May 30, 2023
CEI Tastemakers Initiative awards $185,000 to Maine Food Harvesters and Producers to Grow and Strengthen Maine’s Local Food System
CEI and FocusMaine name 20 businesses across the state as 2023 awardees
May 30, 2023 (Brunswick, ME) – Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) today announced the names of the twenty Maine food companies across Maine’s food system selected for the 2023 Tastemakers Initiative. Now in its third year, the CEI Tastemakers Initiative is an ongoing partnership between CEI and FocusMaine to support the growth of Maine’s food economy. Since 2020, the Tastemakers Initiative has awarded $377,500 to 32 Maine food companies. Awardees come from a variety of sectors including farms, aquaculture, production facilities and value-added producers that focus on Maine-grown ingredients.
The 2023 Awardees are: A Smallgood in Rockport; Bangs Island Mussels in Portland; Berry Fruit Farm in Livermore Falls; Blackstone Point Oysters in Newcastle; Diggables Inc in Yarmouth; Dogpatch Farm LLC in Washington; Ferda Farms LLC in Brunswick; Fish Creek Oysters in Stonington; Hemlock Raidge Meat Processing in New Sharon; Herbal Revolution in Union; Love Point Oysters in South Freeport; Maine Dayboat Scallops Inc. in Bath; Maine Homestead Inc in Lyman; North Haven Oyster Company in North Haven; Pemaquid Mussel Farms in Bucksport; Ragged Coast Chocolates in Westbrook; Spark Bagel in Monroe; Sunnyfield Baking Co. in Cumberland; The Good Crust LLC in Canaan; and Winterberry Farm in Belgrade.
“The cohort of companies in this year’s Tastemakers Initiative exemplify the variety and richness of Maine’s food businesses. Each of these small businesses are contributing to a more sustainable and resilient food system and we are thrilled to be a small part of their progress,” said Bradley Russell, CEI’s Director of Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Program. “The supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic broadened awareness of the importance of local and regional food systems to the resilience of our overall food system, while environmental impacts continue to create new challenges for harvesters and growers. The success of the local food system depends on the success of the entrepreneurs and small businesses owners doing the hard work of building and scaling their businesses. The Tastemakers Initiative provides well deserved support to these businesses as they scale, create good jobs and support the Maine economy.”
Awardees are established food and beverage companies intending to increase production capacity, with “shovel-ready” projects that directly support Maine agriculture, aquaculture or fisheries as part of their supply chain. As part of the Tastemaker Initiative, cohort members were awarded up to $10,000 per company, with a total of $185,000 distributed across the cohort, to support the following:
- Strategic growth and/or adjustment in light of COVID-19 to meet long term production and capacity goals,
- Facility design, site engineering, process improvement, licensing and permitting,
- Expansion of local supply chains with Maine producers, and/or
- Organizational development, workforce attraction and retention consulting.
“FocusMaine applauds all the Tastemaker Initiative applicants for their dedication to their businesses and their desire to grow. The strong statewide interest in this Initiative is indicative of a vibrant and growing Maine food economy, which is good for the individual businesses, their communities, and the state of Maine,” said Andrea Cianchette Maker, Co-Chair of FocusMaine. “It is an honor to play a role in helping some of these tenacious entrepreneurs grow their businesses and provide food products that are a source of pride for all Mainers.”
Blackstone Point, Nobleboro, and Shuck Station Raw Bar, Newcastle, on the Damariscotta River
“As Blackstone Point Oyster Co. has grown, we’ve recognized the significance of community engagement. How educating the public and spreading general awareness on aquaculture’s positive economic, environmental, and social impacts are now more critical than ever. Through the Tastemaker’s program we’re able to break ground on a new permanent facility that will foster a space for community engagement while also allowing our oyster farm to create more year-round positions.” – Brendan Parsons, Owner
Dogpatch Farm, LLC
“As a small family farm, efficiency is the key to success. With the help of CEI’s Tastemaker Grant to cover a HACCP plan and plumbing and electrical upgrades, we’ll be able to complete our commercial kitchen so that we will be able to add ready to eat pulled pork, Ramen/bone broth and Bolognese sauce to our product list. All of our pigs are born right here and the best way to honor our woodland raised babies is whole animal utilization. This will strengthen the profitability of our farm by appealing to a new customer base with our unique wider range of products and moving toward a zero-waste system.” – Sue Hamel, Owner
Maine Homestead Inc., Lyman
“As a growing Maine business and employer, we are constantly having to change and adapt. Everything from our staff to our facility needs to be able to go with the flow. The Tastemakers Grant from CEI will allow us the training and support to remain flexible as we meet our expanding business needs.” – Krista Gagne, Owner
The Good Crust, Canaan
“The Good Crust is the first Maine-based dough manufacturer to commit to sourcing 100% Maine Grains in its products. As we specialize in bringing healthful, freshly milled whole grains in pizza and bialys to wood-fired pizza establishments, health food stores, schools, hospitals, and summer camps, we strive for the highest standards in food safety. CEI’s Tastemakers Initiative will allow us to afford a 3rd party audit of our Food Safety Plan implementation, as well as achieve Kosher Certification early on in our business growth, opening markets to new customer segments in grocery stores, and culturally focused tourism destinations in Maine. Showcasing the flavors of Maine’s own grain to broader audiences will have a direct economic impact on our state’s 45+ wheat farmers and millers.” – Heather Kerner, Founder, CEO
Diggables, Inc., Yarmouth
“We are a Maine-based company working to pioneer tasty, feel-good snacks from an all-star ingredient—naturally gluten-free buckwheat. We are proud and thankful to be joining an incredible group of Tastemaker awardees. We will use our funding to solidify our web and social media presence to help us reach customers who want to dig deeper to learn how our snacks are supporting regenerative agriculture and the resurgence of Maine’s local grain economy.” – Toby Ahrens, Founder
Pemaquid Mussel Farms, Bucksport
“As a founder and managing member of Pemaquid Mussel Farms, a sustainable shellfish company based in Bucksport, Maine, I appreciate the funds provided by Tastemakers to help us develop a Human Resources program as we expand our operations.” – Carter Newell, Founder
Ragged Coast Chocolates, Westbrook
“We are an established award-winning chocolate confections company led by enthusiastic home cooks. A baking mix line that avails truly exceptional sustainably-produced and directly-traded chocolate – as well as Maine-milled flours and sea salt – to the home cook seemed a natural progression for our maturing company. The Tastemakers grant will go a long way toward spreading the word about this exciting new line of products well beyond the borders of Maine,” said Kate Shaffer, Co-Owner/Founder.
Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) works to build a just, vibrant and climate-resilient future for people and communities in Maine and rural regions by integrating finance, business expertise and policy solutions in ways that make the economy work more equitably. CEI envisions a world in which vibrant, equitable and environmentally sustainable local economies enable all people and communities to thrive. More at www.ceimaine.org
FocusMaine generates opportunity and prosperity by working in partnerships to accelerate Maine’s food economy and bioeconomy, create quality jobs, and build a thriving workforce. For more information, visit www.focusmaine.org.
The Good Crust, Photo Credit: Séan Alonzo Harris