|Pheonix Obrien and Megan Gardner are the current farmers-in-residence at MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center. English photo
|Plant breeder Frank Morton. Photo by Claire Luby
|Anne (left) and Jack Lazor of Butterworks Farm.
MOFGA's Farmer-in-Residence Program: Incubating Farmers on the Fairgrounds
By Holli Cederholm
The 250-plus acres of land in Unity, Maine, on which MOFGA operates its educational programs and organic certification services, is perhaps best known as the "fairgrounds." Tens of thousands of attendees annually flock there to attend MOFGA's Common Ground Country Fair for a long September weekend, the third weekend after Labor Day. Inside this web of activity is a working farm − albeit in a nontraditional sense.
At Last the Seed: Can the Open Source Seed Initiative Be a Game-Changer?
By CR Lawn
If one views modern economic history as a dialectical struggle between those who would preserve the commons as a resource shared by all and those who would enclose it for their own private benefit, the recent history of seed provides an object lesson. For generation upon generation, millennia upon millennia, through happenstance, observation and diligence, farmers, as keepers of the seed, saved the best and improved our food crops in a co-evolutionary dance with plants.
Farmers' Markets Get a Leg Up: A Look at the Maine Federation of Farmers' Markets
By Stowell P. Watters
A farmer is a thousand things, but chiefly he or she is a businessperson. The viability of any farm comes down to the numbers. Is the business economically sustainable? Growing a healthy crop of beets is one thing, but how and where are you going to sell those beets? Enter the farmers' market.
Lessons Learned from 40 Years on the Same Farm
Jack and Anne Lazor of Butterworks Farm in Westfield, Vermont, gave a moving keynote speech at MOFGA's 2015 Farmer to Farmer Conference. They talked about the 40-year history of their farm, building soil health with a grass-fed dairy herd and with fewer tilled row crops, marketing, the increasing expenses resulting from insurance and regulations, and about passing their business on to the next generation.
At MOFGA's November 2015 Farmer to Farmer Conference, Jack and Anne Lazor of Butterworks Farm in Westfield, Vermont, and Caitlin Frame and Andy Smith of The Milkhouse in Monmouth, Maine, talked about value-added dairy. The Milkhouse is a MOFGA-certified organic dairy and processor.
The Once and Future Cow, or, Why Eat Organic and Local?
By Joann S. Grohman
Maine has the highest rate of new farmers in the 48 states; we've gained 1,000 just in the past 10 years. Many of these new farmers will, I hope, consider keeping one or several cows, as nearly everyone did until less than 100 years ago. Even in towns, the household cow was the basis of the family food supply.
Maine Board of Pesticides Control 2015 Recap
By Katy Green and Jean English
In order to provide more in-depth and integrated coverage of meetings of the Maine Board of Pesticides Control (BPC), The MOF&G is making this annual report covering all 2015 meetings, rather than the quarterly reports we previously ran.
Why We Homestead
Spiritual, political and philosophical reasons to homestead in the 21st century
By Anneli Carter-Sundqvist
Living in self-reliance and simplicity is something many dream about and some fulfill by living as homesteaders. My husband, Dennis, and I do that on Deer Isle, Maine, where we have a small off-the-grid homestead. We grow and store almost all of our food, rely on solar for electricity, produce our own lumber and firewood, raise pigs and chickens, and meet our minimal financial needs at home by running the Deer Isle Hostel through the summer.
|Terraces at Will Bonsall's Khadighar Farm. Bonsall photo
|Growing figs in Maine. Photo by Lauren Errickson
|Rudy Kelly, an ardent heirloom apple tree sleuth. Abbey Verrier photo
Terracing Can Improve Soil Water and Nutrient Relations
By Will Bonsall
Around the world people have used terraces since ancient times to grow crops on steep hillsides. The benefit of preventing soil erosion is obvious, but an equal value is reduced runoff of soluble minerals with rain. Flat land has the opposite challenge: Excess water tends to sit on overly flat land too long; having no place to go, it can plug soil pores and exclude air. A form of terracing can remedy that as well.
Growing Cold-Hardy Figs in a High Tunnel in Maine
By Bill Errickson
Figs, native to the Middle East and Western Asia, are one of the earliest cultivated plants in the world, with origins that go back over 11,000 years. Exceptionally high in calcium, the fruits grow on self-fertile trees with minimal pest and disease issues. They can be enjoyed fresh, and they dry well for winter storage, potentially providing off-season income for farmers and local fruit for consumers.
The Resilient Homesteader: Homemade Bokashi Bucket
By Adam Tomash
My last article on bokashi (the Japanese word for "fermented organic matter" and a way to compost; see the winter 2015 issue of The MOF&G) described a commercially available bucket with a drain and perforated platform. These commercial buckets are somewhat pricey, and the lids are difficult to remove and replace and are prone to breakage. I decided to see if I could improve on the design and lower the cost by using readily available tools and materials. This is what I came up with.
Food Safety Modernization Act Takeaway for Cheese Makers and Other Food Processors
By Eric Rector
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the first major overhaul of U.S. food safety practices since 1938, includes new regulations for produce farms and for facilities that process food for people to eat. It was signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011, and on Nov. 13, 2015, the FDA released its final FSMA rules. The act is intended to shift the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it.
One of Many: A Maine Heritage Orchard Volunteer
By Abbey Verrier and Angus Deighan
A few years ago, Rudy Kelly and his girlfriend, Phoebe Barnes, were driving to the Common Ground Country Fair when they got a call from Kelly's Uncle Tommy. It was important, so they turned around and headed back to Mount Desert Island. When Kelly's father was a child, the family portrait was always taken in front of an apple tree that grew by the house. The house was now gone, and the land sold. Tommy was the only surviving relative who knew were to find that tree, and he was dying.
Orchard Pest Thresholds
By C.J. Walke
The term "threshold" is used in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies to describe the level at which pest pressure and crop damage have reached the point where plant health will start to decline and/or crop damage will result in reduced yields.
Livestock Meeting Notes, 2015
By Diane Schivera, M.A.T.
This is my annual wrap-up of meetings I attended in 2015, beginning with the Northeast Pasture Consortium meeting in Morgantown, W. Virginia.
The Incredible Edible Egg
By Cheryl Wixson
Now that the longer days of spring are almost here, we are enjoying a surplus of local farm eggs. Considered one of the world's healthiest foods, eggs are eaten by every culture around the globe.
The Taste of Spring
By Roberta Bailey
With the January snows came a desire to make soup. And with the cooking came an increased love of my own homegrown vegetables, berries and meat. And yes, a raspberry pie. Some winters I have tired of root cellar fare and looked to the supermarket to brighten the plate, but this past year I honored every apple and cabbage down there with heightened appreciation.
MOFGA Achieves $3 Million Fundraising Goal
|Mrs. Polly Guth, benefactor of the Partridge Foundation, which recently donated $2 million to MOFGA's educational endowment, surrounded by MOFGA journeypersons and organic farming champions. Lynda Munsey photo
|The increase in amounts of pesticides distributed in Maine has alarmed MOFGA and several other groups and individuals in the state. Source: Maine Board of Pesticides Control
"Education is at the heart of MOFGA's work. Whether it be training people how to grow organic vegetables, or how to slaughter and process a pig, or training the next generation of farmers – education is at MOFGA's core," said Alice Percy, MOFGA board president and organic farmer from Whitefield, in January. "That is why it is especially exciting to announce that we have completed a campaign to raise $3 million to support our educational programs endowment."
Organic Farming Pays Homage to the Planet and People
By Ted Quaday, MOFGA Executive Director
It is possible that people have been celebrating planet Earth for as long as they have been banding together and creating social orders. Ancient civilizations found numerous ways to celebrate the rising and setting of the sun, the phases of the moon, the changing of the seasons and the passing of the years, so celebration of planet Earth seems as natural as nature itself.
Ecosystem-based Solutions to Pesticides
By Jean English, Editor, The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener
With this issue of The MOF&G, we begin our annual coverage of the Maine Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) meetings, rather than our previous quarterly coverage. Annual coverage enables us to step back and see trends – and lack of trends – more clearly. One trend this year was that of business as usual: The bulk of the BPC work is to license pesticide applicators; to approve special exemptions for pesticide uses, including applying herbicides near bodies of water to control invasive species and poison ivy; and to "fine" (produce "consent agreements") minimally those who violate Maine's rules regarding pesticides.
Reviews and Resources
Horse-Powered Farming for the 21st Century
Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate
The New Peasantries
Before We Eat: From Farm to Table
Organic Wild Blueberry Culture
Cover Cropping for Pollinators and Beneficial Insects
Organic Certification Made Simple: Bite by Bite
The Farmer's Guide to Agricultural Credit
Organic Farming Handbook
Co-Managing Farm Stewardship with Food Safety GAPs and Conservation Practices