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  You are here:  PublicationsMaine Organic Farmer & GardenerSpring 2013MOFGA Notes   
 MOFGA Notes – Spring 2013 Minimize


MOFGA Staff Profile – Emily Horton
Spring 2013 Seed Swap and Scion Exchange
Garlic Questions? MOFGA’s Spring Growth Conference Has Answers
Earth Day Volunteer Work Day
Farm and Homestead Day at MOFGA, 2013
MOFGA Heritage Orchard
MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee Empty Bowl Supper
Trails Coalition Makes Headway
Congratulations to …
Deepest condolences to …

Emily Horton, MOFGA’s administrative assistant, is like a living search engine, responding to and/or directing callers and visitors to appropriate resources at MOFGA.


MOFGA Staff Profile – Emily Horton

Emily was born and raised in Montville, Maine, where her family ran one of the early MOFGA-certified organic diversified farms. Before coming to MOFGA she worked at Chase Farm in Freedom, Maine (which owns and supplies Chase’s Daily in Belfast) for more than four years, where her love for food, farming and agriculture was reestablished. She started working with MOFGA in the summer of 2010 as the Common Ground Country Fair assistant and is now the administrative assistant for the organization. She is a graduate of Lesley University's Audubon Expedition Institute, where she traveled throughout the United States and Hawaii studying the social, political 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 serves on the board of the Sheepscot Wellspring Land Alliance (SWLA), is the chairperson of the SWLA education and outreach committee and is currently obtaining her master’s degree in public health through the University of New England. Ed. note: Just after Emily answered these interview questions, MOFGA hired her as its new events coordinator, so as we went to press she was transitioning from being administrative assistant to her new job.


Q. You've worked at MOFGA for almost three years now. What is it like being the "front desk" person at MOFGA and the person who most often answers the phone?

A. With my job, I have to know what’s going on not only within MOFGA but within the larger MOFGA constituency. Whether it’s a question related to one of our departments, knowing where to get a specific product in the state for a member, understanding new markets or grant opportunities for farmers, or the latest food recall from the USDA, I need to be ready with answers. I love being the central “hub” of information; it keeps me educated and up-to-date on relevant information.


Q. What else do you do on your job?

A. In addition to the daily administrative tasks that keep me running up and down the office stairs, I manage MOFGA’s social media accounts – Facebook and Twitter. I am an administrator for the mofga.net site, helping members create, edit and update their profiles online. I manage the business member directory on mofga.net, the classified ads for The MOF&G newspaper, and help manage our year-round volunteers at MOFGA. I also help manage the MOFGA store and work closely with our membership/database manager.



Q. How do you use your bachelor of science degree in social and environmental issues while on the job?


A. With my undergraduate degree from Lesley University, I was able to focus on food policy and how it relates to social and environmental issues. One semester I studied NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) and went to Mexico to see how it affected farmers there. Another semester I lived completely off the grid while calculating our ecological footprint. All this knowledge led me to understand the importance of organic, small-scale agriculture, which ultimately led me to MOFGA. It’s my education that inspires me to come to work at MOFGA every day.

Q. What is your specific interest within the public health field?

A. Food and agriculture are completely related to Public Health. Food education and nutrition, food safety and food access are primary focus areas I hope to continue to explore with this degree. There is a big window of opportunity for making change with a public health degree and with my agriculture and environmental background.



Q. What kind of farming do you do in Washington?


A. Our goal is to provide food for our family – myself, my boyfriend, parents, six siblings and their families, who live from Maine to Pennsylvania. It’s like a family CSA. Last year we had more than 50 meat birds, 10 laying hens, four turkeys and two Boer goats. The year before we had three cows, and this year we are getting two pigs. Our main focus is the family garden. We canned more than 300 quarts of vegetables, juices and jams in addition to a freezer full of frozen meats, vegetables and fruits. Most of it went to family members as Christmas presents. My mom is the mastermind behind the canning – she is amazingly gifted at the art.



Q. As a board member of the Sheepscot Wellspring Land Alliance, do you see that organization interacting or intersecting much with MOFGA?

A. Yes. Both MOFGA and SWLA are nonprofits that strive to be good stewards of the earth – MOFGA through organic agriculture and SWLA through land preservation. I am so grateful to be engaged in both. [Ed. note: MOFGA and SWLA are both members of the Waldo Country Trails Coalition as well.]


Q. What else would you like the MOFGA membership to know about you and/or about MOFGA?

A. It’s been an honor to watch the changes occur at MOFGA. As a kid, I remember coming to the fair as a vendor with my parents. People often thought of MOFGA and the fair as the “hippie” movement, but those stereotypes are changing. With the young MOFGA staff, new and young farmers moving to Maine, the enormous numbers of volunteers at the fair and the national attention organic agriculture has recently gotten, the views of MOFGA have changed even though the mission, values and traditions of the organization have stayed primarily the same.

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Spring 2013 Seed Swap and Scion Exchange

Sunday, March 24, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For gardeners and orchardists, it’s like the most wonderful flea market in the world. Not only that but most of the best stuff is free!  

On Sunday, March 24, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., MOFGA, the Maine Tree Crop Alliance and Fedco will once again host the combined Seed Swap and Scionwood Exchange, at MOFGA’s Common Ground Exhibition Hall in Unity.   

Please note that this year we're starting early! You won't want to miss the expanded selection of educational workshops. As always, Mark Fulford will teach his annual grafting class. Other workshops will cover permaculture, organic orcharding, cider making, seed saving and more. John Bunker will talk about MOFGA's new heritage orchard (see article on this page). 

Please bring any seeds, scionwood or cuttings you have to share freely with others. Last year we gave away scionwood from well over 200 fruit varieties. These contributions make the day a success. We’ll supply labels, tape and markers, and we’ll be selling T-shirts, books, grafting supplies and rootstock. Admission is free. For more information, including a complete list of workshops, see mofga.org or call MOFGA (568-4142).

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Garlic Questions? MOFGA’s Spring Growth Conference Has Answers

Garlic! That’s the topic of MOFGA’s March 30 Spring Growth Conference. The day will feature a 10 a.m. keynote by David Stern of Rose Valley Farm and the Garlic Seed Foundation (www.garlicseedfoundation.info/stern.htm). After lunch a panel of Maine garlic growers, moderated by Eric Sideman, MOFGA’s organic crop specialist, will share their knowledge about garlic. This is a great opportunity for farmer-to-farmer networking and information exchange. For more information, including cost, click on the Events tab at www.mofga.org.

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Earth Day Volunteer Work Day

On Sunday, April 21, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., MOFGA will host its annual Earth Day Volunteer Work Day at our Common Ground Education Center in Unity. Come join MOFGA’s landscaping committee members as we prepare the gardens, grounds and orchards for the growing season. Projects will include garden cleanup, tree care and small carpentry projects.

This is a great opportunity to meet other MOFGA supporters, to learn about organic landscape maintenance, and to get some fresh air in your lungs and dirt under your nails! Lunch will be provided and volunteers will receive a free T-shirt. For more information, contact Joe Dupere at jdupere@mofga.org or (207) 568-4142. We hope to see you there!

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Farm and Homestead Day at MOFGA, 2013

So many people asked, “Whatever happened to Small Farm Field Day?” that a group of dedicated volunteers resurrected the event as Farm and Homestead Day at MOFGA. The emphasis is on teaching rural living skills through a variety of hands-on activities. The event will be held this year on Saturday, June 15, 2013.

This year’s tentative schedule of workshops include a series on what to look for when choosing livestock, such as chickens, meat and dairy goats, draft horses, fiber goats, rabbits and sheep. The fiber area will again have spinning, weaving, carding and felting. Children’s activities will include papermaking, building bird boxes, and more. New this year will be a low-tech track with sessions on building a rocket stove, DIY solar hot water, using treadle sewing machines and other treadle-powered tools. Additional tracks will cover organic orcharding, low-impact forestry, herbs and gardening, including last year’s popular “Kids Can Grow.” More will be added as we get closer to the event; check the Farm and Homestead Day link in the MOFGA events calendar at www.mofga.org.

Farm and Homestead Day at MOFGA is a volunteer-driven, skill-share event with its own steering committee, so volunteers are needed to share their skills, ideas and energies. If you are interested in volunteering in any capacity or have thoughts about the event, please contact the Farm and Homestead Day Rabble at farmandhomesteadday@myfairpoint.net or contact Joe Dupere at jdupere@mofga.org.

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MOFGA Heritage Orchard

At its October 2012 meeting, the MOFGA board of directors unanimously passed a motion to establish a new preservation heritage orchard on MOFGA’s land. The orchard will be located in the 10-acre abandoned gravel pit behind the “Lee Crosby house” to the north of the fairgrounds. 

With help from a USDA NRCS grant, we will begin the project this spring. Our first task will be to bring in heavy equipment to reconfigure the topography of the site – which is currently very uneven, with deep depressions remaining from gravel mining in the past. We’ll create a new, more uniform and gentle slope, plant cover crops and put up fencing. 

The first 100 fruit trees – already grafted and in a nursery – are scheduled to be planted in 2014.

This big project will save rare apple and pear varieties from extinction. Eventually we’ll plant about 500 fruit trees – traditional varieties grown in Maine. Some will be known to heirloom enthusiasts; many others are extremely rare; some have yet to be identified. Trees will be planted on standard rootstock and should provide fruit and grafting scionwood for the next 150 years. 

The certified organic orchard will incorporate polyculture and permaculture strategies, with hundreds of woody and herbaceous plants growing among the apples and pears. We hope the project will inspire people everywhere to save their local plant heritage and to think and act creatively about degraded land. 

For more information about the orchard, including how to get involved and how to donate to the project, please contact the MOFGA office.

A bowl made by Christopher Signorino of Belfast for the Empty Bowl Supper.

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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 27, at 6 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Miller St. in Belfast.

Each year MOFGA's El Salvador Sistering Committee, thanks to the generosity of the Unitarian Universalist Church, serves 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, water supplies, communities 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 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 or leave bowls at the MOFGA office. Thanks!

Congratulations to Raffle Winners

Congratulations to the two winners of the MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee raffle! Pam Bell of Leeds, Maine, won Cheryl Wixson’s winter CSA share, and Nancy Scoven won a summer CSA share from Hatchet Cove Farm. Thanks to everyone who supported this fundraiser!

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Trails Coalition Makes Headway

Thanks to efforts of 18 Unity College students in an Environmental Citizen class and members of the Waldo Country Trails Coalition, some 4 more miles of hiking trails were created in Unity last fall. These new trails connect Unity College with MOFGA, traversing woodland and fields and including a gorgeous view of Unity Pond.

In the fall of 2011, 20 other students from Unity College created 2 miles of hiking trails at MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center. Both classes also created educational materials related to the trails.

MOFGA is one of eight organizations in The Waldo County Trails Coalition. The others are Unity Barn Raisers, Sebasticook Regional Land Trust, Unity College, Sheepscot Wellspring Land Alliance, Maine Farmland Trust, Future MSAD3 and Georges River Land Trust. Six of these organizations currently manage hiking trails in the region between Unity and Frye Mountain and together maintain more than 40 miles of trails on lands owned by the organizations and by private landowners. The coalition formed to link those existing trail systems and create a trail from Unity to Frye Mountain over the next couple of years. A technical assistance grant from the National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program has helped organize this effort.

A celebratory walk of the new trail is tentatively planned for June 1, 2013 – National Trails Day.

MOFGA welcomes Jasper Silas Schravesande-Gardei, son of Jaco and Chris Schravesande-Gardei.

 

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Congratulations to…

Jaco and Chris Schravesande-Gardei on the January birth of their son, Jasper Silas. Jaco, MOFGA Certification Services’ associate director of crops, reports that the family is doing well.

Emily Horton, MOFGA’s administrative assistant, who was among the women receiving the Grassroots Leadership Award from the Environmental Health Strategy Center. The 24 Maine moms and activists, organized by the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine, rode the bus to the National Stroller Brigade in Washington, D.C., in May 2012 to support the Safe Chemicals Act. The other honorees were Helen Anderson, Veronica Boucher, Lalla Carothers, Valerie Carter, Sally Chappell, Melanie Collins, Melissa Fiori, Dana Hernandez, Jenna Horner, Ginger Jordan-Hillier, Bettie Kettell, Kathy Kilrain del Rio, Katheryn Langelier, Robin Levesque, Bridgett McCoy, Diane Messer, Megan Rice, Sam Sewall and Jaynelle Smith.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds and Rob Johnston Jr. for receiving a 2013 All America Selection award for their new cherry tomato ‘Jasper’. The AAS committee noted its excellent taste, long harvest window, high yield, good texture and sweetness, uniformity of fruits, vigorous, healthy plants, and resistance to late blight, Fusarium races 1 and 2, early blight and weather-related stresses. Fruits hold well after ripening both on and off the vine. Other Johnny's-bred AAS varieties are ‘Baby Bear’ pumpkin, ‘Bright Lights’ Swiss chard, ‘Diva’ cucumber, ‘Sunshine’ kabocha squash, ‘Bonbon’ buttercup squash and ‘Carmen’ pepper.

the Unity College Board of Trustees for voting to divest the college endowment from fossil fuels. College president Stephen Mulkey wrote about this move at
http://sustainabilitymonitor.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/unity-college-board-of-trustees-votes-to-divest-from-fossil-fuels/.

Lincolnville herbalist Kathi Langelier, whose Herbal Revolution received the Best Overall Herbal Products Line award, the grand prize at the October 2012 American Herbalist Guild Symposium.

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Deepest condolences to the family, friends and community of…

Russell Libby, who died of cancer in December. MOFGA is so fortunate to have had such a visionary leader. Shortly before he died, Russell received Maine Farmland Trust’s highest honor – its Paul Birdsall Award. Longtime organic farmer Paul Birdsall of Penobscot is known as the father of farmland protection in Maine. The award, which recognizes sustained and inspiring contributions to Maine agriculture, is given only when circumstances warrant, according to MFT’s fall 2012 newsletter. Libby, who served as MOFGA’s executive director for more than 17 years, helped found MFT and was on its board for 13 years. Upon receiving the award at MFT’s annual meeting in October, Libby told attendees, “We need to be thinking well beyond saving 100,000 acres of farmland, and thinking about how we can return a million acres or more to production.”

Karen Ireland of Belfast. A psychiatric nurse, activist (most recently demonstrating against the Keystone XL pipeline), permaculturist and former member of MOFGA’s El Salvador Sistering Committee, Karen died of cancer in January.

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