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Updated: May 29, 2023 From the Editor

‘Locally grown’ takes on several meanings

Locally grown is a term that’s been around since at least the 1970s, but its definition may have expanded over the years.

In our cover story, Renee Cordes looks at the growing number of women in farming. She talked with a grower of medicinal herbs in Union. In the Lewiston-Auburn area, in Wales, she met Somali Bantu farmers. She spoke with farmers on the Blue Hill Peninsula. Nationwide, there was a 27% increase in the number of female agricultural producers in just five years through 2017, outpacing the overall growth in producers (7%), according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Maine is among the top 5 states, based on percentage of women farmers. Some 44% of Maine’s 13,414 agricultural producers were women as of 2017. Maine is growing products and it’s growing new farmers. See Renee’s story, “Forces of nature,” which starts on Page 10.

In western Maine, there’s a different kind of growing going on. As Alexis Wells reports, Nate Burdick, owner of Upward Organics, is focused on growing cannabis with a low carbon footprint. The company is 100% electric and doesn’t use fossil fuel or propane, relying on solar and wood heat. Water use is carefully monitored. “Our mission is to produce the highest quality cannabis possible with the lowest environmental impact,” Burdick says. See Alexis’ story, “Going as green as possible,” on Page 19.

On the coast, Maine’s oyster industry has gone from just a handful of growers in the 1980s to about 150 oyster farms today, as Laurie Schreiber reports. Growers have to be knowledgeable and, as with anything that starts with a seed, the outcome is not always assured. Possibly as a consequence, the business has always had a grassroots element. As one of the original growers told Laurie, “It doesn’t take a huge investment to get into it. When we started, we kicked up a couple thousand dollars, went to see our local sawmill, bought lumber and started building cages.” See “This world is your oyster,” which starts on Page 14.

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