Seeking new ways to solve old problems

As mentioned in my previous post, in early September a family vacation took me through Maine and New Brunswick, en route to a week on Prince Edward Island. As usual, all along the way I wondered what the local job market and economic conditions were like.

It’s not as wonky as it sounds. What I’m often thinking is: “Oh, this is pretty! But what could you do for work if you lived here?”

PEI boasts some of Canada’s best beaches and is home to a beloved figure in Canadian literature “Anne of Green Gables“. Beaches and Anne make for a powerful summer-time draw. But it’s a flash in the pan. Many schools in Canada don’t end the year until late June, so high season on PEI pretty much consists of July and August.

After the season on Prince Edward Island. Photo: John A Ryan Photography via Flickr. CC some rights reserved

Once Labor Day rolls around, that circus is largely over.

We went in September on purpose, to skip the crowds. (It was great!) One evening, though, we went out to dine along the central northern coast and could barely find any place open. We did find one seafood restaurant that had about half of the menu left as it was their last night until next summer.

I asked our server, a woman in her early 20′s, what everyone does on the off season. She gave a rueful laugh and said “Well, some go back to school. Some farm. Some fish, but those are limited seasons too. It can be hard.”

There isn’t a lot of seafood to be caught in NCPR’s listening region. But I thought about rural Maine and the people of PEI when I saw this article in the New York Times, about small fisheries trying out the Community Supported Agriculture model.

In this case, the new venture was Port Clyde Fresh Catch, as community supported fishery. (NPR did a feature on this too, back in 2010.)

Speaking to Maine fisherman Glen Libby, the Times article describes how that CSF got going:

Joining forces was hardly an easy sell. “Fishermen are independent,” Mr. Libby said, juggling a cellphone in one hand and a pick for plucking 30 pounds of redfish from an iced bin in the other. “Maybe you don’t like people, so you want to sit out in a boat by yourself. But the whole ‘I want to be the Lone Ranger’ stuff doesn’t work when things get tight, when people are in a lot of financial pain. Then you either have to look for alternatives, or you quit.”

Here’s some text from the “about our CSF” page on the Port Clyde website:

Determined to preserve their heritage, their community and the resources they depend on, the fishermen of Port Clyde have developed the Port Clyde Fresh Catch brand to bring you fresh fish and Maine shrimp harvested from the icy waters of the Gulf of Maine using environmentally conscious fishing methods.

A guarantee of 100% supply-chain traceability starts at harvest, and continues through packaging at our Port Clyde based HAACP-certified processing facility.  Our Community Supported Fishery (CSF) customers, restaurants, and other seafood retailers receive the freshest seafood available.  They know every step of the route it takes from the moment it leaves Maine’s clear waters until it reaches your plate.

Port Clyde Fresh Catch is a return to the traditions of America’s past – fresh, wild caught seafood that our customers can trace to the source.

Is it viable? Can this sort of innovation pump new life into communities that are really challenged to support traditional endeavors? Time will tell.

This post is not intended as an endorsement of a single new venture.

It’s just nice to see new ideas. Media and blogs can be a useful way to get people thinking about what might work in their own corner of the world.

Because where ever you live, you need a way to make a living.

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One Response to “Seeking new ways to solve old problems”

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  1. trek says:

    In our past, we traveled to Ontario’s Provincial Parks (Algonquin, Killarney, Pukasaw, Lake Superior, and Quitico) for canoe camping and touring during the fall. There were always amazing sites and experiences, but we also wondered about what jobs were here, besides the tourism and logging.