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Crafting New Opportunities for a Local Economy One Fiber at a Time

Shearing time at Cider Hill Farm in North Haven Island.  This photo will be featured in the online Maine Fiber Resource Guide.  Photo courtesy of Maine Fiberarts,  Topsham, Maine, <a href="http://www.mainefiberarts.org" rel="nofollow">www.mainefiberarts.org</a>

Shearing time at Cider Hill Farm in North Haven Island. This photo will be featured in the online Maine Fiber Resource Guide. Photo courtesy of Maine Fiberarts, Topsham, Maine

In an age where shopping malls and retail establishments dominate many urban, suburban, and rural neighborhoods, most people’s knowledge about fibers comes from their clothing tags. However, Maine Fiberarts is working hard to change this.

With the help of a grant from the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), this non-profit organization is expanding its effort to promote Maine’s fiber arts industry.  Through a new resource guide, Maine Fiberarts is connecting people to the state’s fiber community – increasing economic opportunities for these farmers, processors, galleries, artists, craftspeople, learning centers and supply shops.

The Maine Fiber Resource Guide connects the fiber community to potential customers by offering contact information, websites and other valuable marketing tidbits.  Soon, the guide will include photographs that showcase the variety of high quality products made in the state.  The hope is that the guide will serve as a go-to source where people can view products in colorful photo libraries, reach out to producers and handlers, and find out where their products are sold.

As part of the grant offered by AMS’s Federal State Marketing Improvement Program, Maine Fiberarts collaborated with the Maine Department of Agriculture to develop its resource guide.  The Federal State Marketing Improvement Program provides matching funds to states so that they can collaborate with organizations like Maine Fiberarts to explore new opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products.  Working with state departments of agriculture and other state organizations, the Federal State Marketing Improvement Program helps strengthen our local communities — the fiber that holds our country together.

A quilt produced by tapestry weaver Barbara Burns of Cundy’s Harbor.  This  tapestry will be featured in the online Maine Fiber Resource Guide.   Photo courtesy of Maine Fiberarts, Topsham, Maine, <a href="http://www.mainefiberarts.org" rel="nofollow">www.mainefiberarts.org</a>

A quilt produced by tapestry weaver Barbara Burns of Cundy’s Harbor. This tapestry will be featured in the online Maine Fiber Resource Guide. Photo courtesy of Maine Fiberarts, Topsham, Maine

Maine Fiberarts used its grant funds to further develop local and regional branding efforts, showcasing the products of the state’s fiber community.  The organization continues to promote the Maine fiber industry as it has now developed an inventory system and addressed other logistical concerns so that it can sell products at major events. At two major events, Maine Fiberarts was able to successfully feature the work of 49 craftspeople and farmers.  The organization paid nearly $5,000 to suppliers for their products while still making a profit and prominently displaying products made in Maine.

While the application period for this year’s Federal State Marketing Improvement Grant Program has closed, we encourage you to visit our grants page to find out about other opportunities available at AMS.  Fiber farmers and organizations supporting them may also want to look at some of our other previously funded projects .

AMS is proud to support local communities and organizations like Maine Fiberarts and hopes that we can continue to help them reach their goals.

One Response to “Crafting New Opportunities for a Local Economy One Fiber at a Time”

  1. Christine Macchi says:

    Thank you so much for highlighting our project in Maine. There are many great fiber artists and farmers in our state. Come visit us in Midcoast Maine and we can send you touring for fleeces, fiber, quilts, knitwear, handmade paper, sheep and learning adventures!
    —Maine Fiberarts

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