|Soay sheep at Beau Chemin Preservation Farm. Wayne Myers photo
|Adam Nordell and Johanna Davis of Songbird Farm in Unity. Holli Cederholm photo
|Maine district forester Morten Moesswilde at Eli Berry's woodland in Washington, Maine. Jean English photo
|Clusters of corn, with beans interplanted, at Will Bonsall's homestead garden in Industry, Maine. Will Bonsall photo
Beau Chemin Preservation Farm Husbands Endangered Livestock
By Jo Ann and Wayne Myers
Beau Chemin Preservation Farm (BCPF) in Waldoboro, Maine, is a small farm with a mission to preserve "yesterday's breeds for tomorrow's needs." The farm is MOFGA-certified organic for PYO berries and fruit, and for seedlings, hay, pasture, ducks and eggs. A major product is wool for handspinners.
Songbird Farm: Farmers Find Balance with Flour and Folk Music
By Holli Cederholm
Young farmers Adam Nordell and Johanna Davis produce organic vegetables, grains, legumes and music on their Songbird Farm in Unity, Maine. The duo toured full-time for a year as folk artists, based in Nordell's home state of Montana, before settling down to farm in Davis' resident state: Maine. After five years of operating Songbird Farm on leased land – their first season in Pemaquid and Whitefield and later in Starks – in 2015 the couple signed a 30-year mortgage on 41 acres in Unity.
Beyond the Field Edge: Your Perennial Crop
By Katy Green and Jean English
Maine's woodlots can provide income, materials for the farm, spiritual inspiration and more, as speakers revealed at a workshop on forestry and soil conservation held in Washington, Maine, in April by the Knox-Lincoln Soil & Water Conservation District. The workshop was presented in cooperation with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Maine Coast Heritage Trust, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, MOFGA and the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine. Morning talks were followed by a tour of Eli Berry's woodland in Washington; this tour was funded by the USDA NRCS, under number 69-3A75-16-012.
FoodCorps Creates Model Garden Program at the Walker School
By Jean English
"Fun! Friends! Games! And don't forget planting!" Those are a few benefits of the garden program at the pre-K-through-5 Walker School in Liberty, Maine, according to fifth graders there. They also cite "cool science experiments," food for school lunches, and adapting games such as Four Square and Capture the Flag to gardening.
Do-It-Yourself Medicine from the Wild
By Joyce White
What a revelation to me at midlife in the 1990s when Maine naturalist Jean Hoekwater introduced me to the idea that I could make my own medicine from plants! Her Echinacea plants were vibrant, and she showed me how to make a medicinal tincture from them using vodka to extract the healing properties from the chopped plant material. I've used the tincture ever since whenever exposed to colds or flu for its antibacterial and antiviral properties.
Managing Maine's Forests for the Double Bottom Line: Increasing Carbon Sequestration and Decreasing Carbon Emissions
By Mitch Lansky
In 2015, 196 countries agreed to act to limit global warming. To meet their climate goals, just reducing emissions may not be enough. We also need to increase carbon sequestration.
Cluster or Hill Planting
By Will Bonsall
I once watched a fellow go to great pains to build a mound of at least 5 gallons in volume, which he neatly flattened on top before inserting several squash seeds and carefully patting it all down. I asked him what he was doing, and he said he was planting in hills, just like the Native Americans did. I did not comment (he was having too much fun going to all that trouble), but I couldn't see the point of his exaggerated care, and I was certain that Native Americans never went to such extremes to plant their squash, much less their corn and beans; their methods were simply not that labor-intensive, especially since they had very large quantities to plant of those staples.
Storing Saved Seeds
By Jean English
Many garden seeds can be collected now and stored for planting in spring. Echinacea seeds are drying on their seed heads – at least those that the goldfinches aren't eating. ‘Jimmy Nardello' sweet peppers are long and red; it's time to eat the flesh and save the scraped-away seeds. ‘Chateau Rose' tomato seeds are ripe for the taking (i.e., for the fermenting).
Ground-nesting Bees Are Smaller on Farms than in Natural Landscapes
By Sue Smith-Heavenrich
A recent study shows that common ground-nesting bees grow smaller in heavily farmed landscapes than in natural areas.
How Much Do You Know About Organic Certification?
By Jaco Schravesande-Gardei, MOFGA Certification Services LLC
MOFGA Certification Services currently certifies approximately 500 organic farms and processors. The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) administers and enforces the standards that organic farmers and processors must follow. The original NOP rule is about 48 pages long, with many additional pages of explanation, so people are sometimes confused about what "certified organic" means.
Pasture Management Tips and Resources
By Diane Schivera, M.A.T.
Deciding how to rotate pastures on your farm can be confusing! You have to consider many stable factors, such as soil type and slope of the land, and shifting factors, such as the amount of feed in the field at a given time and the weather.
Fall Reminders and Income from a Diverse Young Orchard
By C.J. Walke
It is now almost fall in the orchard and time to think about harvest, cleanup (orchard sanitation) and preparations for winter. Managing fungal diseases can challenge organic tree fruit growers all season, but we can decrease overwintering fungal pressures by putting in a little effort now.
Maine Heritage Orchard Welcomes Volunteers
By Cammy Watts
Bees are not the only things buzzing at MOFGA's Maine Heritage Orchard (MEHO) this growing season. The 280 apple trees planted over the past three years are putting down strong roots and sending up new shoots. The hundreds of herbaceous companion plants covering the ground between the trees are spreading and preventing soil erosion and runoff. The woody shrubs, such as elderberry, that were planted on the terraces are producing their first crop of fruit. And birds and insects that fled from the site when their habitat was stripped away are now visible again in the grasses and darting from tree to shrub.
Hydroponic Growing: Can It Be Called Organic?
By Eric Sideman, Ph.D.
Hydroponic growing is producing crops in nutrient-rich solutions or in an inert, porous, solid matrix bathed in nutrient-rich solutions. Should crops grown hydroponically be allowed to be called "organic" if those nutrient-rich solutions are derived from natural materials rather than from chemical fertilizers? Equally important, who says whether they can or cannot be called organic?
Harvest Kitchen – Book Features Unique Ferments
By Roberta R. Bailey
For me, and for so many who have come for a few years or 40, the Common Ground Country Fair is a weekend-long web of paths crossing. Friends meet friends. Exclamations and hugs follow. People who see each other once a year gather in the center common and play music or share a meal, pulling out some kimchi from home, or a quart of Sungold cherry tomatoes, sharing their favorite apples, passing around a bunch of grapes. Conversation rolls through the successes, the observations, the droughty stretches that made the birds eat more of the blueberries, ripening dates, organic techniques and how they worked this year, stress on the garlic crop, fourth of July tomatoes. It is the shared science of a farming life. It is the Common Ground, the very mycelia of the Fair.
Shade Trees Add Cool Values
Freezing Grilled Pepper Strips
Happy 40th Common Ground Country Fair!
By Jean English
Former MOFGA president Mort Mather has described Scott Nearing's keynote speech at an early MOFGA gathering: "Scott approached the podium with a stack of papers in hand, set the papers on the podium, looked at the audience, and gave his four-word speech: 'Pay as you go.'" That philosophy may work not only for finances; it may sum up all of organic agriculture and regenerative ecosystems – and so much that you see at the Common Ground Country Fair.
Feet on the Organic Ground
By Sam Vail
Last year the city of Portland moved to Unity for a long weekend. Well, not literally. But the Common Ground Country Fair calls for this comparison. Another record year for attendance at the Fair reminds me why, fresh out of college, I applied to work at MOFGA – why I tried to stay in Maine.
Restoring Heritage Grains
The New Bread Basket
The Bio-Integrated Farm
The End of Fossil Energy and Per Capita Oil, Fifth Edition