|Eric and Becky Sideman. English photo.
|Crepes made to order by Billi Barker. Cederholm photo.
|Tetebatu - living model of sustainability. Roderick photo.
|Prototype high tunnel in Maine. English photo.
The Multitalented Sidemans and their Fruitful Homestead
By Jean English
Many of us know Eric and Becky Sideman in their capacities as farm-scale advisors: Eric as MOFGA’s organic crop specialist and Becky as Extension professor/specialist in sustainable horticulture production at the University of New Hampshire. Both present regularly at MOFGA’s Farmer to Farmer Conference and at other events geared toward farmers. But the Sidemans also work with gardeners – and they embrace the homesteader side of the MOFGA community on their own 10 acres in Strafford, New Hampshire. Here, on their zone 5a, 800-foot elevation, MOFGA certified organic East Wind Farm, they raise small commercial crops of strawberries and tomatoes as well as almost all the produce, eggs and meat they eat.
GrandyOats – Blending an Organic Lifestyle for 35 Years
By Joyce White
GrandyOats has managed something noteworthy in Maine – creating a successful organic food business worthy of the 2013 Producer of the Year Award by the Maine Grocers Association and Food Producers Alliance while maintaining its organic and sustainability values. Nat Pierce and Aaron Anker, both 42 with families, are happy with their partnership in the unique business of creating more than 40 scrumptious, 100 percent organic granolas and trail mixes sold around the country.
The Enchanted Kitchen: Value Adding at Fire Fly Farm
By Holli Cederholm
Personal chef, artisan baker and farm-to-fork caterer Billi Barker celebrates her love of farming through her food. The Enchanted Kitchen, the business name for Barker's many culinary alchemies, is physically located at her Fire Fly Farm in St. Alban's, Maine.
Tetebatu – A Living Model of Sustainability
By Travis Roderick
On a recent surf trip to Indonesia, I stumbled upon a hidden village tucked away in the foothills of Rinjani, Indonesia’s second highest volcano. Tetebatu is a village where modern society has yet to completely swallow up age-old traditions and a simple way of life.
Time for a 180 on Cows and Climate
By Joann S. Grohman
I listen to many talks by highly qualified scientists and others deeply concerned about our future, as well they might be. Some are concerned about climate change, others about starvation. In their summary remarks – I wait for it: Their suggestions for how we can mitigate disaster always include a well-meant suggestion that we eat less meat on the grounds that to do so will liberate more resources to grow human food. Few seem to question this supposed cause and effect.
Grow and Process Your Own Vegetable Oil
By Will Bonsall
Those of us who seek to be more self-reliant are often content to grow our own veggies and perhaps some of our legumes, such as peas and beans. The more extremist among us may also aspire to producing our own grains, which after all have been the staff of life for most of mankind through most of our history. But what about fat or oil? For meat eaters, suet and lard are rather simple options, although at a great loss of eco-efficiency. From our first years on the land, we aspired to produce our own vegetable oil, but that seemed elusive until recently.
Innovative System High Tunnel Uses Bacteria To Generate Heat for High Tunnels
– and To Make Quality Compost
By Liz Kolbe and Rich Schuler
What if farmers using high tunnels had a system that generated compost and provided supplemental heat to protect early- and late-season crops from unpredictable temperatures? An innovative on-farm project by Practical Farmers of Iowa is doing just that: using waste heat from composting to protect delicate crops inside high tunnels during spring and fall cold spikes.
Prototype High Tunnel Designed to Boost Piscataquis County Economy
Text and photos by Jean English
An April 2014 field day in Sangerville, Maine, featured a novel high tunnel made with local materials that should boost not only the economy of area farms and gardens but that of Piscataquis County’s wood products and manufacturing industries as well.
The Common Ground Country Fair: Living in Right Relationship
By Grace Oedel
I moved to Maine a year ago but had heard stories for years before about an epic fair way up north. The words “wholesome” and “glorious” came up a lot in these descriptions. A friend I grew up with (all the way down in Georgia) lined the walls of his house with Common Ground Country Fair posters. What made this fair so different, so precious, to so many people?
|Eric Sideman loves corn! Becky Sideman photo.
A Butter Lover’s Guide to Growing Corn
By Eric Sideman, Ph.D.
Corn is my favorite vegetable. I aim to have fresh corn from July 16 until at least Common Ground Country Fair time. I manage that by growing three or four varieties differing in days to maturity and by making six to eight plantings from early May through June, with four 25-foot rows in each planting. Because corn is wind pollinated, I have to have that much in each planting, in a block shape to ensure good pollination. This takes about a quarter of one of our bigger gardens.
Getting Your Livestock to the Edible Form
By Diane Schivera, M.A.T.
Getting your livestock to the butcher or processor is not just a matter of walking them onto a trailer and driving there. There are procedures to do first and best ways to transport in order to produce quality livestock products.
Building Health in the Orchard
By C.J. Walke
The concept of “remedies” seems to permeate our culture, in which we believe we are smart enough to solve any problem, and most often the problem is one we’ve created or allowed to come into existence. Remedy doesn’t work so well in organic farming. A spray tank of Bt or spinosad might knock back a pest population to a manageable level, but the population will rebound because the spray application did nothing to change the environment we created to host these pests. And they will return.
Maine Heritage Orchard Update
By John Bunker
If you’ve stopped by the Maine Heritage Orchard (MeHO) at MOFGA lately, you’ve seen that a lot has changed in the past year. Most noticeable are an 8-foot deer fence, a hillside of young apple trees and newly established cover crops. Behind the scenes, members of the Heritage Orchard Committee have been developing a master plan for the 10-acre site that includes a walking trail, community gathering space and wildlife areas. It’s been a good year.
Four Steps To Mothball Your Farm or Business
By Cheryl Wixson
There are certain times in the life of your farm or business when circumstances beyond your control – such as the death of your partner, health of a family member, loss of a facility due to fire or other disaster – require that the business enterprise cease operation for a period of time. In the business sense of the word, this option is characterized as mothballing.
|Young flower growers blooming in Maine.
Katie Savalchak photo.
Young Flower Growers Blooming in Maine
By Karen Volckhausen
I was interested to read in the spring issue of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers Quarterly the angst expressed by Frank Arnosky, president of the association, over the future of flower farming. He noted declining enrollment in university agriculture and horticulture programs and the increasing problem of finding workers for his large flower operation. To recruit interns from Texas A&M, he offered an hourly salary, housing and a generous scholarship – and got zero responses.
Harvest Kitchen: Foods from Fruit and Nut Trees
By Roberta Bailey
Maine is a rich state. We are rich in beauty, rich in art, rich in innovative people. We are colorful and full of local color. We color outside the lines. We think outside the box. We get cabin fever and turn the box into a high tunnel and learn how to laugh at winter’s twisted sense of humor. We are a state growing increasingly richer in creative farmers growing healthy food and creating new ways to market a rich palette of vegetables and fruits, berries, apples, nuts and tree fruits, cheeses and dairy products, fermented foods, tofu, tempeh, bread, mushrooms, garlic, grains, oils, meat, jams, pickles, maple syrup, seed and so much more.
We're All In This Together
Common Ground Country Fair: Celebrating Rural Living
By Ted Quaday, MOFGA Executive Director
Thousands of folks from throughout New England and beyond make an annual pilgrimage to Unity for the Common Ground Country Fair. This Fair, celebrating its 38th year, has become a rite of passage from our busy summer season into the quieter winter months we know lie ahead. It is a time to rekindle friendships, to learn and to savor all the extraordinary food grown by Maine’s organic farmers.
As Big as Our Dreams
By Jean English
In a fascinating interview on Krista Tippett’s radio show “On Being”, Harvard social psychologist Ellen Langer talks about her scientific research involving “the words and ideas we attach to them” as well as the concept of mindfulness – “the very simple process of actively noticing new things. When you actively notice new things, that puts you in the present, makes you sensitive to context.” Actively noticing new things is literally enlivening, Langer says.
Reviews and Resources
A Homesteader’s Year on Deer Isle
Plant Spirit Medicine
Raising Dough: The Complete Guide to Financing a Socially Responsible Food Business