The grant is one of four awards from the Maine Technology Institute’s Cluster Initiative Program
BY DOUG HARLOW, STAFF WRITER, MORNING SENTINEL
SKOWHEGAN — The Skowhegan-based Maine Grain Alliance got a boost this week with the announcement of a $50,000 grant from the Maine Technology Institute as one of four high-potential business clusters in Maine.
The award will be used to study grain drying and storage systems on farms in Aroostook County, where 90 percent of the grains processed at the Somerset Grist Mill in Skowhegan are produced, said Amber Lambke, co-founder of the nonprofit Maine Grain Alliance and owner of the grist mill and Maine Grains, a specialty grocery store at the grist mill.
The institute’s Cluster Initiative Program awards were issued for projects supporting Maine’s agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries and food production and Maine’s composites and advanced materials cluster. The money comes with a one-to-one match from the recipient, either in cash or in-kind time or services.
The Maine Grain Alliance, founded in 2007 with the first Kneading Conference, received the award for a feasibility and planning project to inventory existing grain drying and storage and to research technologies and financing options to improve the process.
“The Maine Grain Alliance will spend that money hiring help to investigate Aroostook County farms that need increased amounts of grain storage and grain drying capacity to be able to scale up their grain growing operations,” Lambke said Wednesday. “There has been a lot of work done and attention paid to Aroostook County as a viable place to expand organic grain production to serve food and animal feed.”