Washington County Food Summit Will Focus on Fisheries
February 11, 2016

The 2016 Washington County Food Summit, scheduled for Saturday, March 12, will focus on the challenges faced and opportunities for our local fisheries. Living in the easternmost county of the United States along the Atlantic Ocean has many advantages. However, when it comes to moving fresh product out of the region, and even within the Downeast region, our distance from markets and the size of our county, can present challenges. Fishermen have a fairly well defined system for moving their highly perishable product to Boston and beyond, but if you want to purchase seafood right here, folks sometimes have a hard time locating product. In contrast, fresh vegetable growers frequently site the need for distribution channels in order to serve the buying clubs, as well as local and out-of-county markets.

The Summit Marketing Panel will address some of these challenges and will look at the successes of some business models. Join Jonah Fertig from the newly formed Maine Farm & Sea Cooperative; Matt Tremblay from the Unity Food Hub a new fresh vegetable aggregation and distribution model; Alan Furth, Cobscook Community Learning Center and the news from Maine Fresh; Nadine Preston, Mother Shuckers - oh my, can that woman sell some seafood! - and Tim Sheehan from the Gulf of Maine who sells product from over a hundred fishermen.

With the regularity of changing seasons, fishermen once routinely re-rigged their boats to harvest the species that was most available at the time. These days, that level of flexibility has dwindled. Come hear what diversification of fisheries Downeast style can look like with Larch Hanson from Maine Seaweed speaking about his decades-old model of sustainable seaweed harvesting and Jackson McLeod from Fluid Farms who is experimenting with multi-tropic aquaculture growing tilapia and lettuces. Robin Alden will speak about the diverse ways that Penobscot East Resource Center supports local fishermen, and Kristan Porter from Cutler - well, Kristan is not a typical fisherman - come hear how he sees his diversified role in the local food system.

The Summit will take place on Saturday, March 12, from 8:30am-4pm in East Machias at Washington Academy’s Fine Arts building. 1:1 Business Consulting and a Recipe to Market: Is it for Me? workshop are also available. Go to the online registration for the full agenda. A catered lunch will include vegetarian and meat/seafood entrees. Please bring your own water bottle to save on bottled water. There is no charge to attend, however a $5 donation to benefit local food pantries is suggested.

The Washington County Food Summit is sponsored by Healthy Acadia’s Community Food Council with major funding provided by the Maine Community Foundation. Additional sponsors and partners include Downeast Salmon Federation, Fishermen’s Voice, Look’s Gourmet, Maine Farmland Trust, Penobscot Bay Resource Center, Sunrise County Economic Council, The First, Washington County Council of Governments and Wymans of Maine.

To Register for the Summit, go to HealthyAcadia.org and click on the “What’s New?” to find online registration info. We welcome your involvement in the Washington County Community Food Council. For more information, contact Regina Grabrovac at Healthy Acadia’s Machias office, 255-3741, or at regina@healthyacadia.org.