Tucked back in the woods of Parkman, Maine you will find Rusted Rooster Farm, owned and operated by Sean and Sandra O’Donnell. At first glance, you will notice a dedicated, young family and what appears to be a small, diversified farm. Upon staying awhile, you will see that Rusted Rooster Farm is anything but your typical small farm and come to realize the depth and diversity of production happening right here in Parkman.
Sean and Sandra produce a variety of vegetables, hay and dry beans, which they use to feed their family and market through the Brewer Farmers Market, Community Supported Agriculture shares, Crown of Maine Co-op and the Natural Living Center in Bangor. Additionally, Sean and Sandra specialize in growing grain – an endeavor not seen too often on small farms in Maine. Sean is currently part of a wheat breeding trial for Cornell University through a Northeast SARE grant. In addition to growing wheat, Sean also grows varieties of oats, barley, rye and soybeans for various uses.
Sean and Sandra have worked with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association to reach their goals to farm using new and innovative farming practices. Most recently, they welcomed the Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District’s (PCSWCD) Youth Summer Camp so they could teach this next generation the value of farming and the types of farming that they do right there at Rusted Rooster Farm.
Partly through their work with NRCS and the PCSWCD, Sean and Sandra have become a great example for farmers seeking to run successful farming operations while maintaining and protecting the natural resources in their area. This makes them excellent candidates for the PCSWCD’s 2014 Cooperator of the Year Award. Please join the Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District on Friday, September 12th from 9AM-1:30PM, as we honor Sean and Sandra O’Donnell, our 2014 Outstanding Cooperators of the Year!
This Annual Tour and Luncheon celebration to honor the O’Donnells will take place at Rusted Rooster Farm in Parkman. Sean O’Donnell will lead a farm tour highlighting his work with NRCS, the University of Maine and Cornell University. Additionally, Dr. Ellen Mallory and Tom Molloy from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension will be on hand to further discuss the wheat breeding trials that Sean is participating in.
Dr. Ellen Mallory is the University of Maine Sustainable Agriculture Extension Specialist and Tom Molloy is a Research Associate working with Ellen. Their research and outreach program focuses on small grain production, both organic and conventional, and on the sustainable use of organic amendments like manure and compost for crop fertility. Since 2009, they have led the Northern New England Local Bread Wheat Project, conducting extensive research trials, producing informational factsheets and research reports, and initiating the annual Maine Grain Conference. For more info about their work with small grains, visit www.umaine.edu/localwheat/. Ellen and Tom are also the Maine State Coordinator and Maine Outreach Coordinator, respectively, for the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, which offers grants for commercial farmers to test new ideas related to sustainable agriculture practices that other farmers could use. For more info about SARE in Maine, visit www.nesare.org/State-Programs/Maine/.
Dave Power, USDA-NRCS Piscataquis County District Conservationist will discuss the NRCS programs and practices that Sean and Sandra have implemented at Rusted Rooster Farm. The O’Donnell’s high tunnel that they purchased with assistance from NRCS enables them to extend their growing season for a wide variety of produce, and this tunnel, that is only heated by the sun, also helps keep their plants healthier because of the climate control it offers. The O’Donnells have also implemented biomass and foraging plantings through NRCS contracts. To learn more about how NRCS can help you help your land through the implementation of on-farm conservation practices, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/me/programs/.
After the tour, the PCSWCD will be offering a delicious picnic luncheon featuring seasonal and local foods, some of which are grown at Rusted Rooster Farm. Immediately following lunch, we will all join together to honor Sean and Sandra and all the incredible work they have done, and are doing in Piscataquis County, to produce food, farm sustainably and protect our natural resources.
To register for this exciting event, contact the PCSWCD by stopping in at our office in the USDA Service Center at 42 Engdahl Drive, Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, by calling (207) 564-2321 extension 3, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to celebrating and honoring Sean and Sandra O’Donnell of Rusted Rooster Farm on Friday, September 12th!