After convening a diverse group of farmers, agricultural service providers and other stakeholders in 2019 to focus on the longstanding farm labor shortage in Maine, the seed for Merrymeeting Food Council’s (MFC) Farm Skills Training Program was planted. Now in its second year, the Farm Skills Training Program provides participants with an opportunity to develop farm skills needed for jobs while growing food for the community and aims to support area farms experiencing these labor challenges. The program is part time and paid, and the network of collaborating organizations assists participants in accessing food, childcare, transportation, and career support.
This year, Kate Wallace joined MFC to coordinate the program, which runs from mid-March through early June. It is a combination of virtual workshops (like resume writing and communication skills) and in-person training (planting, soil management, tool care, and produce washing). The majority of the training takes place at Growing to Give in Brunswick with specific workshops held at other farms in the Brunswick-Topsham-Bowdoinham region.
For MFC, the program supports their mission to connect different parts of the food system, foster sustainable partnerships, and create a community that together can help build a vibrant and resilient local food system. Partners in this program include Goodwill Workforce Solutions, Growing to Give, Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program, and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.
If you are interested in learning more about the program, please reach out to Kate (MFCfarmskills@gmail.com).