Cultivating Community to Receive Nearly $600,000 Federal Grant to Train New Farmers
Congresswoman Pingree meeting with veteran farmers earlier this year.
PORTLAND, MAINE—Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME) announced today that Portland-based Cultivating Community would receive a $597,252 grant from the USDA to train and help support the growth of New American and veteran farmers in Maine.
“It’s been so exciting to see new groups of Mainers enter farming in recent years, thanks to organizations like Cultivating Community that have helped them get started and to grow their businesses. Agriculture has been especially beneficial in creating economic opportunities for Maine’s New American and veteran populations,” said Pingree. “This grant will help keep up that momentum by building on recruitment, training, and assistance efforts that have already led to the creation of over 50 new farms. My sincere thanks to Cultivating Community and its partners for their work to diversify and strengthen Maine’s farming economy.”
“We in Maine and New England need to produce more of our own food. It's what's right for our people and our land and it's an increasingly important economic driver for the region,” said Cultivating Community Executive Director Craig Lapine. “Our work generally and this project specifically is about making sure that all Maine people—whether they're young or old, whether their families have been in the region three centuries or three years—can have an impact and make a living through agriculture.”
The USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) grant will be used to provide land access, new opportunities for product diversification and market access, and four levels of training to New American, veteran and other small-scale producers. Among other initiatives, the project will expand an existing gardener-to-farmer pipeline, provide intensive training to new farmers at varying levels of expertise, and work to address land access issues.
This project builds on the success of existing training programs supported by BFRDP grants in 2014 and 2009 that have resulted in the creation of 52 new farm businesses to date. By project end, this BFRDP grant will result in the creation of another 30 new farm businesses, will provide intensive support to 12 new and beginning farmers, and will provide services to an additional 490 farmers and people exploring farming.
Cultivating Community’s partners on the project are the Maine AgrAbility Program, the Somali Bantu Community Mutual Assistance Association of Lewiston-Auburn, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Maine Farmland Trust, Community Financial Literacy, and Coastal Enterprises Inc.
Pingree is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, which oversees funding for the USDA.