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MOF&G Cover Spring 2011

  

  You are here:  PublicationsMaine Organic Farmer & GardenerSpring 2011Notes – Spring 2011   
 MOFGA Notes – Spring 2011 Minimize


Barbara Damrosch Steps Up As MOFGA Board President
Composting and Gardening Talks at Belfast Library
Spring Growth Conference: Production in Hoophouses
MOFGA’s Farmers in Residence: Thinking Creatively about Winter Markets
MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee Empty Bowl Supper
MOFGA Welcomes New Administrative Assistant
MOFGA People

Barbara Damrosch Steps Up As MOFGA Board President


MOFGA members voted in a new board of directors at its annual meeting on January 11. Barbara Damrosch, who has served on MOFGA's board for several years, is president. With her husband, Eliot Coleman, Damrosch owns Four Season Farm in Harborside, which produces vegetables year round. Heather Albert-Knopp is now vice president; David Shipman continues as treasurer; and JoAnn Myers is now recording secretary. MOFGA is grateful for the service of its 22 board members and extends special appreciation to outgoing president Craig Lapine and board members Dave Colson and Adam Lee, who are stepping down after many years of service.

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Composting and Gardening Talks at Belfast Library

The Belfast Co-op, Belfast Free Library and MOFGA are co-sponsoring free workshops on organic food production for all levels of interest, taught by C.J. Walke.

Composting, on March 22, will cover turning food waste into a usable soil amendment for the yard, garden and farm. Learn how to build a compost pile, what materials to compost and how to encourage composting microbes.

Growing an Organic Garden, on April 5, will cover basic soil science; ways to enrich soil to produce healthy, high-yielding plants; basics of making and using compost; principles of crop rotation; incorporating green manures; managing nutrients in the garden; distinguishing cultivated plants from weeds; controlling weeds and insect pests and methods of natural insect control.

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Spring Growth Conference: Production in Hoophouses
 
Cultivating crops in hoophouses enables growers to control the environment. Having that control is one thing; knowing what to do with it is another. This year’s Spring Growth Conference will focus on managing the environment around hoophouse crops – the temperature, water, nutrients, humidity, light, ventilation, etc. Adam Montri, outreach specialist with the Michigan State University hoophouse program, will discuss the aboveground environment, and Bruce Hoskins from the University of Maine Analytical Laboratory and Soil Testing Service will discuss soil management in high tunnels. A panel including Montri and Maine farmers Tom Roberts and Mark Guzzi will complete the day. The conference is on Saturday, March 19 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center in Unity. Registration fees and forms are posted at http://mofga.org/Default.aspx?tabid=190 .

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MOFGA’s Farmers in Residence: Thinking Creatively about Winter Markets

By Holli Cederholm

As relatively new market growers, my partner Brian and I try to assess market gaps that may lead to potential niches for our budding business. In our 2010 inaugural growing season, we peddled our produce through a small CSA, two weekly farmers’ markets and a handful of wholesale accounts with natural food stores and restaurants. Of course we grew too much of some crops – and too little of others, including hardy vegetables destined for winter storage and, more importantly, winter sales.

As we closed up shop for the season at our Saturday market, most of our customers lamented their return to grocery store shopping for the next six months. Our own midwinter scouting at supermarkets confirms our customers’ dissatisfaction over the dearth of available Maine produce – we saw little beyond apples and potatoes in ready supply. While local food co-ops and health food stores often offer more substantial displays, they are subject to buying produce from away when the supply from their local vendors drops.

However, growers across the state are generating creative direct-marketing solutions to bridge the gap between October and May. Melissa White Pillsbury, MOFGA’s organic marketing specialist, calls winter marketing the biggest trend to sweep through Maine since Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Winter farmers’ markets are gaining momentum, and many farms have adapted the CSA model to their winter marketing needs. This often means partnering with other local farmers and food producers to offer a breadth of options for the winter pantry – from root vegetables, seasonal fruits and dried herbs to meat, dairy and eggs. Another market innovation is an e-mail subscription list in which weekly bulletins post available products, which are then boxed for pick-up or delivery, similar to the CSA.

While my excitement mounts over the winter marketing explosion in Maine, I have to wonder what took so long. I immediately think that appropriate storage could have been a hindrance for many growers, but then realize that most farmers I know have at least modest storage facilities for their own larder. My secondary thoughts progress to what I think is a flaw of most marketing situations concerned with local food: consumer outreach and education. Perhaps Maine eaters weren’t demanding eating in season in recent past winters. Now, for good reasons, cabbage and carrots are in vogue (again), and I hope we, as farmers, help to nourish this appeal.

As Brian and I are planning and planting our fall crops this season, I will be thinking about how to help our customers transform the mundane acts of eating into acts of celebration. I like how the atmosphere of a vibrant winter farmers’ market – with flour and baked goods, dry beans and popcorn, meat and dairy, chutney and pickles, apples and cranberries – sets the stage for a Maine-made meal that commands a second helping. When farmers intentionally offer several colors of beets or potatoes, instead of the standard, they are harkening toward the diversity that is available despite the snow-covered fields. Yet we still have a ways to go. I look forward to offering an assemblage of winter ingredients that inspires cooking without imports from across the country, but also know that education is as crucial as availability. For now, recipe cards will have to intimate traditional knowledge as we try to revitalize our bygone foodways.

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Bowl for Empty Bowl Supper
Fill a beautiful empty bowl with delicious soup at the MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee's Empty Bowl Supper – the main fundraiser for the committee. English photos.
Empty Bowl
Beautiful Bowls, Savory Soup, Friends and Music
MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee Empty Bowl Supper

Want to buy a handsome, Maine-made bowl and support the MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee’s work – all for just $15 ($35 maximum for families)? Come to the committee’s Empty Bowl Supper on Saturday, April 23, at 6 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Miller St. in Belfast. Help us celebrate our 10th anniversary as a MOFGA committee, the 20th anniversary of the U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities organization, and MOFGA’s 40th anniversary.

Each year MOFGA's El Salvador Sistering Committee and the Green Sanctuary and Social Justice Committees of the Unitarian Universalist Church serve this supper to raise funds for the El Salvador Committee’s work. Those funds have helped bring Salvadorans to Maine to tour farms, meet with community organizers and agricultural officials, and participate in the Common Ground Country Fair; helped fund events relating to the Central American Free Trade Agreement for our sistering organizations in El Salvador; and helped with work to prevent mining companies from destroying our Salvadoran sisters' mountains and agricultural lands.

Empty Bowl Suppers started in Michigan in 1990, when a high school art teacher helped his students raise funds to support a food drive. A class project to make ceramic bowls for a fundraising meal evolved. Guests were served a simple meal of soup and bread, and were invited to keep the bowl as a reminder of hunger in the world. Subsequently, Empty Bowls developed into a project to support food banks, soup kitchens and other organizations that fight hunger. The Imagine/RENDER Group, a 501(c)3 organization, promotes the project, and Empty Bowl events raise millions of dollars worldwide to help combat hunger.

Please join us for delicious soups, breads and desserts and to socialize. Enjoy live music by Paul D’Alessio of Primo Cubano and take home a beautiful bowl, handcrafted and donated by a Maine potter. For more information, please call MOFGA or check www.mofga.org. Tickets will be available at the door.

Seeking Bowl Donations

MOFGA’s El Salvador Committee is seeking bowls made by Maine potters for its Empty Bowl Supper. Seconds are fine! Anyone who would like to donate bowls may contact Jean English, jenglish@tidewater.net. Thanks!

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Emily Horton, left, and Katy Green
Emily Horton, left, has moved into the position of administrative assistant at MOFGA, while Katy Green has left that position to become MOFGA's new organic transitions coordinator. Heather Spalding photo.
MOFGA Welcomes New Administrative Assistant


The voice you first hear or person you first see at MOFGA is, most likely, that of Emily Horton, our new administrative assistant.

Emily hails from Montville, Maine, where her family ran one of the early MOFGA-certified organic farms. She started working with MOFGA in the summer of 2010 as the Common Ground Country Fair Assistant. She is a graduate of Lesley University's Audubon Expedition Institute, where her dorm room consisted of sleeping under the stars in a tent, and her "classroom" roamed throughout the United States and Hawaii on an outfitted school bus. During those two years, she studied the social and environmental issues of the regions while practicing sustainable living and land stewardship. She has lived in Sri Lanka, while volunteering for the European organization MondoChallenge, and in Costa Rica as the Sustainability/Farm Intern for The School For Field Studies. Emily now lives in Washington, Maine, where she is starting her own small farm. Welcome to the front desk, Emily!

MOFGA thanks Katy Green, now our organic transitions coordinator, for her great service as administrative assistant for the past 2-1/2 years. Green is one of a few people in the country certified to help farmers transition their land into organic production with EQIP funding.

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MOFGA People

Congratulations to:

Melissa White Pillsbury, MOFGA’s organic marketing coordinator, on the January 27 birth of her son, Maxximus Byron James Pillsbury. Mother and child are doing great! Best wishes, as well, to Maxximus’ father, Rocy, and brother, Richard.

• Maine dairy farmers Wayne Bragg and John Donald for receiving 2010 Quality Awards from Horizon Organic. The Quality Awards recognize the Horizon farmer partners in each state whose milk ranks in the top 10 percent for quality within Horizon’s network. To be considered for the award, producers must ship organic milk to Horizon for one full calendar year, and average test results for each shipment must be among the best in their respective states.

Paolina’s Way in Camden for being named one of the Top 10 Farm-to-Table Restaurants in North America by The Huffington Post. When possible, Paolina’s Way prepares dishes exclusively with local, organic, Maine-coast ingredients, many cultivated at the restaurant’s own Well Fed Farm.

• Maine chef and MOFGA board member Sam Hayward for his part in developing recipes for the MaineFresh seafood pies now sold at Hannaford stores throughout the Northeast. The pies use locally harvested seafood and other Maine ingredients, and contain no genetically engineered or artificial ingredients, no antibiotics and no preservatives. Also involved in the project are the Cobscook Bay Company and the nonprofit Cobscook Community Learning Center in Trescott, in Washington County. Twenty-five percent of net proceeds from sales of the pies benefit the learning center, which offers educational programs to area residents.

NOFA Vermont reports that Pete’s Greens, a certified organic farm in Craftsbury, suffered a catastrophic barn fire on January 12, 2011, losing all of its winter storage crops, a trailer load of meat, and much of its production and processing equipment. Pete Johnson of Pete’s Greens spoke at MOFGA and Cooperative Extension’s 2007 Farmer to Farmer Conference. Donations can be made directly to Pete’s Greens via www.petesgreens.com/Fire.html.

Our condolences to the friends and family of MOFGA member Mildred MacComb of Pittston, who died on November 12, 2010. Residing at her Mountainview Farms for decades, she often said, "With a little hard work a person could really have all the food they wanted, and of a very good mix and quality at that." She raised peaches, sheep and Great Pyrenees dogs.

Our condolences, also, to the family of Kristen Gardner, 45, of Washington, Maine, who died on January 4 as a result of an automobile accident. Kristen was a long-time Common Ground Country Fair food vendor who, with her husband, David, and their wonderful children, ran the Siva Concessions booth serving delicious organic falafels, gyros, watermelon juice and other treats. Kristen was a delightful, hard-working woman who always saw the best in people and always had time, a smile and a funny story to share. She loved children and good food. For several years, she and David volunteered as Food Area Coordinators at Common Ground and worked hard to promote MOFGA's mission while helping other vendors meet area guidelines. We will miss Kristen's beautiful smile and laughter and will always remember her when we visit the Gardners' falafel booth.
Wes Daniel and his 11-year-old ox Bill
Wes Daniel's 11-year-old ox Bill. The 2010 Common Ground Fair was Bill’s final fair. Photo courtesy of Wes Daniel.

On Saturday morning of the 2010 Common Ground Country Fair, Wes Daniel’s 11-year-old ox Bill died in his stall of natural causes. Bill and his yoke mate Bob have been part of the Fair family since 2001, attracting and instructing crowds with quiet power and faithful labor. The training and conditioning put in by Wes and his family and their willingness to share their animals with MOFGA is perhaps eclipsed only by the loyalty and enthusiasm of the animals themselves. Thanks to the gracious donation of midnight excavator work by Davis Dirtworks of Thorndike, Bill is now at rest where his best work was done, at MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center, his burial spot marked by the stones of his last load pulled.

– Eli Berry

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