Food Systems Expertise

“The local food sector in Maine is positioned for unprecedented growth. The ‘growing edge’ is our metaphor for this time of change, when farms, fishermen and food businesses are embracing risk, innovation and entrepreneurship in order to expand and drive the sector forward. At CEI, we listen to our clients and try to provide the advice and financing they need to scale up, effectively pushing that edge further out.”

— Gray Harris, Senior Program Director, Natural Resource Sectors

Working landscapes and waterfronts have defined Maine’s rural communities for generations. Resilience, deep connection to place, hard work, and abiding respect for natural resources are all hallmarks of our enduring economic traditions. It is no surprise that food is central to this story, and the foundation of so many rural and coastal livelihoods.

CEI has been at the forefront of this $2 billion-and-growing food economy throughout its forty-year history.  However, even with the exciting progress made in the local food economy over the past 10 years the work remains challenging, and entrepreneurs must be as scrappy as ever.  We are no strangers to hard work, willingly rolling up our sleeves to help Maine’s food businesses, on land and sea, grow and thrive.

CEI’s food systems staff provides free sector expertise to food businesses and helps them access the very best financing available. We connect them to additional business resources that will stick with them as they grow and face the challenge of meeting consumer demand while harnessing the power of nature to produce food on land and sea.

Since 2010, CEI’s impact has been substantial:

  • Over 400 food businesses—from farms, to fisheries, aquaculture, value added producers, processors, distributors, to retailers—have received business technical assistance to improve their viability.
  • $30.3 Million in loans and equity investments into over 210 businesses, leveraging an additional $81.7 Million of other partner capital for a total of over $112 Million to the Maine food economy.   
  • 9,500 acres of farmland maintained in production and 7,400 feet of shoreline frontage preserved for working waterfront.
  • 2065 Maine people have found or maintained employment in farms, fisheries, aquaculture and other food system businesses with CEI support.

We work alongside the entrepreneurs who are creating and innovating, bringing us food and fish we want to eat and building communities we want to live in. We work with investors to align their capital with their impact goals.  We invite you to come work with us to achieve our goals of a robust Maine food economy.

View CEI’s Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems brochure here.

View CEI’s Fisheries and Aquaculture brochure here.