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Bulletin Board

APRIL 19, 2013

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Maine's Right to Know-GMO Labeling Bill

Attend the April 23 Hearing in Augusta

91.1 percent of Mainers support GMO labeling

A public hearing on LD 718, An Act to Protect Maine Food Consumers' Right to Know, is scheduled for Tuesday, April 23, 2013, at 1 p.m., in the Joint Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (ACF) Committee in Room 214, Cross State Office Building, Augusta.

Please join MOFGA from noon to 1 p.m. for a rally and press conference at the Capitol Welcome Center and Breezeway between the Capitol (State House) and the Cross State Office Building. Please bring positive signs and banners.

Let the public and the legislature know that you are among the majority of Maine citizens who want GM foods labeled! A scientific poll of Maine voters by PanAtlanticSMS Group of Portland, just released on April 2, found 91.1 percent of respondents support a labeling requirement for foods containing genetically modified (GM) ingredients. This result is consistent with national polls conducted in recent years and shows massive popular support for GMO labeling in Maine.

At the 1 p.m. hearing, tell the ACF Committee why you want GM foods labeled. Bring 25 copies of your written testimony to give to ACF Committee members. This will make sure we establish a strong foundation for labeling, should Monsanto sue Maine for ensuring its citizens' right to know.  

More information and reasons to testify.

To request to speak at the press conference or rally, or to RSVP that you will be at the public hearing, please email righttoknowgmo@mofga.org, or call 207-949-7371.

Come out on April 23rd to demand the Right to Know!

Join this event on our Facebook page

Our GMO-Right to Know Resources page on mofga.org

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Buy your share of the Maine harvest!

Now is the time to sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share for the coming season.  Find farms near you offering CSA shares with MOFGA's Maine CSA Directory.

Income eligible seniors are entitled to a free $50 Senior Farm Share. More details available from the Get Real Maine website.

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Comments Wanted: Food Safety Modernization Act

Farmers and processors - You still have time (until May 16) to comment on proposed rules for the Food Safety Modernization Act. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition says, "We need to ensure that the regulations work for sustainable and organic farmers, support good conservation practices, and allow value-added food businesses to grow and thrive!" Learn about the Act and how to comment. For background, see Cheryl Wixson's article, "Food Safety Modernization Act - An Update," in the spring 2013 Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), of which MOFGA is a member, has engaged in the Food Safety Modernization Act process with four guiding principles in mind:

1.  Everyone has a role in ensuring a safe food supply.

2.  Regulators should focus on the highest risk.

3.  Regulations should be science-based when possible.

4.  One size does not fit all:  Regulations must be scale-appropriate to be effective; a one-size-fits-all approach will put small farms and processors out of business and undermine other public health goals, such as increased production, availability, and access to healthy foods.

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NRCS Conservation Stewardship Program
The Natural Resources Conservation Service NRCS) is gearing up to announce the cut-off date for farmer applications to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) for enrollment in the program during Fiscal Year (FY) 2013. The National Sustainable Agriculture Program expects that the final signup period will begin later this month and will last for 30 days, or until mid- to-late May. Interested farmers and ranchers will have only 30 days to complete the initial application form to compete for a spot in the 2013 enrollment class for the program. CSP offers technical and financial assistance to farmers for adopting and maintaining high standards of resource conservation and environmental stewardship. Information (PDF).

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Help Protect Agricultural Conservation Funding

Speaking of conservation, in the budget-cutting frenzy of the last two years, Congress slashed conservation programs by over $1.5 billion, says the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Right now, legislators are making decisions about next year's agriculture budget - including conservation. You can help protect crucial conservation funding that supports cleaner waterways, habitat for wildlife, and farms that are more sustainable over the long term by calling Maine Senator Susan Collins' office at (202) 224-2523. Ask to speak with her agriculture appropriations aide, and share a message like this one: "I am a constituent and a voter. (Let them know if you're a farmer, too!) Please ask Senator Collins to protect Farm Bill conservation programs from cuts. Ask her to oppose further cuts in Fiscal Year 2014, and to not limit mandatory funding for Farm Bill conservation programs. We must protect our natural resources and reward farmers for the environmental benefits they produce - please oppose any further cuts to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program, and other Farm Bill conservation programs."

More information. And after you call, please tell tell the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition how it went: alerts@sustainableagriculture.net.

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Loans for Farm Improvements

Maine's Departments of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry are releasing $3 million for agriculture improvements loans. The two departments, in partnership with the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) and the Maine Municipal Bond Bank, have expanded the Nutrient Management Loan Program, developed to fund construction of containment and handling facilities for milk room and manure waste. The DEP-administered Clean Water State Revolving Fund will provide up to $3 million for FAME to finance the loans with farmers able to borrow up to $450,000 at a fixed interest rate of 2 percent for up to 20 years.

For more information on Maine's Nutrient Management Loan Program, visit www.maine.gov/agriculture/narr/ or contact Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry's Nutrient Management Coordinator Mark Hedrich at (207) 287-7608 or mark.hedrich@maine.gov.

For more information on Maine's Clean Water State Revolving Fund, visit www.maine.gov/dep/assistance/grants-loans or contact Maine Department of Environmental Protection Engineering Services Manager John True at (207) 287-7808 or john.n.true@maine.gov.

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Common Ground Country Fair

MOFGA is now accepting applications for Presenters, Entertainers, and exhibitors in the Agricultural Demonstrations, Health & Healing, and Media areas at the Common Ground Country Fair. Links to presenter, entertainer and exhibitor applications and guidelines for participation in the Fair are all available online at www.commongroundcountryfair.com. Look for the "Areas" link to find the application for each area.

Interested in giving a presentation at the Fair? Please submit your proposal online via our Presenter Application.

The application deadline for Presenters and Agricultural Demonstrations, Health & Healing, and Media exhibitors is May 15th. The Entertainment deadline is May 31st. If you need assistance or have questions, please contact April at 568-4142 or commonground@mofga.org

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Job Openings at MOFGA!

- Executive Director

- Volunteer Coordinator

- 2013 Fair Assistant
The Common Ground Country Fair is looking for a resourceful and creative individual to join our team this spring as the Fair Assistant for the 2013 Fair. If you have experience organizing live events, large gatherings, campaigns, or other endeavors featuring a grand culmination after months of planning and work; working with volunteers to accomplish a complex project; computer skills that include a friendly relationship with website content management, databases, Excel and Adobe InDesign; the willingness to learn new systems and programs; and the capacity to prioritize in a bustling workplace teeming with distractions, we would love to hear from you. To apply, submit a cover letter and resume in PDF format via email with the subject line "Fair Assistant Job Position" to Jim Ahearne at jahearne@mofga.org.

Please see our Employment Opportunities page for full details.

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Maine School Garden Network

The Maine School Garden Network was recently awarded a USDA Specialty Crop Grant, which allowed it to hire its first staff member, who has begun outreach to school garden programs, has updated the website, and taken up grant-writing tasks. The network is in the process of transitioning to an official 501(c)3 organization. The Network will host a School Garden Open House in September. Anyone interested in joining the board or helping with individual projects is encouraged to contact the group. For information, see www.msgn.org, email info@msgn.org, or call MSGN's chair, Kat Coriell, at 926-3047.

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Congratulations to T. Garin and Sarah Smith of Grassland Organic Farm in Skowhegan for being awarded the Gold Quality Recognition honor from Organic Valley for milk quality - for the second year in a row. To achieve the Gold Award for milk quality, recipients needed an average somatic cell count of less than 100,000, a standard plate count average below 20,000, a preliminary incubation count averaging less than 30,000 and a laboratory pasteurized count average below 100. Read more.


Mark Your Calendar

April 19 - Film: A Place at the Table. Exclusive area screening. Friday, 7 p.m., historic Bangor Opera House, home of the Penobscot Theatre, 131 Main St. Bangor. $8, tickets available at the door or buy online. Panel discussion after the film includes MOFGA-certified organic farmer Paul Volckhausen. Information and movie trailer.

MOFGA Organic Orcharding Workshops

April 20, April 27

A series of workshops, covering theory and hands-on practice in organic fruit tree and orchard management. Designed for beginner to intermediate orchardists managing backyard plantings to larger orchards. Pre-registration is required for all workshops. Information.

Earth Day Volunteer Work Day at MOFGA's Common Ground Education Center in Unity, Maine
Sunday, April 21, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Volunteers are needed for the following projects:
- Transplanting Korean nut pines
- Cleaning, raking and mulching gardens
- Light carpentry
The work day will take place rain or shine, so participants are asked to dress appropriately. Volunteers should bring work gloves and favorite garden tools. A hearty organic lunch will be provided as well as volunteer T-shirts for all participants. For more information or to RSVP for the work day, please contact Joe Dupere, Landscape Coordinator at MOFGA, or at volunteers@mofga.org or call 568-4142.

April 21 & 28 - Basic chainsaw safety class. Sundays, 9 am to 4 pm, Hidden Valley Nature Center, Jefferson. Two-day class for those new to chainsaws, especially designed for women who want to use chainsaws. Includes light maintenance and troubleshooting. Co-sponsored by MOFGA, which offers some scholarships (amarshall@mofga.org). $140 ($130 for HVNC, SWOAM and MOFGA members). 586-6752, gary@hvnc.org or www.hvnc.org.

April 24 - Waldo Organic Growers meeting. Wednesday, MOFGA's Common Ground Education Center. 6:00 p.m. Potluck (please bring table service as well as food to share); 7:00 p.m. Speaker: Michael Gendreau of Maine Community Health Options will speak about health insurance and the Affordable Care Act.

April 27 - Cancer Prevention and Treatment with Herbs and Whole Foods, with nurse practitioner and herbalist Kristina King. Saturday, 10 to noon, Avena Botanicals, Rockport, Maine. Part of the "Our Living Earth, Living Soul Series," four talks about herbs to honor and raise funds in memory of Russell Libby. The speakers are donating their time, and all proceeds go directly to the Russell Libby Memorial Fund. Classes are by donation only, with suggested donations of $5 to $500. Pre-registration is encouraged but not required. For information and registration call Avena Botanicals at 207-594-0694.

April 27 - MOFGA's Organic Orcharding Workshop: Orcharding 101. Co-sponsored by Cultivating Community and Portland Resilience Hub. $40 for members, $50 for non-members. Cape Elizabeth. Led by Michael Phillips, author of The Apple Grower, on organic pest control. Please bring a bag lunch, course will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Information.

April 27 - 19th Annual HOPE Festival. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Student Recreation & Fitness Center, University of Maine, Orono. Visit the MOFGA booth! Poster (PDF, 2.7 MB). Information.

Empty Bowl Supper
April 27 - 6 p.m., Belfast. Please join the MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee for its annual fundraiser - the Empty Bowl Supper - at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Miller Street in Belfast. Tickets are $15 at the door ($35 maximum for families). Get a beautiful, Maine-crafted bowl, fill it with delicious soup, and enjoy the company of about 100 MOFGA friends and supporters while listening to Tom Luther and Mike Whitehead of Algorithm play jazz, ambient and improvised music. We’ll have a brief update on Salvadorans' work to stop gold mining.

April 27 and 28 - Beekeeping Class at MOFGA.
8:30 am to 4:00 pm both days, MOFGA Common Ground Education Center, 294 Crosby Brook Road, Unity. Led by Christy Hemenway, author of The Thinking Beekeeper, A Guide to Natural Beekeeping in Top Bar Hives. Tuition $150 before April 15th, $175 thereafter. Organic/Natural/Local breakfast and lunch are included in tuition. Meet and greet and eat breakfast at 8:30 am each day. Class will run from 9am to noon. Lunch will go from noon to 1. Class resumes from 1 to 4. Information and registration.

April 28 - The Maine Food System. Monday, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Belfast Free Library, Abbott Room, 106 High St., Belfast. How local food councils expand the local economy, support our farmers, and put more healthy food on our plates. Speaker: Dr. Mark Lapping of the Maine Food Strategy. Learn more at mainefoodstrategy.org. Information from Ridgely Fuller at 508-333-6230 or ridgelyfuller@gmail.com.

Sugarbush Maintenance and Improvement
May 2, MOFGA & Kinney's Sugarhouse

Join the Maine Forest Service and the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association's (MOFGA) Low Impact Forestry Project for a full day of presentations and site visits highlighting the silviculture and business of managing for maple syrup. Please contact Morten Moesswilde of the Maine Forest Service at 441-2895 or morten.moesswilde@maine.gov for more information. To register for the Sugarbush Management workshop on May 2, 2013 please go to http://www.maine.gov/doc/mfs/fpm/forester_institute/workshop_reg.html. You may also register by calling the Maine Forest Service at 207-287- 2791 or 1-800-367-0223.

MOFGA's Chainsaw Safety, Level I
May 4, Cambridge, Me., 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
May 19, Bethel, Me., 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Come join us May 4th in Cambridge, Maine, or May 19th in Bethel, Maine. This one-day course covers all the fundamentals of safe and effective chainsaw operation. Whether you are an aspiring logger, woodlot manager, or plan to use a chainsaw occasionally this course is invaluable. The chainsaw is an amazingly powerful tool, and without proper training and knowledge it can be a very dangerous tool. Work with our highly skilled instructors for the day and learn to use your chainsaw safely. Register at the online MOFGA Store.

May 28 - Conservation Farm Tour. 4 p.m., Goranson Farm, Dresden. View the farm's reduced tillage techniques and learn how to improve your soil health. RSVP to Katy Green: kgreen@mofga.org.

July 25 and 26 - 2013 Kneading Conference and 5th Artisan Bread Fair, Skowhegan, Maine. 30 workshops, talks, and panel discussions for everyone interested in local grains, craft breads, wood-fired ovens, and restoring regional grain networks. $300 includes (delicious!) meals. Information.

Low Impact Forestry Level II, Draft Animal Logging
July 26-28, Bethel, Me.

This 3-day workshop builds on the skills that students developed in the Level I Draft Power Logging Workshop. Students are expected to have completed LIF's Level I course, or be able to demonstrate equivalent experience. Register at the online MOFGA Store.

Many other events are posted on MOFGA's on-line Calendar.


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