Wednesday, July 23, 2014
UNITY, Maine – The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) announced today that it has received a $1 million gift from the Partridge Foundation to establish an endowment in support of its new farmer training programs.
"This Partridge Foundation gift represents a tremendous vote of confidence in MOFGA and an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen our innovative new farmer training programs. We thank the Foundation for its generous support," said Ted Quaday, MOFGA's executive director.
The Partridge Foundation has also pledged an additional $1 million to the organization if MOFGA can raise a matching amount before January 14, 2017.
"This is a matching challenge that has the potential to bring our educational programs endowment to $3 million by the end of 2015," said Quaday. "We could not be more excited and enthused. We are reaching out to our many members and donors and inviting them to join us in building long-term support for these crucial programs."
The Partridge Foundation joined in announcing the gift with an expression of strong support for MOFGA and its educational programs.
"Partridge Foundation is proud to seed MOFGA's work in encouraging a new generation of organic farmers. The matching grant format of our award promotes both our founder Polly Guth's deep interest in healthful food and farming in her native New England and her zest for launching good small projects into broader-based appreciation and support. Partridge deeply hopes new donations will total $1 million so Partridge can give its second million to MOFGA," said the Foundation in a written statement.
MOFGA's new farmer training programs have an impressive record of success. In the past decade, more than 200 farmers have learned organic farming techniques and sound business practices through the organization's journeyperson training. These farmers have created more than 150 new farm businesses, and 89 percent of the graduates are still farming in Maine. More than one-third of the farmers selling at the Portland Farmers' Market this season trained as MOFGA journeypersons.
Daniel Mays trained as a journeyperson and now operates the MOFGA certified organic Frith Farm in Scarborough, Maine, with his partner, Sarah Longstreth, a current MOFGA journeyperson.
"MOFGA's training program was an invaluable resource for me in starting my farm business. Tailored support from MOFGA staff, mentorship with experienced organic farmers and a myriad of peer-to-peer learning opportunities gave me the foundation I needed to build a successful farm in Maine," said Mays.
Quaday said, "Organic agriculture is a growing economic opportunity in Maine. Young people see that. They are settling in Maine to create new farm businesses largely because MOFGA is providing comprehensive training and support. Together we are building an agricultural foundation that will help create new farm businesses and jobs while making sure the rising consumer demand for local organic food is met."
Thousands of young people have also gained valuable experience through MOFGA's apprenticeship program, another part of MOFGA's new farmer training. The apprenticeship program links farm operators with prospective farmers seeking on-farm learning opportunities. Through MOFGA this year, 175 apprentices are gaining invaluable, hands-on experience on 105 Maine farms.
"Long-term support for these vital learning opportunities will help ensure their continued success and increase the availability of good food in Maine. We hope everyone who is committed to local, organic food will join us as we work to meet the fundraising challenge offered by the Partridge Foundation," Quaday added.
For information, contact Chris Hamilton, MOFGA