DESIGN OPEN HOUSE; Maine Sustainable Year Round Agriculture (SYRA) Cluster Initiative

Thursday, May 26th 12-5PM

12:30 – 3:00PM 215 Bailey Hall USM, Gorham Campus, 37 College Ave, Gorham, ME (click for directions & map to USM)

3:30 – 5:00PM Little River Flower Farm, 160 Turkey Ln. Buxton, ME (click for map to Little River Flower Farm)

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC – Suggested Dontation, $10 (goes to future outreach events)

The Maine Sustainable Agriculture Society is hosting a Design Open House for farmers, and business innovators in agriculture, renewable energy, cleantech, composites and other related fields. Part 1 will include a year-round agriculture round table, as well as presentations from the SYRA Cluster Initiative. Part 2 will include a site tour of Little River Flower Farm’s newly constructed 140‘ x 45’ integrated photo-voltaic greenhouse.


Part 1 (12:30- 3pm): Maine Year-Round Agriculture Round Table,
215 Bailey Hall, University of Southern Maine, Gorham, ME

12:30  – Welcome and Registration

12:40  – SYRA Agriculture Cluster Initiative Overview – Mark Hews

1:00 – Cluster Key Point Presentations

Sandy Gilbreath, Maine Food Strategy
Tristan Noyes, Maine Sustainable Agriculture Society

1:50 – 2:30 – Maine Year Round Agriculture Round Table – W. Giordano (facilitator)

A participatory discussion of year round agriculture in Maine. We will consider current approaches, existing technology, areas that need further consideration, and how the SYRA Cluster Initiative is both an opportunity and a resource for the food economy, as well as cleantech and renewable energy businesses.

2:30 – SYRA Technical Architect – Tony Kieffer

A discussion of the various SYRA demonstration sites, followed by a presentation of the technical underpinnings of the Little River Greenhouse project. Key technologies that will be discussed include the inclusion of solar panels integrated into the greenhouse, biomass and root zone heating, phase change materials, LED lighting for heat capture and storage.

Part 2 (3:30 – 5pm): CASE STUDY/SITE VISIT: Little River Flower Farm, Buxton, ME

3:45-5:00PM  –  Bruce Stedmam, Little River Flower Farm
Site Tour & Greenhouse Demonstration

For more info and pre-registration please contact:

William Giordano
SYRA Education and Outreach Coordinator

The Sustainable Year-Round Agriculture Project (SYRA) is working across disciplines to advance Maine agriculture towards consistent food production for the entire twelve months of the year. Demonstration sites across the state are now testing new greenhouse and crop production technologies that prioritize a triple-bottom line for farmers and producers. MESAS defines Maine agriculture’s triple bottom line as farmers obtaining a greater share of consumer expenditures for farm products, in a way that implicitly supports a healthy environment and strong communities.  
The Sustainable Year-Round Agriculture (SYRA) Cluster Initiative is bringing together farmers, business innovators, manufacturers and financial partners to create solutions for year-round food production in Maine. The project is building a multi-disciplinary network to create technologies for ultra-efficient, scalable infrastructure and greenhouses in the agriculture, cleantech and manufacturing sectors. The SYRA Cluster Initiative is a result of a partnership between the Maine Sustainable Agriculture Society (MESAS) and MaineAsia, a consulting group in Portland, Maine to integrate solar and composite technologies with Maine agriculture.  The project launched in 2014 when the Maine Technology Institute (MTI) awarded MESAS a $497,280 grant that is being matched 2-to-1 by the project’s participants. Those participants include private and public partners. The SYRA Cluster Initiative is focused on the triple bottom line approach that situates farmers at the front line of economic growth. Year-round strategies are being developed on five research and demonstration sites around the state.
Demonstration Sites
Little River Flower Farm is a 110-acre certified organic farm in Buxton run by Bruce and Nancy Stedman. Little River Flower Farm currently sells produce and flowers year round to markets in Portland, ME. The SYRA Cluster Initiative is working with them to build a prototype ultra-efficient greenhouse that demonstrates a combination of passive heat capture and storage, efficient supplemental “direct-to-soil”, and in ground heating, supplemental LED lighting, solar electric energy production that will help LLFF to maintain a consistent wholesale product list, and year-round labor force 12-months of the year.
Research Focus:
  • Passive solar and carbon fuel heat capture and storage, and Archsolar PV electric system
  • Consistency of production
  • Cost vs. output of supplemental heating/winter product availability
Olivia’s Garden is a year-round hydroponic greenhouse facility operated by Scott Howard in New Gloucester. Scott is as refined and improved his approach to what he calls a “self-contained ecosystem”. He employs plant and insect diversity, instead of chemicals, to keep potential issues in check. SYRA’s work with Olivia’s Garden examines how to further refine a year round controlled ecosystem with developments in artificial lighting and aquaponics.
Research Focus:
  • LED vs High Pressure Sodium lighting
  • Aquaponics
  • Energy Reduction and Profitability

More demonstration sites coming soon…

MTI works with entrepreneurs, innovators, established businesses and institutions conducting research and development to fund and grow, and connect them to resources that will help them commercialize their technologies. Their programs help innovators accelerate progress to the market, leverage additional private and public investment, and ultimately, expand their economic impact in Maine.
MESAS is a farmer-led nonprofit that focuses on helping farms in Maine achieve a triple bottom line regardless of the scale they operate at or the production methods they chose to use. That triple bottom line includes PROFITABLE FARMS, HEALTHY ECOSYSTEMS, and STRONG COMMUNITIES.
Arch Solar develops low cost, high performing integrated solar projects, providing photovoltaic (PV) structures, expertise and financing options to farmers and land owners/developers. Based in Portland, Maine, ArchSolar offers innovative PV project models for farmers and landowners/developers.

Contact Us

Maine Sustainable Agriculture Society   Address: 60 Cassie Lane Poland, ME  04274 Phone: 207-577-0209 E-mail: