Wednesday, September 29, 2010

news on one of our farm family's

Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District Honors the 2010 Agriculture Cooperator of the Year

Felix Blinn, Acting Chairperson, and Shelia Richard, Executive Director of PCSWCD, present Chris and Wendy Russell with a new farm sign and their achievement award.
On August 5, 2010 Chris and Wendy Russell, owners of Widdershins, were honored by PCSWCD for the low impact practices they use on their farm.

Rotational grazing, use of animal trails to reduce runoff, nutrient management, and manure storage facilities are just some of the practices they successfully manage. Many family members, friends, and interested public came to the event.

Felix Blinn, Acting Chairperson of PCSWCD, talked about the PCSWCD and its role in conservation and then introduced the Russell's. Wendy and Chris talked about the history of the farm and their vision for it.

Alice Begin, Resource Conservationist for Natural Resources Conservation Service, talked about grasses and the importance of rotational grazing to prevent overuse of the pastures. During a walk around the Russell’s pastures Alice showed how to use a pasture stick to calculate the amount of useable grasses in a field in order to rotate your animals before overuse occurs.

After the walking tour the participants were treated to a barbecue lunch of hamburgers that were made from Widdershins grass-fed beef, potato salad, pasta salad, and dinner rolls followed by a blueberry cream pie.

Following lunch Cathy Elliott, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, discussed sustainable living using a thought provoking handout to initiate questions. Wendy treated the group to her homemade goat’s milk gelato, which is frozen custard. The presentation of a new farm sign and an achievement award was then carried out.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

TV interview today

HI Farmers and Friends,
I just wanted to let you know Fred Sherburne and I were interviewed by NBC's WLBZ Channel 2 news today about Dexter's Community Farm Project. It is going to be aired tonight at 5 PM and 6 PM John the camera guy told me.
I hope I did okay for ya...
On another note, remember we have a meeting next Tuesday, October 5th at 7 pm in the Town Council Chambers. We need YOUR input for a grant Jason is writing. Sue has also found a bunch of grants that we are looking into such as EBT & others.
We have a lot to talk about, a lot to pick your brains about, so please try to attend next week.
Feel free to call me anytime with questions and concerns.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Construction continues at a good pace

The construction of the Fossa General Store is moving right along.
The drain pipe that was discovered under the building when digging out for the foundation was replaced by the town and the footings were put in.
Today the forms were being put up by Edgar Construction of Blanchard and it looked like they were digging by hand in the cellar under the front of the store.
I didn't want to bother the workers asking too many questions, but I did take pictures.
pictures for today!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bangor Daily News Story

Building project begins in Dexter

Wednesday, September 15, 2010
By Diana Bowley of the BDN Staff: DEXTER, Maine — The first phase of a renovation project to convert the former Fossa General Store into a farmers market and general store officially has begun in downtown Dexter.

S.J. Wood Construction Co. of Winthrop, which bid $244,979 for the project, was awarded a contract this month to renovate the building.

Dexter Regional Development Corp., through the town of Dexter, received a nonprofit Community Development Block Grant of $230,000 for the work.

All of the bids submitted were higher than anticipated, so the work plan had to be scaled back to fit the lowest of the bids, according to Judy Craig, a member of the corporation and executive director of the farm project, both of which are unpaid positions.

Despite that setback, Craig said this week, “We’re very excited about the work starting.”

The corporation also is pleased that the general contractor plans to hire local subcontractors to complete the project, she added.

That project will cover primarily the foundation costs, the renovation of the addition in the back of the building and the exterior walls, and installation of new windows.

Craig said the corporation and town officials are working to secure additional grants to complete the project.

Backers of the project, which include many regional farmers, are working not only for a farm store, but also a demonstration kitchen, a warehouse to store the farm produce and a creamery where milk and milk products can be processed in public view.

The latter would provide residents in the region with fresher milk since some milk is trucked to Vermont where it is bottled and then returned to Maine for sale.

Farmers say the project would help maintain the open space and farmland now being used, and quite possibly open up more land for farming while keeping dollars local.

“We should be more sustainable in our own area,” farmer Fred Sherburne said.

The store would sell products made at the creamery, as well as products grown or raised within a 50-mile radius.
"This content originally appeared as a copyrighted article in the Wednesday, September 15, 2010 edition of the Bangor Daily NEWS and is used here with permission."

Email and blog post

Hi all:
I am sending this along for Jason who will be talking to you at the next meeting for this big grant.
The next meeting is October 5th at 7 PM at the Town Council Chambers and we REALLY need you to come and give your input to Jason.

Construction began last week on the Fossa Store and as of yesterday, the footings were put in on the back part of the building. Please check the blog for more details and picture link. I am trying to get pictures and updates regularly now that the project has begun, so bookmark the blog and check in frequently.

Call me anytime for more information. FYI: I will be gone next week from Tuesday thru Sunday for my daughter's wedding on Peakes Island in Portland.

Below is the info from Jason on the Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program....


As we discussed, there is a great funding opportunity that has come up that would provide support for the store to get up and running. However, I will need some help in pulling together all of the information and building community support. So, I need to pull in the troops so that we don't miss out on this opportunity.

If you could, please pass this on to the group. I Also, need to ask to monopolize the agenda for the next meeting on the 5th (I believe) in order to brainstorm our proposal with the group, and to get some help pulling everything together.

Here is some information about the grant:

Up to $125,000 a year for a $300,000 total award

A 1 to 1 match is required (cash or in-kind)

Eligible expenses can be operating costs such as labor, utilities, and maybe working capital

Here is the link to the full program description.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Footing done today

Went down to work site and took pictures of the footings put in today around the broken drain pipe.

They said they can still fix the pipe and keep the project moving forward.

Construction has begun!

Roger Brawn, DRDC President, Dave Pearson, DRDC VP and I went to DECD in Augusta on September 3rd to sign all the paperwork with S. J. Wood Construction Co., Inc. of Winthrop.
We were surprised, but happy to see them at work the following week and demo'ing!
We have been told that S. J. Wood plans on using many "local" contractors for sub work, which is great for our local economy. Matt McKusick Construction is digging currently on site.
I was on the job site yesterday and found the guys all looking down into the hole (which is going to be our foundation).
There is a huge pipe that is an old drainage pipe from back in the 1800's because it was put in before the building was built. It runs in from Grove Street, straight thru our building and down thru the municipal parking lot. (who knew?)
They called in Mike Delaware from Highway Dept. and because it is a town pipe, they ordered one from out of state and it should be here later this week.
Check out the pictures to see what is happening.
Jason and I are working on Grants tomorrow to try and find more money for the 'inside' construction.
Unfortunately our 1st CDBG Grant of $230K plus our $50K match is only going to do the foundation, windows and outside of structure (including the siding).
Discouraging I know, but WE CAN DO IT folks!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Monthly Meeting tonight: Agenda

Monthly Meeting tonight, Tuesday Sept 7th at 7 pm, town council chambers....
Many things to talk about tonight.

1) Volunteers? Need help to get “tin panels” to Mike Wallace at Dexter Sandblasting who is restoring them

1) Opening of Contractor bids: August 17th

2) Contractor winner wasn’t official under Roger Brawn, Dave Pearson and I went to DECD office in Augusta on Sept 2nd to sign the appropriate paper work with Terry Ann Stevens.

3) Roger is going to speak about the bid procedure and how it works with DECD and our roles. (chain of command)

4) The contractor chosen is S. J. Wood Construction Co. of Winthrop. They are going to start as soon as the end of this week or beginning of next week. We will talk about the scope of work tonight.

5) Great article in the July Up North Magazine written by Fran Emmons about 3 or our farmers and the Farm Project. I will have some copies for you to browse through. It featured Sherburne Farm, Leaves & Blooms & Midsummer Night’s Meadow Farm and a little about our project

6) Sheila Grant wrote another article in the SV Weekly... link

7) Sue Watson talking about pertinent upcoming farm workshops

8) whats next? Idea and suggestions!

7) General Discussion AND Q & A

Next meeting: October 5th at 7 PM