Farmers to explore winter crops

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FARMINGTON – A free workshop, “Extending the Harvest, Part II – Farming the Back of the Calendar,” will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 29, at Church Street Commons. The workshop is planned for farmers seeking to extend their growing season with unheated and heated hoop house and greenhouse technologies.

“We know we can only satisfy consumer demand for locally grown foods to a certain extent at present, even with winter storage systems. We still need a supply of fresh greens and other produce through the winter and we can have them with relatively simple and inexpensive hoop house and greenhouse production methods,” said Paula Day, Eat Smart-Eat Local project coordinator.

Workshop presenters will be Dr. Mark Hutton, University of Maine’s Highmoor Farm, who will discuss low-cost, unheated hoop house construction and production methods; David Blanchard, co-owner of Flying Pond Farm in Vienna, who produces salad greens throughout the winter in heated hoop houses; and Arie Vandergiessen, chief operating officer at U.S. Functional Foods, the company constructing the 24-acre greenhouse facility in Madison for the year-round production of vine-ripe tomatoes.

Vandergiessen will share his experiences in Holland where home-scale greenhouse production is common throughout the winter.

The first of a series of workshops designed to help move Franklin and Somerset counties toward a sustainable local food system was held in Skowhegan in February. More than 30 producers from around the state attended to hear presenters discuss ways to extend the marketing season for root crops by constructing simple on-farm storage systems. A video/CD of the workshop is available from Western Mountains Alliance.

Call 696-8044 or e-mail WMA@maine.edu, to register. A light lunch will be available. The workshop is part of the Eat Smart-Eat Local project of Western Mountains Alliance and Maine Alternative Agriculture Association.

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