and May 13, will show people what they can do to cut down on food waste.
Food scraps, leftovers, lobster bodies, rabbit droppings and chicken bones

How to build successful composting habits

By Lauren Abbate on May 02, 2017, at 9:33 a.m.
Successful composting is all about balance.
Cat Randall at her Bangor home. A few years ago Randall started with six chickens, and now she has 60. Some of them are laying hens, but she also has unique chickens that she keeps as pets.

Want to raise backyard chickens in Maine? Here’s what you need to know

By Lauren Abbate on May 01, 2017, at 5:56 a.m.
“Once you get into it, you’re like, ‘Well, I can add a couple more, it’s no big deal,’” Randall said. “I mean, we definitely went a little overboard. […] But that’s what happens. You start by getting one, and then you’re like I want this one and this one. They’re cool.”
Troy Howard Middle School seventh graders Hayden Brewer (left) and Jason Bartlett weed the raised beds in the school's garden in a May 2016 file photo.

How to tackle your garden’s weeds and pests this season without using chemicals

By Lauren Abbate on April 27, 2017, at 6:16 a.m.
More Mainers are looking for organic ways to remediate weed and pest problems in their gardens rather than using chemical herbicides and pesticides.
Albie Barden of Norrigewock is among the few people who call themselves cornkeepers. He has been preserving and trying to bring back native strains of flint corn that were grown in many Maine and New England regions by Native Americans. Barden has grown and distributed seeds from roughly 12 strains of flint corn over the years.

‘An amazing, amazing food:’ A Maine man’s mission to preserve native flint corn

By Lauren Abbate on April 24, 2017, at 11:43 a.m.
“This is not a commercial venture on my part. It’s a restoration of a staple food to this region that was just an amazing, amazing food.”
Gray-New Gloucester Middle School teachers Morgan Kerr (left) and Stephanie Enaire (right) have been awarded the National Excellence in Teaching About Agriculture Award.

Two Maine teachers get national recognition for nature-based teaching methods

By Lauren Abbate on April 18, 2017, at 10:12 a.m.
“It’s really important that students have an understanding of how the world works around them, and food and agriculture is just such a great way to bring them that understanding,” Morgan Kerr said.