In Maine, a farmer and scientist collaborate, creating a plan that adapts to climate change

The Climate Adaptation Fellowship helps small farms across the Northeast prepare for the future
By Jocelyn Ruggiero Globe correspondent, August 2, 2022
WINDHAM, Maine — Bumbleroot Organic Farm co-owner Melissa Law and climate resilience specialist Sarah Simon of the Maine Farmland Trust walk shoulder to shoulder through tall grass in the field that marks the outermost edge of Law’s farm. They speak quickly, sometimes laughing, sometimes intensely, catching up in the shadow of a row of towering pines that stretches 1,000 feet toward a pollinator meadow and beyond that, dense forest.

In front of the pines, in sharp contrast, are four long rows of newly and strategically planted perennials, 400 in total. Although most were only about 6 inches when they went into the ground in April, some already peek above their knee-high, blue cylindrical plant shelters. The 12 species of woody, bushy perennials will mature at varying heights. It will take more than 20 years for the American Mountain Ash, American Plum, and Redbud closest to the pines to grow to their full height of 25 feet, while the Indian Currant in the row farthest from the pines will reach its 5-foot maturity in just two to three years.

Together, these perennials form a hedgerow that will help break the winds that pummel Bumbleroot’s four upper fields year-round, slowly and steadily eroding their nutrient-rich topsoil. The hedgerow fulfills one of numerous climate adaptation and mitigation goals Law and Simon set in 2021 during their collaboration as participants in The Climate Adaptation Fellowship, an ambitious peer-to-peer learning program that paired 37 fruit and vegetable farmers and agricultural advisers from eight states across the Northeast. This growing season, farmers in the region, like regions across the country, once again contend with dramatic weather conditions that impact their crops and, consequently, the food that surrounding communities not only cherish but rely upon. Read Full Article.