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  You are here:  PublicationsMaine Organic Farmer & GardenerSpring 2014   
 The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener – Spring 2014 Minimize

Jim Nichols with his parents, Lois and Nick.
English photo.
Laura Neal of Black Kettle Farm. Sue Neale photo.


Sowing and Reaping a Farming Life
By Jean English
Lois and Mahlon “Nick” Nichols raised five children (one now a MOFGA certified organic grower, Jim Nichols) on a Dewitt, Michigan, farm. During a recent visit to Maine, they talked to The MOF&G about the difficulties and rewards of the farming life they began more than 60 years ago. Many current MOFGA growers may see parallels.

The Dance of Distribution
By Betsy Garrold
Hard work and quality are recurring themes when you talk to the crew at Crown O’ Maine Organic Cooperative (COMOC). Since the early days, when Jim and Kate Cook delivered local, quality potatoes in their family van, to the present, when daughters Leah and Marada Cook run the business, COMOC has emphasized doing things right – while keeping the company at a human scale.

Laura Neale: Dug In at Black Kettle Farm
By Stowell Watters
After years of traveling Laura Neale dreamed of her own great land acquisition, but, as many young farmers in Maine soon learn, a gung-ho attitude is not the only tool needed to find one’s own farm. Neale also needed a great amount of resilience.

Focus on Marketing: Telling Your Farm Story
How can you connect with customers through social media? Farmers highlighted their storytelling strategies at a marketing session at MOFGA’s 2013 Farmer to Farmer Conference.

The Kneading Conference Grows Maine’s Grain Economy
By Amy Halloran
The Kneading Conference began in 2007 with a few tents and mobile ovens in a church parking lot. Now those tents and ovens congregate at the Skowhegan fairgrounds each July, drawing people from all over the world to Maine for hands-on bread workshops, for talks and presentations on all the things that lead to bread – especially ovens and grains.

A Credit Union for Local Food Sustainability?
By Scott Budde, Project Director
What if a credit union were created that focused on the unique needs of small, sustainably run farms and related businesses? This is the central question of the Maine Food System Credit Project (MFSCP) – a feasibility project sponsored jointly by MOFGA and Maine Farmland Trust.

Toki Oshima illustration.

Forest Restoration Heroes and Natural Ecosystem Restoration
By Céline Caron
Jean Giono’s 1953 novel The Man Who Planted Trees continues to inspire people, communities and villages worldwide to reforest degraded lands. Reforestation projects in Provence and in Canada refer to this book – an appeal to save our ecological heritage. We can leave no better legacy for future generations than a thriving natural forest and natural ecosystems. A forest renews itself constantly and increases in value over time. An individual, a family or a community can plant trees, reaping benefits for hundreds of years.

My Comments on Agricultural Coexistence
By CR Lawn
In recent years both the USDA and Maine Department of Agriculture have openly pushed a program of coexistence between organic farmers and farmers who choose to use transgenic technology (genetically engineered crops – also called GE crops or GMOs). In 2011 the USDA reconvened the Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture (AC21) following its highly controversial approval of GE alfalfa. The USDA has asked for public comments on the recommendations in the AC21 report. Following are my slightly abridged comments.

Toki Oshima illustration.
Medlars. Will Bonsall photo.
Collards and kale. English photo.
Maine Heritage Orchard map by John Bunker.

Shmita: An Agricultural Sabbatical
By Grace Oedel
Last month I had the privilege of attending the Hazon Food Conference in Falls Village, Connecticut, an annual gathering of people involved in the “New Jewish Food Movement” interested in growing a resilient food system rooted in religious ethics. Although many farmers might not share my voracious appetite for holy texts, I believe Biblical exploration offers us all a window into an agricultural life that sustained many generations.

Organic Farmers as Role Models and Change Leaders
By Atina Diffley
Organic farmers have a sacred, fundamental, philosophical relationship to the land – a relationship worth fighting for. So said Atina Diffley, author of Turn Here Sweet Corn, during her keynote speech at MOFGA’s 2013 Farmer to Farmer Conference.

Medlars – A Fruit to Improve
By Will Bonsall
When I speak of medlars, people are apt to assume that I’m referring to folks who stick their noses into other folks’ business, but in this case I’m talking about a little-known and less-grown fruit. Despite its botanical name, Mespilus germanica, and its long cultivation in northern Europe, the plant actually originated in southwestern Asia, especially the Black Sea coast of Turkey.

Collards: Greens Worth Growing!
By Jean Ann Pollard
Collards. Until a few years ago, this big, paddle-leafed member of the cabbage family – Brassica oleracea, Acephala group – was considered strictly Southern in the United States, but, as the song says, “the times, they are a changin’.”

Harvest Kitchen – Rhubarb
By Roberta Bailey
I don’t grow rhubarb. My neighbor has a double row with more than 20 plants in it. I just cross the street and pick what I need. Walking back to my house, a bundle of red stalks in my arms, I get to take in the view of my farm. I like the shift in perspective. I like the broadened view. I like the little discoveries that happen along the journey – a closer look at the rose of Sharon bush, or the pear in blossom; how the peach buds fared on this side of the road. This is a well established rhubarb patch and part of a well established friendship, one filled with many favors, both ways, and no tally sheet.

FAQ on Kitchen Licensing
By Cheryl Wixson
We operate a diversified organic farm with a surplus of goat milk, honey, fruits and vegetables that we would like to process and sell at farmers’ markets and our farm stand. What type of license is required?

Maine Heritage Orchard Update
By John Bunker
The first year of the Maine Heritage Orchard (MeHO) was a big success. In August 2013 we did major earth work in MOFGA’s 10-acre gravel pit site. We reduced the slope of the steepest parts of the pit and created rock-lined spillways to divert excess water and reduce erosion. We reconfigured about 2 acres into terraces that will be home to the first 100 apple and pear trees. Each terrace features a 2-foot-deep trench (or “swale”) filled with wood chips, designed to catch, absorb and disperse water into the huge growing beds that curve with the contour of the hillside. It’s a little like the mountainsides of Peru or Viet Nam right here in Maine.

Genetically Engineered Arctic Apples – Coming to a Store Near You?
By C. J. Walke
Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc., based in Summerland, British Columbia, has genetically engineered (GE) two varieties of “non-browning” apple to resist enzymatic browning. Enzymatic browning is the oxidation of apple flesh once it’s cut open and exposed it to oxygen in the air. Anyone who’s ever cut an apple has observed this process, as it results in browning.

Managing Ectoparasites in Livestock
By Diane Schivera, M.A.T.
Ectoparasites (parasites that live on the outside of the host) can cause large financial losses to livestock farmers if not managed in a way to reduce populations.

Basil Downy Mildew
By Eric Sideman, Ph.D.
This winter I have been lecturing at organic growers’ meetings about new and emerging insects and diseases. I don't know if the weather, the climate or some other factor is to blame, but for the first time I am hearing about enough previously unheard-of problems to fill an entire hour of discussion.

Ted Quaday, MOFGA's executive director, with Gov. LePage and Walt Whitcomb, commissioner of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. Spalding photo.
Milkweed seeds. English photo.

Letter
CDC Stats on EEE and WNV, Bob Lodato, Charleston

Editorials

MOFGA Celebrates Labeling Law for Genetically Engineered Foods
By Ted Quaday, MOFGA Executive Director
In January, MOFGA and our allies gathered in Augusta to celebrate our win in the drive for a labeling law for genetically engineered (GE) foods. On January 9, 2014, Governor Paul LePage delivered on a promise he made last summer and affixed a symbolic signature to the measure (LD 718) enabling the Right to Know Act to become law. It was a historic moment in Maine. With approval, we became just the second state in the nation to require labels on GE foods (sometimes called GMOs, or genetically modified organisms).

Reduced Reliance on Chemical Pesticides – A Follow-through Strategy
By Mitch Lansky
In agriculture, some interests are promoting expanded use of herbicide-resistant crops, and thus, by definition, expanded dependence on herbicides. Some interests are promoting expansion of monocultures of specialized crops that are highly susceptible to insect infestations and thus more dependent on chemical insecticides.

What Do We Want – Monarchs or Corn Syrup?
By Jean English, Editor, The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener
Every fall when our children were young, my husband would collect milkweed pods from a thousand-square-foot patch of Asclepias syriaca that grows on our land and store the seedpods in a paper bag over winter. In spring, when the swallows returned, he and the kids would scatter the parachuted seeds from our second-story deck, anticipating that the swallows would use some of the silken fluff in their nests.

Book Reviews
The End of Fossil Energy (Fourth Edition): What Next? It’s Up To You
Russell Libby’s Poems: What You Should Know
The Dirty Life: a Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love
The Organic Grain Grower: Small-Scale, Holistic Grain Production for the Home and Market Producer

Resources
Innovations in Local Food Enterprise: Fresh Ideas for a Just and Profitable Food System
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association Enterprise Budgets
ATTRA’s “Farmer Knows Best” forum
An Introduction to Organic Dairy Production
University of Vermont Farmer Training Program
A Farmer's Guide to Food Safety and Conservation: Facts, Tips and Frequently Asked Questions
Agroforestry: USDA Reports to America
A Race Horse Herbal


  

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