Forum – Growing Farm Friendly Communities

Current & New Tools to Support Farms in Your Town

** This event has passed. See below for photos and resources. **

Monday, March 26th, 8:30 – 11:00a, Optional Resource Networking 11-11:30a

Coombs Building, 13 School Street, Bowdoinham

Co-hosted by GrowSmart Maine and Bowdoinham Community Development Initiative and in partnership with Maine Farmland Trust.

Building on the success of our January farm friendly communities forum in Windham, we are again offering a discussion of these important topics from local and state leaders in Bowdoinham in March.

Hear community & municipal leaders share policy approaches and practical ideas for ways communities and farmers can benefit from working together. Maine’s food system and local food movement are growing and provide unique economic and community development opportunities in rural and suburban areas. Attendees will come away knowing how to enable their community to work together with current and future farmers to protect and build on Maine’s agricultural heritage and potential. Our panel of experts will share how you and your hometown can welcome and retain small agricultural businesses.

Stephanie Gilbert, Farm Viability & Farmland Protection Specialist with the Maine Dept. of Agriculture, Conservation, & Forestry will moderate this panel discussion, followed by ample time for audience Q&A, networking, and connecting directly to available resources.

Digital Links & Resources

  1. GrowSmart Maine Educational Brief on Farm Friendly Communities – 2 page resource with additional matrix outlining current policies & support tools in towns & cities across Maine.
  2. Farm Friendly Community Checklist & Survey – Use this tool to determine if your town is farm friendly
  3. Guide to Cultivating Maine’s Agricultural Future – Created by Maine Farmland Trust & American Farmland Trust; full of helpful information for citizens and municipalities
  4. GSM Blog Post: The Value of Farms, Monetary & Beyond – Natural Resources Economist Rachel Bouvier shares the economic benefits of farmland & working farms for Maine communities.
  5. Town of Topsham Local Food Systems Case Study – Learn how agricultural heritage, local partnerships, and local government leadership combine to advance local food in Topsham.
  6. Voluntary Municipal Farm Support Program Information – Offered by the Dept of Agriculture, Conservation, Forestry, Agricultural Resource Development Division.
  7. Town of Winslow VMFSP – Program Description and definitions, application for program.
  8. Maine Network of Community Food Councils – Map and information about this network of local food councils working to strengthen Maine’s community food systems.
  9. Merrymeeting Food Council & Gleaners – Working to increase access to healthy food for all and address the high rate of food insecurity in the region.
  10. – Supporting a model of development that allows America’s cities, towns and neighborhoods to become financially strong and resilient. See information about ‘Cost of Community Services’ and how agricultural use reduces the cost of services to a municipality.
  11. Senator Vitelli’s Bill in the Maine Legislature – LD 1584,”An Act To Expand the Local Foods Economy by Promoting Local Foods Procurement” Sponsored by Senator Eloise Vitelli

Resource Organizations

  1. Maine Farmland Trust’s Municipal Policy Website – Resource hub for citizens and municipal leaders looking for example ordinances, comp plans, and community engagement tools to boost their town’s farm friendly status.
  2. Brunswick Topsham Land Trust -Local land trust serving Brunswick, Topsham and Bowdoin and partnering on diverse projects in and around the southern Midcoast region.
  3. Kennebec Estuary Land Trust – Protecting the land, water, and wildlife of the Kennebec Estuary
  4. Maine Farm Bureau – Works to ensure sustainability and profitability of Maine’s natural resource businesses and grow agriculture in Maine.
  5. Beginning Farmer Resource Network – Coalition of Maine agriculture agencies and organizations working together to connect aspiring and beginning farmers to resources for farm business success.
  6. Maine Soil & Water Conservation Districts – Map and contact information for each county’s SWCD. This agency can be a great ally in land use and conservation efforts.


  • Adam Bishop, Farmland Protection Program Director, Maine Farmland Trust
  • Sally Harwood, Co-Chair Agriculture Commission, Town of Winslow
  • Rod Melanson, PlanningDirector, Town of Topsham


  • 8:15 Registration, Networking, Light Breakfast & Coffee
  • 8:45a Welcome & Panel Presentations
    • Current Use Tax Programs
    • Easements & Other Conservation Options
    • Form-Based Code Approach to Creating Space for Agriculture
    • Topsham’s Local Farms-Local Food Initiative & Other Programs
    • Agriculture Commissions, the What & How
    • Voluntary Municipal Farm Support Program (VMFSP)
  • 10:30a Audience Question & Answer
  • 11a Program Concludes; Additional time to explore available resources