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Maine Senior FarmShare connects elders with fresh produce

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — As the growing season nears, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is reaching out to senior citizens to connect them with $50 worth of free local produce.

The Maine Senior FarmShare will enter its 18th year this summer and the Maine DACF is hoping to reach more senior citizens than the 16,000 served last year, said Donna Murray, Maine Senior FarmShare program manager.

The Senior FarmShare program is part of a national program funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and started in 2001. It’s available to anyone age 60 and over earning up to 185 percent of the federal poverty level, equal to $22,459 per year for a single person or $30,451 for a two-person household.

Eligible seniors enroll on a rolling basis and receive a credit to get $50 for a farm share over the course of a year from a participating farm, Murray said.

“We can connect them with a farm near them that participates in the program. It works different depending on the farm,” she said. “Some farms let seniors select their own produce at a market or farm store. Other farms deliver shares to seniors.”

About 110 farms across the state participate in the program and serve more than 16,000 seniors. In Aroostook County, there are 11 participating farms listed on the DACF website. Participating farms include Goughan’s Farm, J&K Farm, Holmes Farm, McElwain’s Farm, Ouellette’s Produce and Skonieczny Farm, all in Caribou, as well as Herbert Farms in Cross Lake, Haynesville Woods Farm and Treeland Farms in Hodgdon.

Seniors can enroll at any time of the year, but are encouraged to sign up between May and June, Murrary said.

New this year is a pilot project in Caribou at Goughan’s Farm, where a one-hour nutrition workshop will be held sometime in early August, Murray said. The workshop will feature tips on picking and preparing local produce, she said.

For more information on the Senior FarmShare program, email SeniorFarmShare@maine.gov or call 207-287-7526.

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