|Avena's herb garden. English photo.
Avena Botanicals: First Certified Biodynamic Farm in Maine
By Jean English
Over nearly three decades, Avena Botanicals in Rockport, Maine, steadily has grown a 3-acre garden, a business and a reputation for quality herbal products – teas, tinctures, salves and more – all from 1,000 pounds of fresh, hand-harvested herbs.
Forever Farms: Protecting Maine’s Agricultural Heritage
By Jo Anne Bander
Driving by the pastures, farms and orchards of rural Maine or along the more urban Route 90 in Rockport, a simple green and white round sign saying “Forever Farm” catches the eye. A program of Maine Farmland Trust (MFT), each sign designates one of more than 100 farms in Maine that has permanently protected its land.
Jack London: Organic Farm Pioneer
By John Koster
Superstitious windjammer sailors once believed that mentioning the word “pigs” was bad luck, but for some Duroc Jerseys at Glen Ellen, California, one old-time windjammer sailor was very good luck indeed. Jack London’s “Pig Palace” was one of the final high points of his farming career.
Acorn Bread: Ten Easy Steps to Feed Your Family and Change the World
By Chris Knapp
In autumn, all over the world, something wonderful happens: The acorns fall. The oak seed, which once sustained the bulk of human civilization, is now largely ignored as a food. Not so at our Koviashuvik Local Living School, where every fall my family, friends, apprentices and I spend three wonderful mornings crawling around in the nearby red oak grove picking up acorns. We are not playing; we are making a living and playing.
|Human power at Long Meadow Farm. Photo courtesy of Long Meadow Farm.
Long Meadow Farm: Powered by Human Energy
By Holli Cederholm
Long Meadow Farm, located in West Gardiner, Maine, demonstrates a sustainable agriculture system based on low-input, low-tech organic farming. The 31.5 acres (2 acres cultivated for vegetables) is a vision of principles in practice, of ideologies carved out by hours of hard work – done mostly by hand. In 2012 Denis Thoet, farmer and farm owner, and Jon Ault, farm manager and MOFGA journeyperson, along with three apprentices are continuing this operation’s longstanding tradition of human-powered farming.
Participants in MOFGA’s 2012 Spring Growth Conference learned about field- and hoophouse-grown tomatoes, including some nitty-gritty details from growers that help ensure success with the crop.
Nutrient-Dense Foods as the Key to Health
By Polly Shyka
John Bagnulo, a naturalist and nutritionist, co-founded Terra Madre Farms in Northport, an online store of organic foods, supplements, herbs and gluten-free foods and a small, sustainable farm that will serve as a classroom for people to learn about sustainable living. With a master’s in public health and a doctorate in food and nutrition sciences, he has a nutrition practice in Belfast and has taught nutrition for the past 12 years. He lectures widely on nutrition and health and has helped hundreds of patients reverse chronic diseases through a diet of whole foods. We asked Bagnulo about nutrition, health and farming practices. Here are his responses, edited for length.
|American Hazel. Yaicha Cowell photo.
Hazelnuts for the Maine Homestead
By Will Bonsall
I've always loved filberts, those roundish nuts found in boxes of holiday mixes. They always tasted more substantial than the pecans and Brazil nuts, more evocative of northern forests. In fact, those European types (Corylus avellana) aren't very hardy here. Our native beaked hazelnuts (C. cornuta) are hardy, but their long, trumpet-shaped husks leave your hands feeling like you've been grabbing fiberglass insulation, and the tiny nuts are tedious to crack. I greatly prefer the American hazel (C. americana). I live outside its native range, yet it seems perfectly adaptable here.
Beyond the Beauty Strip: A 20th Year Retrospective
By Mitch Lansky
This year, 2012, is the 20th anniversary of the publication of Beyond the Beauty Strip: Saving What’s Left of Our Forests. In it I pointed out such trends as the sale of big land parcels, heavy cutting and short rotations on industry-owned lands, and increasing mechanization. I suggested that unless we change our direction, we’ll wind up where we are headed. Since I wrote Beyond the Beauty Strip, 10 million acres, the equivalent of half the state, have been cut. Have the trends I identified changed or continued? I looked at recent state and federal forest surveys and other studies and found that although some positive developments have occurred in understanding forest ecosystem dynamics and in conserving a small percentage of the forest, the major negative trends have continued.
Navigating the Food Safety and Regulations Maze
By Cheryl Wixson
Many certified organic farmers and producers seek to increase sales and market penetration through value-added food production or sales to institutions, supermarket chains and food processors. Markets for local, organic food are strong and growing rapidly, but licensing requirements, food safety regulations and liability issues must be addressed before a farmer can market a product.
Fearless Farm Finances
By Melissa White Pillsbury
Financial management is a daunting topic for any small business owner – including farmers. Keeping your head in the sand can feel safer than investigating answers to financial questions you might not want to have answered! If you’re in that boat, take heart: Your situation can only improve.
What is Low Impact Forestry?
By Andy McEvoy
Low impact forestry (LIF) is about balance – of ecological systems and human society; nutrient richness and capital investment; timber stand improvement and human infrastructure. Humans need forest resources for heat, building material, paper, tools and more, but we also need to conserve, or at least limit, extraction so that the resource is available for years to come.
In The Orchard: Spring Freeze, Fungal Challenges
By C.J. Walke
In my last article, I wrote about shifting weather patterns and their effects on our fruit trees. I wrote that the 2012 season started about two weeks earlier than what has been considered normal, as in 2010 when we had a freeze near Mother’s Day, and that earlier bloom times meant a higher risk of blossoms and fruit buds being hit by a late spring frost or freeze when they are most vulnerable. I was hoping to avoid another frost during apple bloom, but that did not happen, so the MOFGA orchards have few fruits this year.
By Adam Tomash
Materials. Brown materials are high in carbon, green materials are high in nitrogen. Mix the two in rough proportions of 2 volumes of brown to 1 volume of green to achieve a C:N ratio of 25:1 to 40:1. Remember that different sources of nitrogen have differing amounts of nitrogen; e.g., alfalfa is 2.6 percent N, blood meal is 12 percent, fish meal is 8 percent, soybean meal is 7 percent, so less of the higher N additives will be needed. Five 50-pound bags of alfalfa meal will take care of the N needs of an 8-foot-diameter compost pile of brown leaves that is 4 to 5 feet high. Put in 4 to 6 inches of loose leaves and cover with a half-inch of alfalfa meal. Repeat until bin is full.
|A lane guides sheep to pasture at Susan Littlefield's Yknot Farm in Belmont, Maine. Diane Schivera photo.
Transitioning to Organic Sheep and Goat Farming
By Diane Schivera, M.A.T.
Raising sheep and goats organically can be a challenge, so many farmers who support organic principles have not transitioned their animals to certified organic. Presently MOFGA Certification Services certifies four sheep and two goat farmers. Among the issues that farmers cite as hurdles to becoming certified are internal parasite control, control of foot rot, other medical issues, the cost of organic grain, and overall profit.
Bring Potted Peppers Indoors for Winter
By Joyce White
In the limited space claimed from the surrounding woods of Stoneham, Maine, to accommodate their home, Liz Como and Andy Chakoumakos grow vegetables, herbs and flowers in pots and raised beds. In the fall of 2011, before frost, Liz brought three potted sweet pepper plants inside to see if the small fruits would continue to grow into edible-sized peppers. Those with tiny peppers produced edible-sized peppers by November and stayed green all winter. This March the plants began flowering again, and by mid-April more small peppers had formed.
Garlic Bloat Nematode (Ditylenchus dipsaci)
By Eric Sideman, Ph.D.
The stem and bulb nematode, or bloat nematode as it is often called, is not a new pest. It was reported in New York and California in the ‘30s. But recently it has popped up in new places and in larger numbers. This year it has reached levels that are catching the eyes of garlic producers all over our region.
|Garlic growing at MOFGA's Common Ground Education Center in Unity. English photo.
So When Is the Right Time to Plant Garlic?
By Tom Vigue
People usually say mid-October is about the right time to plant garlic in central Maine. That rule of thumb will, in most years, produce a decent crop. But why are more or fewer cloves per bulb sometimes produced, or more double cloves? Why is storage life better some years than others? Why do some harvested bulbs weigh more or less (even if they are of normal size) than others? Knowing some of garlic’s quirks helps answer these questions.
Harvest Kitchen: Garlic Spreads and More
By Roberta Bailey
The late psychologist James Hillman once said that our duty is not to rise above life but grow down to it. He believed that each of us has a purpose or calling in life that reveals itself at an early age and reappears until we heed it. This certainly rings true for me. And I wonder if most farmers would find truth in it. I’m not talking about sinking in the ankle deep mud here. Rather that once we land, we put down deep roots. We dig in. We ground. We farm out of passion, whether we make any money at it or not. There is nowhere else to go, no other way to live.
|Kids planting in a raised bed at MOFGA's Farm and Homestead Day. English photo.
Humane Animal Treatment
GE Crops and Health
By Barbara Damrosch, MOFGA president
Look at the map of Maine and what do you see? A large state. Not very many people in it. Unused, cleared land that could be farmed. No wonder people are looking up this way when they wonder how New England will feed itself in an uncertain future.
Our Shared Voices
By Russell Libby, MOFGA Executive Director
At this year’s Common Ground Country Fair, we celebrate the work of Rachel Carson. It’s now 50 years since the release of her critically important book, Silent Spring, which we should all be reading once again.
Silent Spring, Hopeful Anniversary
By Jean English, Editor, The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener
September 27, 2012, marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. The book, prompted largely by effects of the insecticide DDT on birds, led to the ban of most uses of DDT, helped start the environmental movement, and led to increased regulation of pesticides.
Greenhorns – 50 Dispatches from the New Farmers’ Movement
The Orchard: A Memoir