History of Mid-Maine Greenhouse Growers Association
In 1986 a small group of greenhouse owners approached the University of Maine's Cooperative Extension about the need for a regional organization to facilitate communication and cooperation among independent greenhouse businesses. Gleason Gray and Donna Lamb, extension educators for Penobscot and Piscataquis Counties respectively, took on the task of getting the Mid-Maine Greenhouse Growers Association off the ground. Initially the group met once a month at Nokomis High School in Newport, with Extension carrying out the mailings and providing organizational framework.
Within a few months the group had attracted a considerable membership and was ready to adopt a constitution and elect officers. After a year of support from Extension, MMGGA assumed full responsibility for its activities.
The primary focus of the group was educational, with invited speakers from governmental, university and commercial backgrounds making each meeting a worthwhile forum. Meetings always ended with a round robin discussion of timely topics among growers.
A secondary focus of the group has been to pool its members' purchasing power and seek better pricing from suppliers to the industry. This has proven quite successful over the years, and has enabled the membership to enjoy greater profitability. Several suppliers have found it worth their while to offer discounted pricing in exchange for a more orderly and predictable purchasing season. Group purchasing remains a vital part of the organization's appeal to its members.
As time passed, it became more and more difficult for MMGGA to continue hosting monthly meetings. Attendance began to drop as some members presumably felt that they had learned most of what they needed to know to run their business. Today the group hosts an annual growers meeting, held at a member's greenhouse operation in late March. A field day is held at Rogers Farm in Stillwater in late August, where members connect, view plant trials and hold a brief business meeting. Membership remains robust and new members especially benefit from the information they gain at our two annual meetings.