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Insights A new study by a University of Maine economist estimates the cost of preventable, environmentally related childhood illnesses in Maine

Local long stems

A bouquet of cut flowers can say so much, so beautifully. And now with help from University of Maine Cooperative Extension researchers and Master Gardeners, farmers in the state are able to convey those messages – and more.

For the past five years, Barbara Murphy of Oxford County Extension has studied the economic viability, necessary growing conditions and best varieties for Maine farmers interested in growing cut flowers. In 2007, she was joined by Gleason Gray of Penobscot County Extension.

“Research has shown the crop has tremendous potential; there’s a high dollar-per-square-foot return,” Murphy says. “It’s a crop many growers can do to complement their other crops.”

Early trials demonstrated the benefits of growing flowers in hoop houses to extend Maine’s growing season. Also piloted was a solar energy collection system for warming the soil.

Now Murphy and Gray are branching out into vegetables with research comparing greenhouse- and field-grown varieties.

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May/June 2009

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