Tuesday June 05, 2012 | 10:35 AM

See those dollar bills in that woman's hand? They're helping create jobs in Maine.

In the case of the above photo, the direct beneficiary is farmer Mohamed Abukar, of Fresh Start Farms, who is pictured selling his organic vegetables at the South Portland Farmers Market with help from his daughters Isho Maalim and Miriam Abdirahman.

This afternoon, policy makers, municipal leaders, nonprofit executives, food experts and members of the public will gather at USM's Wishcamper Center in Portland for a free workshop called "Local Foods and the Maine Economy." The meeting is being hosted by Sustain Southern Maine, a partnership of more than 35 Cumberland and York county municipalities and non-profit organizations.

The event will begin with a panel discussion featuring Amanda Beal, of the Eat Local Foods Coalition of Maine, John Piotti, of the Maine Farmland Trust, and Dr. Mark Lapping, of the Muskie School of Public Service.

The goal of the event is to develop specific public policy proposals that can increase the amount of food produced in Maine. This builds on work that Maine and the other New England states began in 2010 to increase the amount of food grown in the region. That work suggested that by 2050, 80 percent of the locally produced food in New England could come from Maine.

The session takes place from 3 to 5 p.m. today in Lee Community Hall in the Wishcamper Center on USM's Portland campus. The event is open to all and there's no need to pre-register.

About the Author

Meredith Goad has harvested oysters on the Chesapeake Bay, eaten reindeer in Finland and sipped hot chai in the Himalayas. She writes the weekly Soup to Nuts column and enjoys a good cocktail.

Meredith can be contacted at 791-6332 or mgoad@pressherald.com
On Twitter: @meredithgoad

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