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April 26, 2024

Friday Food Insider Notebook: New grocery stores, grants and businesses opening for the season

Courtesy / Skowhegan Farmers’ Market Pictured here is the Skowhegan Farmers’ Market, which provides local food and nutrition assistance programs for low-income families as well as business opportunities for local farms and food producers.

Maine's food system is getting a boost in financing capacity from a $2.8 grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The grant comes through USDA’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative.

Brunswick-based Coastal Enterprises Inc. will lead the project in partnership with the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. 

The grant will help create a new food system investment fund and increase access to existing financial resources and technical assistance.

CEI will use the funding to structure the new food system investment fund, including hiring staff, establishing policies and assembling an advisory council. Once established, the fund will provide loans, credit enhancements and technical assistance for food processing businesses, local distributors and retail operations. 

“No matter where you live across America, you should be able to get affordable, fresh and healthy food,” said Torres Small, deputy secretary. 

The USDA last awarded Healthy Food Financing Initiative grants in Maine in 2022 to the Cooperative Development Institute in Lewiston; Land and Furrow LLC in Skowhegan; and Good Tern Co-op in Rockland. Together, these proposals received a total of $536,000.

Land and Furrow in Skowhegan was formed in 2021 by Amber Lambke, the founder and CEO of Maine Grains and a 2022 Mainebiz Business Leader of the Year. The grant paid for pre-construction engineering expenses to help develop a permanent indoor space and outdoor plaza for the Skowhegan Farmers' Market. The Skowhegan market provides local food assistance programs for low-income families and business opportunities for local farms and food producers.

“As we have seen with prior [Healthy Food Financing Initiative] grants in Maine, federal funding can accelerate local food initiatives,” said Rhiannon Hampson, the USDA Rural Development Maine State director.

The latest announcement "signals an important investment in Maine’s food system and a win from every perspective," Hampson continued. "Businesses will benefit from new financing options and technical assistance. For consumers, it will mean a more reliable food chain. Just as importantly, the work will help build a more equitable food system to support health and economic vibrancy for all Mainers.”

What else is going on in the food world?

Quarryside at Rock Row, featuring Lone Pine Brewing, will reopen on Friday, May 24. Opening weekend festivities will include a gift to the first 50 visitors Friday and Saturday and free live entertainment both nights from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Quarryside will continue to offer a selection of craft brews, specialty cocktails, an all-new dessert menu and adult slushie options for the summer.

Hannaford Supermarkets opened stores at 62 West Main St. in Fort Kent and 58 Main St. in Madawaska. The new stores bring the total number of company locations to 189, including 68 in Maine.

Market Basket, owned by Tewksbury, Mass.-based DeMoulas Super Markets Inc., will open its latest Maine store in Topsham at 169 Topsham Fair Mall Road. Market Basket has not set an opening date but is in the process of hiring employees. Maine has two Market stores, at 90 Rock Row in Westbrook and 220 Mariner Way in Biddeford. 

What new restaurants have you tried in northern Maine? The Mainebiz Food Insider wants to hear from you! Contact Alexis Wells at

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