By Virginia Manuel, USDA Maine Rural Development State Director
USDA Rural Development provided a Rural Business Enterprise Grant to assist the Maine Alternative Agriculture Association (MA3) to renovate the former Grange Hall in Starks into a modern facility for processing and distributing local farm products.
An open house was held on July 28th to celebrate the completion of the project, which now includes a new kitchen and cold storage facility. The association will contract with local farmers to provide farm products that will be collected, processed and distributed from the new facility. The farm products will be ‘beyond organic’ by emphasizing sound soil management as well as being pesticide free.
USDA Rural Development Maine State Director Virginia Manuel emphasized the trend towards local food movement and the USDA’s ‘Know Your Farmer Know Your Food’ initiative which emphasizes building sustainable food systems and the importance of the public being aware of and involved in knowing the source of their food. Manuel also said that this project was about building partnerships with the community and others, and that this facility is exactly the type of project that USDA Rural Development should support. “It is great to see our funding come to life in this type of project and we are pleased to be part of this.”