GrowSmart Maine has broadened partnerships and expanded capacity to offer even more direct support to Maine communities. Here’s an update on programs and resources that may be helpful to planners and others working to improve their communities.


Planning for Agriculture is a collaboration between American Farmland Trust (AFT) and GrowSmart Maine to make farm viability and farmland protection an integral part of land use planning. The initiative is a response to the alarming rate of farmland loss in Maine and across America. Maine lost almost 150,000 acres, or 10%, of its farmland between 2012 and 2017 largely due to “low-density residential development” or sprawl.

GrowSmart works with local communities to assess and protect farming resources, and encourage development to locate in existing village centers. Planning for Agriculture strategies promote local businesses and farmers’ markets, help to create resilient local food networks, and support access to healthy, locally-grown food for families. These strategies, coupled with protecting farmland and reducing sprawl, can also have a positive fiscal impact on town and municipal budgets.

Planning for Agriculture efforts are focused on:

1) Advocacy at the local and state levels to advance legislation, planning solutions, and other measures that help safeguard farmland and farm viability.

2) Convening partners and channeling resources to amplify smart growth and farm community voices in town and municipal planning processes.

3) Helping local communities and citizen planners integrate farm viability and farm protection strategies in comprehensive plans and land-use ordinances by making relevant tools and guidance readily available.



Municipalities are increasingly seeking ways to adapt to current and projected climate change impacts. Building resilience to climate change will help communities protect lives and property, along with supporting quality of life and a thriving economy now, and in the future.

Through the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future (GOPIF), GrowSmart Maine helps communities enroll in the Community Resilience Partnership. Once enrolled, communities may apply directly for grants from GOPIF to support projects that reduce energy use and costs, and make their community more resilient to climate change effects, such as flooding, extreme weather, drought, and public health impacts. GrowSmart Maine is currently working with the towns of Mount Vernon and Vienna and is available to support other towns for future rounds of grants.

COMMUNITY RESILIENCE RESOURCES: Building Resilient Communities.


GrowSmart Maine has provided technical assistance to the comprehensive planning process in Bowdoinham, focused on strategies to address immediate and long term needs in housing and agriculture. Bowdoinham is situated within commuting distance to major employers and service centers and development pressure is expected to continue to increase, threatening significant farmland.

Building on this work, GrowSmart Maine was awarded a service provider grant from the Department of Economic and Community Development’s Housing Opportunity Program. The grant allows GrowSmart Maine to demonstrate farmland protection as a key component of the ongoing state and federal focus on increasing affordable housing. In addition to technical assistance, GrowSmart will develop educational resources that will be available statewide, including working with the Hancock County Planning Commission (HCPC) to develop resources on Sustainable Siting of New Housing.


Bowdoinham Land Use Forum


GrowSmart Maine (GSM) hosts the Kennebec Broadband Partnership, a program of the Maine Connectivity Authority. This partnership supports broadband infrastructure projects, and digital equity and literacy projects to connect residents in Kennebec County. It is one of thirteen Regional and Tribal Broadband programs in the state.

The partnership seeks to create alignment and coordination between communities, regions, and the state for broad-band connectivity. In addition, this program advances digital equity and literacy for people in the county. Digital equity is a condition where all individuals and communities have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in our society, democracy, and economy. Digital equity is necessary for civic and cultural participation, employment, lifelong learning, and access to essential services.

With support from the Kennebec County Digital Equity Working Group, GSM created a regional Kennebec County Digital Equity Plan, determining the connectivity, device, and learning needs of people with low income, people with different abilities, the elderly, veterans, rural residents, and people with low-literacy or learning English. This plan is part of Maine’s Digital Equity Plan, which serves as a five-year road map to bring the economic, health, educational, and social benefits of high-speed internet to all Mainers.

In 2024, the program will implement digital literacy programs across the region and promote access to affordable internet and devices and regional broadband solutions.



GrowSmart Maine’s Community Guides provide information designed to help communities understand some of the issues around managing sustainable growth, and outline techniques and resources to help towns in their planning efforts. Some of the topics covered include: Accessory Dwelling Units, Planning for Downtown Development, Historic Preservation, Planning for Agriculture, Regional Collaboration for Climate Action, Smart Transportation Choices, and Environmentally Sensitive Design. Be sure to check out all 18 Community Guides on the GrowSmart Maine website under Resources.


Contributed by:

Harald Bauer Bredesen, Program Director, GrowSmart Maine

Harald Bredesen joined GrowSmart in February 2023 as Program Director. Bredesen will support communities navigating change by convening to action, sharing thought leadership, and advocating in line with smart growth principles. His work will include leading community outreach to integrate smart growth principles in municipal planning processes.


Hildie Lipson, Kennebec Broadband Partnership Coordinator

Hildie Lipson joined GrowSmart in February 2023 as the Kennebec Broadband Partnership Coordinator. Lipson leads digital inclusion efforts while providing support for community and regional-scale broadband infrastructure solutions and investments as part of GrowSmart’s Regional & Tribal Broadband Partnership, an initiative of the Maine Connectivity Authority.