Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Annual Tour honoring our Cooperator of the Year

On Saturday, August 25th, the Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District (PCSWCD) along with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation District (NRCS) honored Sid and Rainie Stutzman of Stutzman’s Family Farm in Sangerville as the 2012 Outstanding Cooperator of the Year. The day began with introductions of the Stutzmans by Gordon Moore, Chair of the PCSWCD and a Maine District Forester.  

Sid talked about the various conservation practices they have implemented on the farm with help from some of the NRCS programs available to farmers. Sunny Stutzman spoke about the new Gothic arch cedar high tunnel that he designed under a Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) awarded to PCSWCD by NRCS. This high tunnel has been designed using a locally harvested product and locally available hardware, and is designed for use by farmers as well as backyard gardeners.
The high tunnel has wheels to make it portable. In this way the grower can move the high tunnel to a new location in order to rest and restore the soils after several seasons of use. Dave Power, District Conservationist for NRCS in Piscataquis County, spoke about available NRCS financial assistance programs.
The participants were given a tour of the CIG high tunnel as well as another high tunnel the Stutzmans bought with financial assistance through NRCS. There was a short tour of their fields and a question and answer segment regarding equipment that is used to produce the food which is sold at their farm stand and through Community Supported Agriculture.  A delicious lunch made with their farm grown produce was served while Caragh Fitzgerald, Extension Educator with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, discussed the findings of a cost benefits analysis on high tunnels and the importance of maintaining soil quality when growing crops in high tunnels.  
If you are interested in finding out more about the programs available from PCSWCD or NRCS, contact the USDA Service Center located in the Pine Crest Business Park at 42 Engdahl Drive, Dover-Foxcroft, Monday through Friday, 8am-4:30pm, call 564-2321 extension 3, or email info@piscataquisswcd.org. PCSWCD and NRCS are equal opportunity providers and employers.

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