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  You are here:  PublicationsMaine Organic Farmer & GardenerFall 2013MOFGA Notes - Fall 2013   
 MOFGA Notes - Fall 2013 Minimize


Staff Profile: Andrew Marshall, Educational Programs Director
The Nathan Dorpalen Memorial Fund Supports MOFGA's Beginning Farmer Programs
Staff Changes at MOFGA
Maine Heritage Orchard at MOFGA
Learn to ID Apples
Soils Conference with Arden Andersen in Bangor
MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee Update
From Conflict to Connection: Using Nonviolent Communication to Nurture Sustainable Relationships
Congratulations to …
Condolences to …

Andrew Marshall talks about soil quality at a Farm Training Project workshop at Village Farm in Freedom. Rosey Guest, a hero in the MOFGA beginning farmer programs, is to his right. English photo.


Staff Profile: Andrew Marshall, Educational Programs Director

Andrew Marshall manages MOFGA's educational programs with the help of Abby Sadauckas, MOFGA’s new-farmer programs coordinator, and, until she recently left MOFGA for a job with Healthy Maine Partnerships, educational events coordinator Emily Horton. His team works closely with MOFGA’s agricultural services department to develop and deliver these programs, including the Apprenticeship and Journeyperson Programs, the Farm Training Project, and educational events, such as the Spring Growth Conference and the Farmer-to-Farmer Conference. Marshall also teaches sustainable agriculture at Colby College.

Marshall has a background in agroecology and rural sociology, with degrees from Bowdoin College and the University of California, Santa Cruz. Before joining MOFGA, he helped develop and deliver programs at the UCSC Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, and contributed to the Center's manual, Teaching Organic Farming and Gardening: Resources for Instructors.

Once a MOFGA apprentice, Marshall now lives with his family on their own farm in Montville, where they raise organic vegetables, livestock and forest products.

Q. You’ve been with MOFGA for 10 years now. In that time, we’ve gone from having a few educational events each year with fewer than 500 participants to having almost 20, with some 2,000 participants. MOFGA is training up to 200 apprentices and 25 new journeyperson farmers each year. How do you do it all?

A. Good question; things are pretty hectic around here! I have lots of awesome help, from Abby (amazing Beginning Farmer Programs coordinator) to Emily (events coordinator) to Rosey (more about her later) to Joe (database manager) to everybody in the ag services department. Not to mention all the farmers and other experts who make our workshops and programs so valuable. It’s a real collaborative effort.

Q. Where did you apprentice? How has the apprenticeship program changed since then?

A. I worked for Dennis King and Jo Barrett at King Hill Farm. I have Rosey Guest to thank for that connection. She still plays an enormously important role in the program. Back then she meticulously tried to match each applicant with farms based on a close reading of applications and an intimate knowledge of all the farms in the program. She’s the unsung hero in the MOFGA beginning farmer programs story. 

These days, the program is too big to provide that kind of personalized service to each applicant, so we have moved to a kind of market-based approach where prospective apprentices can choose which farms see their applications. But we try to maintain as much of a personal, service-oriented approach as possible, which really sets our program apart from others, I think. Both Rosey and Abby are in constant communication with apprentices and farmers, responding to questions, needs and concerns as they arise. 

In general, I think the most important change to the program is simply the critical mass it has generated. It is really inspiring to see 30 or 50 or 75 smart, motivated folks show up to each Farm Training Project workshop. It’s a very hopeful sign for the future that so many young people are discovering the importance of agriculture.

Q. What do you see MOFGA’s educational programs looking like 10 years from now?

A. I’d like us to maintain our current focus on beginning farmer support and programming, and be able to keep pace with the demand. I hope to continually improve the effectiveness of what we offer by taking a comprehensive, systems-based approach to identifying the major barriers and obstacles to new farmer success and working with lots of smart people to design solutions to those obstacles.

I’ve been working with a couple of local colleges on curriculum development and integrating MOFGA’s approach – very immersive, practical, hands-on – with a classroom-based approach to leverage the strengths of both and produce a more robust model for farmer training, so I look forward to what comes of that.

We also recognize a growing need to strengthen and develop what we have to offer for farmers at other experience levels, as well as other audiences, such as home gardeners and consumers. We’re doing some good strategic planning on how to best approach this expansion.

Q. MOFGA’s apprenticeship and journeyperson programs are models for similar projects nationwide. How have you helped start those programs elsewhere?

A. It’s been really fun to help other organizations develop JP and apprenticeship programs in other places. We’ve basically taken a very open-source approach to sharing our structure, ideas and experiences with folks from other regions. There is a growing network of service providers around the country who are working to develop and improve beginning farmer services, and sharing ideas and resources and commiseration is making us all wiser and better informed.

Q. What is your involvement with the new agriculture program at Kennebec Valley Community College?

A. I’ve been serving on several committees at KVCC, helping the college develop its new program from scratch. I also helped develop and will be team-teaching the first course offering in the fall. It is exciting to see how much energy and excitement this program is generating. It is exactly this type of approach – combining immersive, practical training with more structured learning – that seems like the best way to train new farmers.

Q. Is there anything else you would like readers to know?

A. I’ve always been convinced that MOFGA’s success – which has empowered us to become leaders in so many fields – is due largely to two things: the Fair and this newspaper. So thanks to everybody for supporting MOFGA, coming to the Fair, and reading The MOF&G!

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The Nathan Dorpalen Memorial Fund Supports MOFGA's Beginning Farmer Programs

Nathan ("Nate") Dorpalen

MOFGA runs an apprenticeship program and a Farm Training Project for beginning farmers – many of whom become Maine's new farmers. These programs are made possible in part by the generosity of the Dorpalen Family and friends through the Nathan Dorpalen Memorial Fund.

Nathan ("Nate") Dorpalen died in 2010 at age 26 in a hiking accident in Norway. At the time, Nate was studying for his master's in environmental agroecology at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in Aas. He earned his bachelor's in environmental studies at Bates College.
 
While at Bates, Nate came to know MOFGA as a farm apprentice in Palermo, Maine, and by interviewing farmers for his senior thesis research on Maine's local and organic farming movements. Through this work, Nate developed a passion for small-scale organic farming. He worked seasons at Chase Farm in Freedom, Maine; Rosie Creek Farm near Fairbanks, Alaska; and Full Sun Farm outside Asheville, North Carolina.
 
Nate hoped to dedicate his career to supporting responsible farming practices and the farmers who make them possible.
 
An avid hiker and traveler, Nate is loved and remembered for his adventurous spirit, thoughtful nature, and commitment to living his life with a strong environmental ethic.
 
The Nathan Dorpalen Memorial Fund was established to honor Nate by supporting others who share his interest in local, small-scale farming through MOFGA's beginning farmer programs and internships.
 
MOFGA is grateful for the support this fund offers. To contribute to the fund, please make checks payable to MOFGA, designate "Nathan Dorpalen Fund" on the check, and mail the check to Nathan Dorpalen Memorial Fund, MOFGA, P.O. Box 170, Unity, ME  04988, or donate online at mofga.org.

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Staff Changes at MOFGA

MOFGA bid farewell this spring to Kacey Weber, our database manager and program assistant for membership and development; she is now the education coordinator for the Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District. Joe Dupere, formerly MOFGA’s landscape coordinator, is now our database manager.

Aktan Askin, Landscape Coordinator Jon Walsh, Fair Assistant

Aktan Askin, a former MOFGA journeyperson, is our new landscape coordinator. Aktan Askin grew up by the sea in the port city of Mersin, Turkey. He has been involved with MOFGA as a volunteer, journeyperson and member since he moved to Maine in 2004. After working on a number of Waldo County vegetable farms, Aktan and his wife, Erin, now have Lor Farm, a small-scale sheep and goat dairy and cheese house. They make cheeses, yogurt and sausage based on recipes of Anatolian and Mediterranean origin.

Emily Horton, who was MOFGA’s administrative assistant and then educational events coordinator, took a full-time job with Healthy Maine Partnerships this summer.

Jon Walsh joined MOFGA in June, 2013, as its Fair assistant. Walsh was raised in Winslow, Maine, grew up attending the Common Ground Country Fair and later volunteered in parking for the Fair. A graduate of Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, he returned to Maine after a variety of jobs to promote the interests of rural communities and local food systems.

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Maine Heritage Orchard at MOFGA

Site of the new Maine Heritage Orchard, formerly a gravel pit.

After several years of dreaming and planning, MOFGA has broken ground on a 10-acre heritage orchard just north of the fairgrounds in Unity. The brainchild of John Bunker and Russell Libby, the orchard will be unlike any other in Maine. It will preserve and protect more than 500 traditional apples and pears, including specimens from all 16 Maine counties. 

The varieties that will be included date back to a time when most Mainers lived on farms and every farm had a small orchard of locally adapted selections. Many of these varieties are now on the verge of extinction. With the help of numerous “old timers” and hundreds of apple enthusiasts from around the state, Bunker has been assembling a unique collection of heritage fruit over the past 30 years. Currently more than 200 of these rare varieties have been grafted onto standard rootstock and are waiting to be planted in the orchard. The first 100 varieties will be planted in April 2014. 

The Maine Heritage Orchard will be under the direction of a newly formed orchard committee, composed of agricultural historians, permaculturists and orchardists and headed by Bunker. The orchard will be managed using innovative organic orchard practices, including permaculture, polyculture and other techniques. It will be a learning laboratory and a model for backyard growers, orchardists, herbalists, permaculturists and agricultural educators. MOFGA will offer workshops and classes in the orchard year round. Fruit, grafting scions, and historical and cultural information on each variety will be made available to the public. MOFGA hopes to station journeypersons at the site as it develops.

Bunker will speak about the orchard all three days at the Fair. Please join him to learn more about this incredible project and how you can become involved on location in Unity or as a Heritage Apple Steward in your own backyard. Visit the Maine Heritage Orchard web page.

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Learn to ID Apples

Cole's Quince apple, a Maine variety.

On Sept. 28, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., John Bunker will conduct a MOFGA-sponsored apple ID workshop at the Deer Isle Hostel in Deer Isle, Maine. Apple ID is equal parts keen observation, detective work, treasure hunt, history and creative thinking. Participants will learn to identify 10 heritage Maine apple varieties and to differentiate between seedlings and grafted trees. They will gain the basic skills to track down and identify apples, and will learn about resources for that purpose. Bunker founded Fedco Trees and MOFGA's Heritage Orchard. He's one of the most prominent U.S. apple experts, having spent decades cataloging and identifying apple varieties and researching their history. Fee: $50; scholarships available! Group size is limited, so register early by calling the Hostel at 348-2308 or emailing info@deerislehostel.com. Participants are welcome and encouraged to stay at the Hostel the night before the workshop for $25, with a communal dinner.

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Soils Conference with Arden Andersen in Bangor

Dr. Arden Andersen will present the latest on nutrient-dense biological agriculture and how healthy soils make economic and environmental sense, at Heart of Maine’s Annual Soils Conference, November 14 through 16 in Bangor. MOFGA is cosponsoring this event.

Says MOFGA certified organic farmer Jim Gerritsen, "Arden Andersen provides an unequaled foundation for understanding soils that will last a farmer a lifetime. His breadth of knowledge – of soils and systems from a good-nutrition-is-good health-perspective – is second to none.” Anderson’s course is “the best way for farmers and serious gardeners to gain a clear foundation of soils and biology in a compact three-day window,” Gerritsen adds. “He is also blessed to be an exceptional, highly skilled teacher. I took Arden's Bangor class in 2005, and had we done that 30 years earlier, we would really be making a good living now.”

FMI: www.heartofmaine.org, info@heartofmaine.org, 207-200-3603.

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MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee Update

MOFGA has a sistering relationship with two organizations in El Salvador that do work similar to that of MOFGA – supporting farmers, gardeners and community development. Some members of MOFGA’s committee, as well as other interested people, travel on a delegation to visit our sistering organizations every other year – with 2014 being the next delegation. Anyone who is interested in traveling to El Salvador for about 10 days this winter (late January-early February) to visit rural communities and monitor presidential elections is welcome to email committee members Karen and Paul Volckhausen (pkvolckhausen@escrap.com).

Our El Salvador committee has just kicked off a raffle of two Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares as a fundraiser. Tickets are available for $5 each (six for $25) at the MOFGA tent at the Common Ground Country Fair, at www.mofgastore.org or by sending a check to MOFGA, P.O Box 170, Unity, ME 04988, with "El Salvador Raffle" written in the memo line. Please include an address and phone number so that MOFGA can mail your tickets. For more information, please see the ad in this newspaper.

For more about the MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee, please visit our booth in the Social and Political Action Area at the Common Ground Country Fair or visit www.mofga.org.

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From Conflict to Connection: Using Nonviolent Communication to Nurture Sustainable Relationships
Dec. 7 and 8, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center, Unity

Whether you want to improve your relationship with yourself, your family, co-workers or community, this two-day-long workshop will open new doors and expand your options. You will gain skills for using daily conflicts to relate more authentically and compassionately – building trust in a multi-sensory learning experience that fosters safety, depth and fun.

This workshop is a fundraiser for three grassroots environmental organizations: MOFGA’s El-Salvador Sistering Committee, a green belt project in West Bank, Palestine, and an anti-littering project created and run by teenagers in Palestine.

The trainer, Peggy Smith, is the only certified Nonviolent Communication (NVC) trainer in Maine. She offers this work through her business, Open Communication. Smith shares this life-changing work with cooperatives, businesses, agricultural groups, university students, school groups in Maine and educators from the Middle East and South Asia through Seeds of Peace International Camp, here and in the region.

This event has a value of $140; as a fundraiser it is offered to the public by donation. Participants’ generosity will support the three grassroots environmental groups in the vital environmental work that they each do. FMI: www.opencommunication.org  or 207-789-5299.

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Congratulations to …

Anna Libby and Lucas Rumler Kaiulani Lee, at last year's Common Ground Country Fair, with Jay Feldman of Beyond Pesticides.
Anneli Carter-Sundqvist and Dennis Carter stop for a photo in front of their chicken coop. Photo courtesy of Carter and Carter-Sundqvist.
Gregg and Gloria Varney and their children. Photo courtesy of the Varneys.  
   

MOFGA’s volunteer coordinator, Anna Libby, on her June marriage to Lucas Rumler.

Jim Amaral and Borealis Breads on the 20th anniversary of the company.

MOFGA member and stage and screen actor Kaiulani Lee, who was awarded an honorary doctorate of arts and humanities at Unity College in May. Lee is an acting teacher who has performed on and off-Broadway and in many television series. For about 20 years she has portrayed Rachel Carson in the play "A Sense of Wonder" – including at the Common Ground Country Fair.

Amber Lambke, vice chair of the Western Mountains Committee, who received the Downtown Visionary Award at the Maine Downtown Center’s 13th annual conference. The award recognizes Lambke’s community leadership in Skowhegan, where she runs the Somerset Grist Mill.

MOFGA member Meredith Jones, who was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by her alma mater, the University of Maine at Augusta. Jones is the Maine Community Foundation president and CEO.

Organic Valley for receiving a certificate of recognition from The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders for its food donation to Union Beach after Superstorm Sandy. Organic Valley has been volunteering for relief efforts after natural disasters for 10 years. At Union Beach, Organic Valley volunteers set up a kitchen in tents and fed organic breakfast, lunch and dinner to approximately 1,000 people per day. Organic Valley also delivered food to neighborhoods. (From “Organic Valley: Serving Union Beach after Sandy ‘Rewarding’,” Matawan-Aberdeen Patch, 7/3/2013)

Gregg and Gloria Varney and Anneli Carter-Sundqvist and Dennis Carter for being among the six Homesteaders of the Year named by Mother Earth News. The Varney family operates the oldest certified organic dairy in Maine, in Turner, and belongs to the Organic Valley dairy cooperative. The Varneys also keep sheep, pigs, rabbits and dairy goats; tend a vegetable garden, fruit orchard and several honeybee hives; run a farm store, café and bakery, selling value-added products, fresh produce and healthy meals made mostly from ingredients raised on the property. The family hosts workshops twice a month, along with a pizza-making party and open mic jam every other Saturday.

Carter and Carter-Sundqvist live on and operate an off-grid homestead hostel on Deer Isle, using a small-scale solar-electric system. Approximately 300 guests stayed at Deer Isle Hostel last summer. The couple also sell garlic and shiitake mushrooms from their property; raise most of their food, including vegetables, herbs, chickens and pigs; and rely on cold frames, a root cellar, canning and fermentation instead of refrigeration to preserve their harvests. They share equipment and labor with neighbors, and they host workshops on sustainable living.

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Condolences to …

MOFGA members Karen and Fred Cookson on the loss of their Shaw Road Farm in Dover-Foxcroft to fire in July.

the family and friends of Holly Louise Meade of Sedgwick, who died in June. An artist and children's book illustrator (and winner of a Caldecott Honor and Charlotte Zolotow Award for Creative Writing), Meade won the 2010 Common Ground Country Fair art contest for her lively rooster design.

the family and friends of MOFGA member Judith Linda McMahon of Swanville, who died in June. McMahon had tended livestock, researched island ecology, tended gardens at Johnny’s Selected Seeds, done graphic design, illustrated children’s stories, and taught and performed violin.

the friends and family of Amy Stiner, who died in an accident in July while driving with her friend, Melissa Moyer, who also died. Amy and her husband, Gregg, had been MOFGA apprentices at Tide Mill Farm, were raising dairy heifers, chickens and vegetables on leased land, and were planning to become MOFGA journeypersons. A memorial fund has been created to ease the financial burden for Gregg, at http://www.grovedesignsolutions.com/stiner-donation.html.

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