Auburn, ME — U.S. Senator Susan Collins visited Blackie’s Farm Fresh Produce in Auburn this morning to meet with owner Matt Manson, employees, and customers. Blackie’s Farm Fresh Produce received a forgivable loan through the Paycheck Protection Program that Senator Collins co-authored to help small employers continue to pay their workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Blackie’s Farm Fresh Produce is a staple in the Auburn community, working with local farmers to ensure that Mainers can safely access fresh produce during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senator Collins. “I am thrilled that Blackie’s was awarded a forgivable PPP loan, which allowed Matt to continue paying his dedicated staff despite disruptions caused by the coronavirus.”
The farm stand was established in 1986 by Normand “Blackie” Labbe Sr and his wife, Jackie. Blackie grew his own produce on his 120 acre farm in Minot, while purchasing from and supporting several farms throughout Maine. Prior to Blackie’s passing in February 2018, he and Matt spoke often of Matt’s desire to purchase the farm stand and continue to grow produce on the farm. The sale was finalized this winter and the farm stand still employs members of Blackie’s family. Matt has worked on Blackie’s farm since he was a teenager.
Earlier this week, Senator Collins announced that Maine farmers have been awarded more than $14 million to date through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to help offset the financial harm they have experienced due to COVID-19. The USDA is continuing to accept applications from farmers through September 11. More information about CFAP and the application process can be found here: Farmers.gov/cfap.