Dana Perry, VP of Human Resources at Backyard Farms in Madison, ME discussed the progrss their organization has made in the tomato industry in 3 short year of operation.
Rotary Meeting for Monday, January 4, 2010 held at the Alfond Youth Center - Here is a recap in case you missed our meeting!

Sergeant at Arms


Tim Beals served as our Sergeant of Arms today. Thanks, Tim!!!!!



Frank Prelgovisk was our -Greeter today. Thank you Frank!! Tonya Clark will be our Greeter for the January 11th meeting.

50/50 Tickets


Frank Prelgovisk and Lucille Zelenkewich sold $106 for the 50/50 raffle today and Doug Legg was the winner of $53. Dog will sell tickets on January 4th. Kim Lindlof won 10 free tickets for next meeting's 50/50 drawing.

World Service Cup


The beneficiary of the donations for this month's World Service Cup will be Project W.I.S.E. Zambia in order to fulfill our commitment to this organization.

Fined for pictures in the Paper


There were no Rotarian pictures in the paper this week.

Cell Phones


A $10.00 fee for cell phone ringing continues for the 2008-2009 Club year. No fines assessed today.

On Leave


Cam McKay

Joan Phillips-Sandy

Paul LePage

Visiting Rotarians and Guests


Steve Kelleher introduced his son, Tom, who is visiting for the holidays from California.

Barbara Haynes introduced Dana Perry, Vice President for Human Resources at Backyard Farms in Madison.

What can you do?


* Tell Board Members what you are passionate about for community projects

* Tell the program committee about interesting speakers/topics you would like to listen to

* Be involved, join a committee

* Be active

* Be positive

Happy Dollars


Ken Vlodek had three Happy Dollars to share today ...... 1) Lynn Twitchell from W.I.S.E. Zambia was not able to be with us when we presented the $17,500 check for their project. He shared that he received a note from her indicating that the funds have been transferred to the school and they are beginning to purchase the items for the school. As requested, they will be providing us with a report this spring; 2) he received a pair of snowshoes over the holidays and this week went trekking out on the Quarry Road Trail. They had a great time and he noted that the trails were packed because it was Family Day. Ken was very complementary about how well the area has been developed; 3) Last week he got a call from Sally who, unfortunately involved in a car accident where she was rear ended. Injuries were minor because of the size of her vehicle. He also shared that had she not been the one hit, the micro car in front of her would have sustained some serious damage.

Jerry Tipper was happy about 3 days of great ice boating. Now that the ice boating season is passed, Ken and others will need to wait another year for their turn. Jerry also wanted the group to know how happy he is that after 43 years in the club, it has become so diverse in its membership, drawing a contrast with the composition of the club in 1956.

Seth Sherwood thanked the club for approving his Board nominations last week. He shared that he's looking forward to a great year beginning in July.

Gary Hammond wished everyone a Happy New Year. He's also very happy that this week, he and Martha are heading to Florida to spend some time working on a new condo they recently acquired.

Paula Mitchell shared that last year Don Borman, on behalf of the Borman Family Foundation, approached her and asked about what projects she had on her plate that needed support. After discussion, they settled on the development of a Spay/Neutering Clinic, which is about to open. Paula expressed her thanks to Don for this support. She also indicated that this week, Scott Bullock and Lisa Hallee also delivered a used anesthesia machine which will be ideal for this project. Thanks to MaineGeneral Health for this additional support! Finally, Paula shared a heartfelt good bye to Clyde Wheeler, who had been a member of her Board.

Sue Guigere shared that over the holidays she and her husband needed to head out of town for the birth of their new grandson and as such she could not be here to assist with the float Care and Comfort had in the Kringleville Parade in Waterville. Sue expressed sincere thanks to Gary Hammond and his folks for their assistance getting the float finished.

Sharon Abrams was very happy for a wonderful 2009 in which the Maine Home for Little Wanderers served the needs of over 1,000 children. She thanks those present who had a part in this effort. She shared that she was very happy to feel her hair blowing in the wind as she crossed the parking lot this morning.

Kim Hawkes shared information about the Kids and Cameras program that they are continuing this year. The pictures that will be taken will be on display April 9-11, 2010. Kim also shared that last year several photos went on to national expositions.

Bill Thompson thanked the club for its support of the bell ringing this year. Bill reported that during our shifts, we accounted for $1,932. He also shared that he and his wife took a week vacation which they enjoyed very much. Finally, he wished everyone a Happy New Year.

Frank Prelgovisk shared his thankfulness for having some wonderful grand children who are achieving some great accomplishments in swimming. He noted that this was due, in part, to the Dolphins Swim Team program here at the Alfond Youth Center.

The Heritage House employees shared six Happy Dollars to thank the club members for their Christmas gift and wished everyone a Happy New Year.

Bill Arnold shared that this is the 44th anniversary of his and Tim Terry's first meeting as new members of the Waterville Rotary Club.

Sarah Sugden had several Happy Dollars ...... 1) that Madeline has learned a new word: BOOK; 2) a thank you to her husband for fixing the several things that broke over the holiday ...... the furnace, the care, and the sink; 3) and finally, that she is here in Waterville, doing what she likes to do and helping to make a difference and make this a better community. She shared that she is looking forward to doing this for many, many years to come. Finally, she shared that Tom Kelleher (Steve's guest) is a former Waterville Library employee.



There were no announcements today.

Upcoming speaker schedule:


January 11, 2010 Scott Bullock, President and CEO of MaineGeneral Health

Waterville Rotary Club Web Site



Today's Program: An Overview of Backyard Farms in Madison, ME (Dana Perry, Vice President, Backyard Farms in Madison)

Barbara Haynes introduced Dana Perry, Vice President of Human Resources at Backyard Farms in Madison. Dana came to Backyard Farm with many years' human resources experience in the Maine business industry.

Dana shared the following information about the Backyard Farms organization and their growth in Maine during their brief presence here.

Key Facts:

* Started construction in 2006. First tomatoes shipped in 2007.

* The main facility has 43 acres of growing space (25A in Year 1, 18A added in 2009)

* 200 miles of heating pipes.

* 34 miles of gutters.

* 200M gallons of water used per year.

* 4.4M sq. ft. of glass.

* 460K drips and 70 miles of water pipes.

* 1,2M tomato plants (320K in year 1 ....double each year).

* They harvest 700 rows twice a week.

* 11.520 grow lights that produce 15,000 lux ..... more than the infield at Fenway Park.

Why is Backyard Farms different?

* They are local to New England and don't ship farther than they can deliver in a day's drive.

* They only sell what they grow (don't import).

* They don't enhance growth of their products. Pollinate with their own bumble bees.

* Hannaford is their largest buyer (5M pounds per year).

* 40% of what they grow stays in Maine.

* 175 FTEs plus seasonal and temporary staff. FT positions have full benefits. Several employees have returned to Madison to work. 3 employees are Dutch and have significant experience working with this model in the Netherlands.

* Payroll is $5M

* Employer multiplier ....Backyard Farms is responsible for 1 job for every 3 they create (trucking/shipping, electrical contracting, construction, human resources/payroll support, banking, and legal)

Future Plans:

* Phase 1 --> 24 Acres; Phase 2 --> 18 Acres; Phase 3 --> 30 Acres

* R & D Greenhouses in Southern Maine.

* Currently use propane for heat. Planning on using wood in the future.

Dana described for the club the production process which includes acquisition of plants, fertilizing, harvesting, packing and shipping. He noted that they do not use chemicals except in unique and extreme circumstances to address specific issues.


1. How do you compete with other areas of the industry? They don't have the transportation costs that other segments of the industry (from away) have. Also, because of location in Madison, it's cheaper to heat the facility than cool it. Therefore, because there are less days to cool, their energy costs in this area are less.

2. How did the tomato blight affect you? Didn't have much of an effect. It had more of an impact on field grown tomatoes.

3. Are there seasonal peaks? No. They maintain their crops so that there is minimal gaps between old and new crops.

4. What do you do with snow? Heat and melt it. Divert the water to holding tanks for future use.

5. What is your source of electricity? Solar? Wind? Neither. Currently using propane but looking to move towards wood and co-generation.

6. What's the life of a vine? 9 months.

7. Do you do tours? No. Basically concerned about bringing in outside diseases, etc.

8. How did Madison get into the picture? 1) The owners had some positive experiences with workers in Aroostook County, so, that got their attention; 2) the willingness of Madison Electric to provide an unlimited source of electricity art favorable rates; and 3) the availability of land.

9. Are your tomatoes organic? No. BYF uses some chemicals (approved for green house use) when they have to. Otherwise, they use natural pest control.

10. Where will you expand? In New England, Madison will serve that primary market. If the model gets traction and there is demand, they will build in that location rather than try to service it from Maine.

11. Does Hannaford resell the product? No.

12. What's the shelf life of the tomatoes? Once picked, they only keep them in their facility 24 to 48 hours. Once in the store (or home) they should be good for 2 to 3 week. Recommended NOT refrigerating them.

13. Who owns Backyard Farms? Fidelity Investments (Boston).

14. What's your market share? 40%.

15. Is there a possibility of you doing other vegetable products? Probably not. If they did, it would probably be with cucumbers.

16. Why don't you plant from seed? It's too time consuming to grow them. More efficient to purchase from their supplier in Ontario.

After his presentation, Sarah presented Dana with a certificate noting that 5 children will receive polio vaccinations in his name as a token of appreciation and with the thanks and best wishes of the Club.