How is it possible to grow tomatoes year-round on 42 acres in Madison, Maine? What do potato farms and vodka have in common? What do farms have to do with economic development?
Join MEREDA, Green Thumb Farms and Backyard Farms for breakfast at Pineland Farms, October 16, 2012 from 7:30 – 9:00 AM for answers to these questions and many others, and learn about specific ways Maine's agricultural industry is impacting economic development in Maine.
A discussion will be led on Maine's agricultural industry and how these two examples positively impact the State's economic development. Don Thibodeau at Green Thumb Farms and Jeff McElroy at Backyard Farms will speak about the importance of innovation in the agricultural world, including out-of-the-box ideas on higher margin products, building of greenhouses, energy costs, and installation of LNG to save on fuel costs. Both Green Thumb Farms and Backyard Farms have expanded their space and utilized new ideas for their businesses in recent years.
In addition to our speakers, you will witness an example of agricultural growth in Maine at Pineland Farms. Come see how Pineland has grown their farm buildings and business into cheese production, and wholesale and retail sales of produce and meats. Tour the Market at Pineland Farms and enjoy the selection of fresh local foods, desserts, wine, local beers, produce and coffee.
Learn how all of these Farms continue to work to find interesting ways of adding value to their products to increase production and profitability. Discover how MEREDA's members can learn from these innovative techniques and how sustainable farms are critical to our local economy.
Don Thibodeau is President of Green Thumb Farms, a partner of Maine Distilleries, and Fresh Solutions Network. After graduating from Fryeburg Academy and attending the University of Maine at Farmington, Don began his career selling potatoes to supermarket chains and learned about trading commodity futures after joining his father Lawrence at Maine Farmers Exchange (MFX). At that time, MFX was the largest trader of fresh potato contracts in the New York Mercantile Exchange. In 2001, Don and his brother put together the concept of producing potato vodka and with two other partners, successfully launched Cold River Vodka in 2005. His latest venture is working with growers and shippers in the Fresh Solutions Network, made up of family owned farms and shippers throughout the US. Together they market potatoes to a wide variety of markets.
Jeffrey B McElroy is the Vice-President-Research and Development for Backyard Farms LLC, in Madison, Maine, USA, where he heads up the research and development efforts for the company and conducts research focused on factors that impact flavor characteristics in tomatoes. Before joining Backyard Farms, Jeff was Vice-President, BioEnergy Seeds for Mendel Biotechnology, Inc, in Hayward, California, USA, where he led the strategic planning and project implementation for the BioEnergy Seeds program (2008-2010), Vice-President, Research at Harris Moran Seed Company (USA), where he managed plant breeding programs and genetic research for many vegetable crops (1999-2008). Mr. McElroy was the Head, Vegetable Breeding at L Dæhnfeldt A/S, Denmark (1994–1997), before becoming Divisional Manager Vegetable Seeds (1997–1998). Between 1986 and 1994, he was a Plant Breeder at Petoseed Co Inc (USA).