AUGUSTA — Heidi Baker is looking for a herd manager for Aldermere Farm in Rockport.

Baker, who was staffing a table at the job fair at the 77th annual Agricultural Trades Show for the farm, said she might not find a candidate during the three-day event, but it’s a place to start.

“I bet I will have a conversation with somebody who will tell somebody about it who will apply,” she said.

The Agricultural Trades Show, which started Tuesday and runs through Thursday at the Augusta Civic Center, brings together a host of agricultural industry businesses each January to showcase what new services and products are available. The show also is a chance for professional groups, societies, associations and networking groups to host meetings and conventions.

“In Maine, in agriculture, it’s all about networking and connecting with the crowds, since we’re all usually out in the hayfields,” she said.

It’s an interesting — and challenging — time to be looking for workers.

Baker said fewer and fewer children are growing up on farms in Maine, and the schools don’t have the same kind of introductions to agriculture programs that are offered in other states. But at the same time, the industry is undergoing expansion and the need for workers is growing.

Glenn Mills, senior economist with the Center for Workforce Research at the state Department of Labor, said the agricultural employment categories that are tracked — crop production and animal production and aquaculture — are both on an upswing. In the decade between 2006 and 2016, employment increased 64 percent to 2,400 jobs in the former and by 34 percent to 1,000 jobs in the latter.

“These are the wage and salary jobs,” Mills said.

But it’s not the full scope of activity, he said. The numbers don’t include self-employed farmers or cooperatives where members pitch in to do the work.

“Anecdotally, agriculture is in the news more than it used to be. We see more signs of it,” he said.

Maine-grown products are part of the state’s food economy, and that’s inspiring Ashwini Kreigh-McNeal, who traveled from Topsham to the show on Tuesday with her mother, Elizabeth Kreigh, who is a master gardener and a longtime member of the Maine Landscape and Nursery Association

Kreigh-McNeal is interested in having a small farm-to-table restaurant. While the project is still at the idea stage, she said she had visited the Kennebec Valley Community College booth to get information on its culinary program.

“I have always been interested in how close you can get your food to you before you eat it,” she said. And while she doesn’t plan to become a farmer, she would like to work in partnership with one for her plan.

So someday, she might work with someone who will have worked for Baker.

Baker is a third-generation farmer in Rockport. Her grandfather worked as manager for Albert Chatfield Jr., the owner of Aldermere Farm, and continued on the farm, known for its herd of black and white Belted Galloway cattle, after the Chatfield died and left the farm to the Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

“My grandfather was an amazing cattle guy, but not a people guy,” she said.

Her father, who had left the farm to work in human resources in the corporate world, came back to farm to take on those tasks.

Baker also left the farm for awhile to pursue education as a career, but she returned to be herd manager for six years before she recently was named general manager.

While Baker wants to fill her former position, Aldermere Farm hosts agricultural educational programs, including summer internships of a couple of months to apprenticeships that last nine months, and is looking for candidates for those, too.

“We encourage people interested in the agricultural world to try the apprenticeship,” she said. “We have learned that’s really the perfect amount of time for someone to figure it out.”

While the farm gets a lot of résumés, she said, they are not always the résumés the staff is looking for.

“There are plenty of people who need jobs but don’t have the skills for the jobs,” she said. “It’s not just here, but everywhere.”

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.