Chuck Penney, outreach coordinator for the NRCS, talks about what the organization can offer farmers at UMF on Tuesday, Feb. 27. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

FARMINGTON — The Greater Franklin County Food Council [GFCFC] teamed up with the UMaine Cooperative Extension team to bring farmers across Franklin County to the North Dining Hall at the University of Maine at Farmington on Tuesday, Feb. 27, for a day of resource gathering and networking.

Offered to farmers, prospective farmers, and community members, the event provided an opportunity to connect with agricultural service providers as well as each other.

According to Nick Rowley, sustainable agriculture and horticulture professional for the UMaine Cooperative Extension in Franklin County, a survey was distributed through UMaine Cooperative Extension and GFCFC to members of the agricultural community asking what types of services the two organization could offer the community.

Based on the response from over 200 farmers and other members of the community, Rowley shared with The Franklin Journal the number one response was resources and networking with other members of the community.

UMaine Cooperative Extension in Franklin County provided a soil quality analysis and other helpful information in the North Dining Hall at UMF on Tuesday, Feb. 27. Extension with the Greater Franklin County Food Council asked locals what types of services they could offer and networking was the biggest request.

“So, we put this together,” Rowley said. “We really wanted to focus heavily on western Maine and what types of resources you can find out here.”

The event was sponsored by Bangor Savings Bank and United Insurances and featured local farmers as well as representatives from agricultural organizations such as the Natural Resource Conservation Service [NRCS], Farm Service Agency [FSA], Maine Farmland Trust [MFT], Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association [MOFGA] and many more.


Panelists and representatives took turns showcasing their organization and what they can offer local farmers with booths set up around the room, providing brochures, business cards and other information that local farmers may utilize.

Kaitlyn Sargeant, center, and Thomas Kuklinski of the USDA Farm Service Agency sort through their booth on Tuesday, Feb. 27. The duo handed out brochures, information and little stress balls shaped like cows for those particularly stressful days on the farm. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

In between the talk about soil and tomato plants, attendees could help themselves to sandwiches and other delightful items thanks to Orange Cat Café.

“They are awesome,” Kaitlyn Sargeant, a farm loan officer of the USDA Farm Service Agency, shared. A resident of Strong, Sargeant shared that Orange Cat Café buys locally, including Sargeant’s eggs.

“I’ve been coming to events like this for years,” she added. “We had a really good turn out for this one. It’s really awesome.”

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