Local Food

The Greater Portland region is proud of  its national standing as one of the country’s premier “foodie” destinations. GPCOG and its many partners have contributed to the expansion of Maine’s food industry by supporting food businesses in the startup and scale-up phases.

In 2014, the Greater Portland Region received one of twelve U.S. Department of Commerce designations as an Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership region. This designation attracted $48 million for catalyst projects that will help double the region’s food manufacturing employment over 10 years.

As part of this effort, GPCOG helped create the Portland Region Food Foundry. The organization convenes food-industry executives, entrepreneurs,  and investors to create a food-focused ecosystem that connects agriculture and fisheries with the businesses that can accelerate their mutual growth.

The Portland Region Food Foundry Fund

The Portland Region Food Foundry Fund provides loans to food and beverage manufacturing startups and scale-ups looking to jump start their businesses and create jobs for the region.

More than $500,000 in loan funding is available to the region’s growing food and beverage sector. Only one loan application is needed to be considered for funding from The Greater Portland Council of Governments (GPCOG), the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) and the City of Portland.

For more information contact Chris Hall at chall@gpcog.org

In 2017, GPCOG was awarded a  $500,000 USDA Grant to lead a group of regional partners to boost the productivity of Portland’s foodshed through the Scaling for Growth initiative. It will help farms, fisheries and food producers within a 100-mile radius of Portland launch a virtual marketplace for crop surplus and food “seconds”. 



Scaling for Growth in the Portland Foodshed

A 3-year collaborative project that serves Portland’s Foodshed by developing relationships and connectivity within a closed loop local food system.

The Problem
The Portland area foodshed is characterized by an insufficient distribution network and a lack of processing infrastructure that, if addressed, could place millions of pounds of surplus fresh food from local farms in processing kitchens, institutions, and retail markets to feed people and boost the local economy.

The Solution
A $500,000 USDA Local Food Promotion Grant to support the state’s food economy has been awarded to 7 local businesses and is being facilitated by the Greater Portland Council of Governments. In collaboration with Spoiler Alert, a technology matching 300+ entities around the country with surplus food, these businesses will collaborate on creating a closed system to maximize the flow of local food from farms while reducing food loss and waste within a 100-mile radius around Portland.

The Project
Scaling for Growth in the Portland Foodshed is a 3-year collaborative systems infrastructure project that will place $7.5 million of locally grown crops in retail, wholesale, light processing, and value-added markets, with a focus on getting more local food and surplus crops into the mainstream food system.

The Goal
Our goal is to capture value at each step of the food production process, reducing on-farm food loss and engaging farmers in production planning. Project partners will build stronger distribution networks and market relationships to serve as the foundation for sustainable growth: reducing food left in fields by 20% and increasing local food production by 10% by 2020.

The Plan
Over the course of 3 years (2017-2020), this collaborative effort will build a network of more than 900 entities including farms, processing kitchens, retail markets, institutional kitchens and value-added processing entrepreneurs to directly increase production and consumption of local foods.




Farm Services


On-Farm Consulting, CYON
We will provide assistance for 15 select farms to scale up through sustainable growth strategies and efficient business models. Farms interested in this service should visit the website for the application.
Contact: jamien@cyonsolutions.com ; www.cyonsolutions.com/scaling-for-growth

On-Farm Surplus Harvest, Whole Crops
A trained food rescue team will visit 5 select farms to measure and assess opportunities for surplus crop left in-field; harvesting and sorting edible/inedible produce and reporting back to farms.
Contact: hannahmsemler@gmail.com ; www.wholecrops.com/foodrescue

Surplus Marketing, Spoiler Alert
You will have access to Spoiler Alert, an app that lets you send quick blasts to your entire network of buyers to let them know when you have extra produce (including seconds) that you’d like to move.
Contact: maine@spoileralert.com ; www.spoileralert.com/farms

Light Processing, CYON/Whole Crops
We will be piloting commercial light processing and co-packing of select crops including pre-cutting and freezing.
Contact: jamien@cyonsolutions.com

Route Optimization Services, Cultivating the New Economy
We will create transportation and storage asset maps for 15 farms to optimize delivery routes and a well-managed supply chain.
Contact: cultivatingtheneweconomy@gmail.com

We are moving forward and you can join us! 

Just fill out the intake survey and our program partners will be in touch to bring you into this dynamic network.



Cultivating the New Economy
CYON Business Solutions
The Farm Stand
Fork Food Lab
Portland Food Co-op
Portland Region Food Foundry
Rosemont Market & Bakery
Spoiler Alert
Whole Crops

Special Projects Associate Nathan Broaddus can provide more information on the Scaling for Growth in the Portland Foodshed initiative. You can reach Nathan at nbroaddus@gpcog.org.