Farms, Food, and Philanthropy

Oakwood Farm. Photo by Bridget Besaw for Maine Farmland Trust

Photo by Bridget Besaw for Maine Farmland Trust

Local agriculture is a vital part of life in Maine. Our sense of place, our economy, and even our health can be tied to local food production.

Maine has a strong agricultural heritage, boasting more than 1.3 million acres of farmland. Agriculture contributes $1.2 billion to the state's economy. Growth in community supported agriculture, farmers' markets, organic farms, and farm-to-school initiatives indicates that the sector is ripe for support.

Maine is uniquely poised to build strong communities centered around local agriculture. Successful models exist and are ripe for expansion. The Maine Community Foundation, its donors, and others have provided support to many of these efforts and continue to explore how philanthropic resources can make a difference.

A Role for Philanthropy

Philanthropy can play a role in building a community, economy, and sense of place that center on local food production and benefit all Mainers. Grant funding is vital to organizations working in this field -- not just for the dollars, but also for the vote of confidence that can attract other public and private support.

Low-interest loans can help capitalize revolving loan funds focused on conserving farmland and meeting the financing needs of farmers. Connecting with like-minded donors may raise awareness about new funding opportunities and leverage funding for nonprofit partners. Sharing information from grantees can help build awareness and lead to more broad-based support.

In partnership with donors, the community foundation is working to make more funds available for this vital work and to contribute to the groundswell of awareness about the role that local food production plays in providing a sense of place, fostering economic opportunity, improving health and well-being, and building community.

For more information on how you can get involved, contact Jennifer Southard by e-mail or by phone, toll-free, at 877-700-6800, ext. 2204.

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