Time and Tide looks to the future after staff cuts
Time and Tide, a nonprofit Resource, Conservation and Development (RCD) organization that covers six Maine counties including Waldo, is in the process of re-staffing two positions that were cut after losing federal funding more than a year ago.
Time and Tide, like other RCDs, helps with grassroots projects in sustainable agriculture, aquaculture, forestry, natural resource conservation and alternative energy, said Time and Tide council member Vance Wells. It assists these projects by providing technical expertise and grant-writing help. It also connects individuals to other organizations for support.
In 2011, Wells said, federal budget cuts to the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service program resulted in the loss of federal support for RCD Councils across the country.
The USDA funded a coordinator and an office manager, as well as providing equipment and office space to Time and Tide. That support was eliminated when the NRCS cut the RCDs from its budget.
Time and Tide Chair Paul Miller said that a new office manager has been hired and the group is in the process of hiring a new coordinator. Miller said that Time and Tide, which receives funding support from each county it serves, has been able to save enough money over the years to hire a new coordinator. However, he noted that the position would ultimately have to be funded through additional grants and fundraising efforts.
According to Time and Tide Wells, the organization has helped with a number of Waldo County projects, including Coastal Farms Food Processing, ThorNox Farms and projects with Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition.
"What we do is a lot of the footwork," Wells said. "Historically, we stayed in the background, so most people didn't realized we were involved."
Ron Desrosiers, the former Time and Tide coordinator, who remains employed with USDA, said that he felt the group did good work during the years it partnered with USDA.
"One of the best barometers we had was that all six counties supported us," Desrosiers said. "People are still looking for a Time and Tide-like resource that has the capacity to pull these projects together."
Wells said that Time and Tide has several projects moving forward that a new coordinator would be able to assist, and that the loss of USDA funding could eventually prove to be a positive thing for the organization.
"We don't need the USDA standing over us, pulling the reins," Wells said. "We're going to be completely grassroots. Getting kicked out of the USDA gives us the opportunity to do things we wouldn't do otherwise."