|New American Sustainable Agriculture Project graduate Jabril Abdi pauses in his corn field. Greta Rybus photo.
|Gardens at Deer Isle Hostel. Photo by Anneli Carter-Sundqvist.
|Julian Makin, an organic farmer in Belize, with his family. Brendan Keegan photo.
The New American Farmers
By Stowell P. Watters
Refugees do not just leave their homes; they flee from them. Met with insurmountable challenges, such as finding food and safety, the Somali Bantu people report to refugee camps and are then resettled in huge cities such as Sacramento, Atlanta, Memphis or Kansas City. From the big cities the Bantu can move freely, often choosing a secondary home in a smaller city where the rigors of metropolitan life are lessened. One such resettlement location is the Maine city of Lewiston, on the Androscoggin River.
It Takes Many Hands to Grow a Farm
By Sue Smith-Heavenrich
If you visit Many Hands Farm in Thorndike, the first thing you notice is the abundance of flowers: sunflowers, coneflowers, beebalm and calendula. Lots of calendula. The air is filled with the hum of bees and the occasional chuckle of hens or bleat of a goat.
Rediscovering the Family Farm
By Grace Oedel
My husband and I recently moved in with my in-laws with the intention of farming family land. I wish I could say this was a smooth, easy process, but we all struggled. We were unused to what it meant to live together. We had differing expectations about how to communicate, how to spend time together, how to tend the land, how to live.
Our Homestead Gardens – Form is Function
By Anneli Carter-Sundqvist
Our organic gardens are the hub of our homestead. They serve many functions, such as increasing our self-reliance and food security, adding to the beauty of our farm, fostering our health, providing teaching opportunities, adding to the uniqueness of our lodging business and enabling our very limited need of money.
The Fight for Sustainable Agriculture in El Salvador
In October 2014, Edith Portillo, community organizer and board member of the Association for the Development of El Salvador (CRIPDES), spoke at Unity College in Unity, Maine, about Salvadorans' move toward sustainable, organic agriculture – with a special focus on women's roles in that movement. The talk was part of a tour of sistering groups after the annual gathering of USESSC in Austin, Texas.
Common Ground Country Fair Inspires Belize Organic Fair and Forum
By Michele Christle
Photos by Brendan Keegan
It's impossible not to be inspired when visiting the Common Ground Country Fair. The produce, the animals, the people, the workshops – there's something for everyone. That's what Nana Mensah found in 2007 when he attended Common Ground.
On Common Ground
By Kami Pendleton
I have been coming to the Fair almost all my life, but I had a chance to view it through new eyes – that is, through my camera – this year, as I photographed the event for part of my internship through Nokomis Regional High School. In doing this project, I drew on the skills I gained at a summer workshop at the Maine Media College.
Agricultural Soil, More Precious than Oil
By Céline Caron
The 68th UN General Assembly declared 2015 the International Year of Soils, and one of the themes for the 2014 permaculture convergence held in July in Frelishburg, Quebec, was “Solutions are in nature.” A good part of the permaculture conference was devoted to soils. Here are the main points of a talk I presented at the permaculture conference.
|Sweet corn. USDA photo.
|Farmers at Tourne-Sol Co-operative Farm in Quebec.
2014 Farmer to Farmer Conference
Organic Sweet Corn: Potential for Profits
Organic sweet corn has profit potential for farms and is a great draw to farm stands and farmers' markets – if grown well. David Handley, UMaine Cooperative Extension vegetable and small fruit specialist, and Jack Manix of Walker Farm in Vermont covered this topic at MOFGA's 2014 Farmer to Farmer Conference.
Integrating Seed Production Into a Market Garden at Tourne-Sol Co-operative Farm
Cooperative farming and seed production can help diversify a farm – in terms of workload, income generation and biodiversity. Dan Brisebois of Tourne-Sol Co-operative farm spoke about this at MOFGA's 2014 Farmer to Farmer Conference.
Amaranth: An Ancient Food for Modern Gardens
By Will Bonsall
Amaranth (Amaranthus cruentus) is a New World crop, a staple of the ancient Aztecs, who popped it and mixed it with honey to make a treat somewhere between marzipan and Cracker Jacks. In fact it was such a central part of their Precontact culture that the Spanish Conquistadores felt a need to ban its cultivation and consumption. I suppose it didn't help that it was used in rituals, sometimes mixed with the blood of human sacrifices. Anyway, amaranth use went underground for centuries, grown and eaten in secret. Now its reputation has been thoroughly rehabilitated, due largely to its superior nutritional value and suitability for sustainable crop systems.
Go with Green!
By Cheryl Wixson
Spring is the start of my favorite season of eating. I love the shift from eating root vegetables to just-picked, seasonal and local food. After the cold and dark days of winter, we are enjoying especially a good supply of fresh greens; ruffled leaves of kale, baby spinach, bok choy, ‘Bright Lights' Swiss chard and tender beet greens. Whether in a salad or sautéed, greens are a quick and nutritious addition to any meal.
Recreational Tillage – Gardener, Restrain Yourself!
By Eric Sideman, Ph.D.
The rototiller has gotten a bad rap in recent decades. Perhaps it deserves it, perhaps not; in any case it is important to avoid its misuse in order to preserve soil.
|‘Happy Rich’ gailaan. Photo courtesy Johnny's Selected Seeds.
By Roberta Bailey
Lately, my favorite vegetable is gailaan. Also known as Chinese broccoli or kailaan, it produces greens and a small floret on thick, elongated stems. I crave the firm texture of those stems every time I see or think about them. Walking past the row of gailaan in the garden always means stir fry for dinner.
News and Tips from the Maine Heritage Orchard
By John Bunker
Spring is just around the corner. If you haven't done your pruning and scionwood collecting, now is the time to hop to it. Fruit trees throughout Maine will soon be waking up. You can almost see the buds swelling. On Sunday, March 29, fruit lovers from throughout Maine will descend on the Exhibition Hall at MOFGA for the annual Seed Swap and Scion Exchange.
The Permaculture Orchard: Beyond Organic
A film by Olivier Asselin, with Stefan Sobkowiak
Reviewed by C. J. Walke
This feature-length documentary shows the work of Stefan Sobkowiak and the permaculture orchard he's established at his Miracle Farms, a 12-acre farm in the western Monteregie region of Quebec.
The Promise (and Limitations) of Certified Organic Flower Growing
By Karen Volckhausen
I had the pleasure of attending the flower workshop at MOFGA's Farmer to Farmer Conference in November, presented by flower farmers and florists Carolyn Snell from Snell Family Farm in Buxton, Maine, and Polly and Mike Hutchison from Robin Hollow Farm in Saunderstown, Rhode Island. I was so inspired by their talk at last year's New England Vegetable and Fruit Conference that I couldn't wait to hear more.
A Multitude of Ideas from Meetings and Workshops
By Diane Schivera, M.A.T.
Winter is a good time to review notes from meetings, workshops and field days from the previous year. Here are some high points from some 2014 events I attended.
• Beware the Imported Pig!
• How to Find Truly Organic Stock
An Open Letter to Maine's Alternative Farming Community
Protecting Pollinators from Bayer and Syngenta
Maine's Organic Farmers Need a Living Wage
By Alice Percy, MOFGA Board President
I open my term as MOFGA board president by telling a dirty secret: Most MOFGA farmers earn very little, and something's got to give or MOFGA's vision of a better food system will die an early death.
Save Your Soil. Feed Your Soil. Love Your Soil. Soil is Life.
By Jean English, Editor, The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener
Practicing organic farming and gardening is seen as a life or death situation in El Salvador, said Edith Portillo when she spoke in Maine last fall as a representative of the U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities organization. (MOFGA is part of that organization through its sistering partnership with organic agriculture groups in El Salvador. See the story on Portillo's visit in this issue of The MOF&G.)
MOFGA: Strong and Growing
By Ted Quaday, MOFGA President
As we gear up for another season of program activities here in Unity, let's take a moment to pause and consider the tremendous depth of our organization. The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association is strong and growing. With 43 years of service to organic farmers, homesteaders, and many other farm and food activists, MOFGA continues to lead.
• Integrated Forest Gardening: The Complete Guide to Polycultures and Plant Guilds in Permaculture Systems
• Gaining Ground
• Earth Repair – A Grassroots Guide to Healing Toxic and Damaged Landscapes
• Crop Insurance Reports from the Land Stewardship Project
• A Landowners Guide to Perennial Crop Options