January 1, 2020

By Ramona du Houx

The Maine Farmland Trust (MFT) and The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) helped distribute $47,960 in grant funding to 38 Maine farms through the Maine Farm Emergency Grants program, in December. This is the second round of funding the two organizations have collaborated to fundraise and administer in response to the needs of Maine farmers impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

Sarah Alexander, Executive Director of MOFGA, notes, “Dealing with the day to day impacts of the coronavirus on top of a severe drought this summer has made for a difficult year for farms across the state. As we begin winter it’s important that we continue to support these businesses that are working hard to produce nutritious and high-quality food for our communities. These grants are just one piece of the puzzle, and we hope that additional federal and state support is on the way.”

The two organizations distributed $141,000 in the spring to 79 farms dealing with the initial impacts of COVID-19.

Farms awarded will use the funds to continue to offer products to the community in a safe manner and for essential operating costs. Josh Girard, of Girard Farm in Lyman is adjusting his marketing strategy to allow for on-farm sales year-round. He notes “We will continue to expand and improve our farm stand to accommodate fall, spring and winter sales.”

Market disruptions continue to negatively impact many farms’ abilities to operate as usual. Several cited the need to expend additional time and cost to obtain essentials that include, livestock, feed, packaging and more.

Lisa Reilich of Painted Pepper Farm in Steuben noted “we had significant disruption in markets and access to feed due to border closure and packaging due to glass shortages.” She added that the farm has had to significantly shift their markets and they will use the funds in part to “invest in infrastructure that helps streamline online ordering for on farm pickup and a stand-alone farm store structure.”

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