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LA Region Farmland Access & Food Economy Conference

March 7, 2019

This conference was attended by 100 stakeholders of diverse backgrounds.   Thank you for making the event a success.   Please see additional resources below.

LA Region Farmland Access & Food Economy Conference
8AM – Registration, Senior Center
    • Open networking, coffee & locally-sourced light breakfast items available
    • Childcare check-in in Auburn Rec Department Hasty Gym (next door)
8:30AM – Welcome
  • Presenter:  Good Food Council of Lewiston-Auburn
8:50 –  Storytelling: Farmland in the LA Region & Beyond
    • Maurice Keene, Retired Auburn Dairy Farmer
    • Muhidin Libah, Director of Somali Bantu Community Association
    • Stephanie Gilbert, Farm Viability and Farmland Protection Specialist, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry (MDACF)
9:30 – Small Group Discussions: Addressing the Challenges & Opportunities
10:15 – Harvest of Conversations: Share Learnings
10:30 – Break
  • Locally-sourced refreshments available
10:45 – Learning Conversations – Participants may choose to join one or more conversations during this hour.
Topics and facilitators:
  • Making Your Land Available for Farming
        • Abby Sadauckas, Farmer & Maine Field Agent, Land For Good
  • Strategies for Finding Land
        • Nina Young, Project Development Specialist & Designated Broker, Maine Farms Realty, Maine Farmland Trust
  • Food & Farm Economic Development, Including Agritoursim
        • Stephanie Gilbert, Farm Viability and Farmland Protection Specialist, MDACF
        • Dina Jackson, Economic Development Specialist, Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments
  • Food Processing: Challenges and Opportunities
    • Dave Seddon & Ron Adams, Maine Farm & Sea Cooperative
  • Working with New American Farmers
        • Alex Redfield & Hussein Muktar, Cultivating Community
  • Farming Cooperatively
        • Jonah Fertig-Burd & Omar Hassan, Cooperative Development Institute
  • Funding and Financing for Farms and Food Businesses
        • Daniel Wallace, Loan & Investment Officer, CEI
        • Deborah Hawkins, Northeast New England Outreach Officer, Cooperative Fund of New England
  • Land Trusts Supporting Farmland Protection & Access
    • Ethan Miller, Land in Common community land trust
    • Shelley Kruszewski, Androscoggin Land Trust
    • Jamie Pottern, Agrarian Trust
11:45 – Harvest of Conversations: Share Learnings
12:00 – Closing
12:10 – Facilitated Networking for Farm Seekers and Land Owners
12:30 – Conference Adjourns
  • Childcare pick-up in Auburn Rec Department Hasty Gym (next door)
LA Region Farmland Access & Growing the Food Economy Conference

Whiting Farm, Auburn

The Lewiston-Auburn (LA) Region has a historic opportunity to utilize abundant natural resources and springboard economic development in the Food and Farm business sector. Across the state, momentum is building as entrepreneurs, farmers, manufacturers, culinary professionals, and the tourism industry have been growing the food economy in Maine, and we have the potential in our region to attract and retain people to “Grow it Here.” The LA Region is also rooted in farming heritage and contains vast farmland with prime agricultural soils. Many existing farm owners will be considering retirement in the next 5-10 years and much of this land will change hands. At the same time, the LA Region is home to many who are searching for land to farm.

Recognizing an opportunity for relationship-building and education around this historic opportunity and the abundance of options, the Good Food Council of Lewiston-Auburn — in cooperation with local, state, and regional partners — is organizing an LA Region Farmland Access & Growing the Food Economy Conference.

Lewiston Farmers’ Market

Why hold this conference now?

  • Agriculture is one of the largest sectors bringing younger people to Maine, with 40% of farmers currently aged 34 or younger. In fact, the State of Maine is the only state in the nation to experience an increase in the number of young and beginning farmers – those who are seeking to “Grow It Here”.


  • There are over 100 New American farmers in the Lewiston-Auburn region who are starting farms and/or are searching for farmland close to LA to lease or own.


  • The City of Auburn is currently considering changes to its Agriculture and Natural Resource Protection Zone, within which 40% of the city’s land mass – over 20,000 acres – is contained, and which also contains areas of prime and state-wide significance agricultural soils.


  • According to Maine Farmland Trust, less than 4% of Maine is prime agricultural soil. Of that, 1%  is already developed or in the process of being developed, and 1% is conserved. Those who believe growing the potential of local food in Maine, therefore, are working to keep the last 2% in working farmland production.


  • 400,000 acres of farmland in Maine are expected to change hands in the next 5 years due to aging farmers and landowners, 400 million across the nation.


  • Maine has over 8,000 farms that produce $3.8 billion in sales and create 24,000 jobs according to Maine Farmland Trust.


  • In 2014, the City of Portland won a federal manufacturing designation for food and agriculture just 1 of 12 awarded nationally — indicating a bright future for investment in food manufacturing infrastructure just 30 miles South of the LA region.

Harvest celebration, Somali-Bantu Community Association

Current Planning Team Members & Contributors:

  • Abby Sadauckas, Land for Good
  • Alex Redfield, Cultivating Community
  • Chris Carson, Auburn resident
  • Eliza Madden, Food Corps at St. Mary’s Nutrition Center
  • Erica Buswell, Maine Farmland Trust
  • Ethan Miller,  Land in Common community land trust & Wild Mountain Cooperative
  • Jonah Fertig-Burd, Good Food Council of Lewiston-Auburn & Cooperative Development Institute
  • Julia Harper, Good Food Council of Lewiston-Auburn
  • Kirsten Walter, Good Food Council of Lewiston-Auburn & St. Mary’s Nutrition Center
  • Kristina Kalolo, Somali-Bantu Community Association
  • Shelley Kruszewski, Good Food Council of Lewiston-Auburn & Androscoggin Land Trust
  • Stephanie Gilbert, Maine Dept. of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry


Would you like to get involved in event planning?  Contact Julia at GoodFood4LA@gmail.com

Conference Sponsors




Good Food & Marketing Sponsors: