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Maine Sustainable Year Round Agriculture Project

The Maine Sustainable Agriculture Society is leading an effort to develop technology and infrastructure to help farmers keep growing year-round in Maine. Their Sustainable Year Round Agriculture (SYRA) project is connecting Maines agricultural economy with the manufacturing sector and energy developers to address farm infrastructure needs.The project goals include the creation new year-round jobs, and the addition of scalable and affordable composite greenhouse or other structures to the market, that house a variety of agricultural and value added systems while producing local solar energy for the farm and surrounding areas.

Stedman answering questions

Nancy and Bruce Stedman, of Buxton, owners of a partner farm in the project, just completed construction on a large production greenhouse that also produces it own electricity. Their vegetable production will continue into and through the winter while also producing local power, and capturing the warmth of the sun and soil along with and supplemental heat more effectively than other models to date. This goes beyond season extension, and enables year-round production in a climate controlled area of the farm.

"The concept is a bit of a game changer,” Stedman says. "I'm tired of investing in rusty iron in the field, we want to bring this technology to the all Maine farmers. Nancy adds,“Bruce is always tinkering and looking for better, and more effective ways to run things”

Photovoltaic panels on Little River Flowr Farm greenhouse

Mark Hews, the Executive Director of the Maine Sustainable Agriculture Society, is thrilled about the developments. This is real agricultural innovation he says, “The kind where the deep and multi-faceted skills sets of Maine’s farmers can drive the development of an entire industry cluster for Northern climates.” Hews and his team are at work connecting agriculture, energy and infrastructure development partners with an eye toward building a new industry of agricultural infrastructure in Maine.

The Maine Sustainable Agriculture Society celebrates Maine’s farm legacy and applies it toward a new generation of businesses. If it doesn’t make money and leave the land better than you found it, then you might want to pause and think about what that means for your grandkids. Sure anyone can make money, but today’s economy demands that financial goals are matched by nature’s ultimate gold, that is to say, healthy, productive soils that meet or exceed our capacity to feed a growing population while sequestering national wealth in the form of carbon.

The SYRA project will host a series of open houses and outreach events open to the public throughout 2017. If you would like to stay tuned, make a donation, or read more about our farmer driven initiatives, please visit us at www.mesas.org

The Maine Sustainable Agriculture Society (MESAS) is a farmer-led nonprofit that focuses on helping farms in Maine achieve a triple bottom line regardless of the scale they operate at or the production methods they chose to use. That triple bottom line includes PROFITABLE FARMS, HEALTHY ECOSYSTEMS, and STRONG COMMUNITIES. As a farmer led, 501(c)3 organization, MESAS coordinates research into emerging trends and technologies for best sustainable practices, serves as an information “Hub” to help farmers have access to the information they need to make the best decisions possible for their operations, and conducts pilot projects/demonstrations that provide practical experience in a peer to peer learning environment.

Featured image of UMass Amherst Dining courtesy of the Kendall Foundation.