"The soil is, as a matter of fact, full of live organisms. It is essential to conceive of it as something pulsating with life, not as a dead or inert mass."
- Albert Howard, The Soil and Health, 1947
|| The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener – Summer 2003
From Darthia to Kingbird Farm – An Apprenticeship Link
|Bill and Cynthia Thayer. Erin James photo.
By Rhonda Houston
“Well, it’s pretty exhausting work,” say Bill and Cynthia Thayer after a moment of thought. A few days after I sat down with the Thayers of Darthia Farm in Gouldsboro, I can’t quite remember if they were referring to the vegetable patch, the Haflinger horses, the wood lot, the spinning and weaving, the sheep, the bagpipes, the funk band or the nearly 200 apprentices they have hosted over the last 25 years.
Journeyperson Program Helps New Farmers Learn & Network
By John Bliss
Last spring, Stacy, Emma and I moved from Pennsylvania to Maine; two whole shades of difference on the zone hardiness map! So for us, spring seemed to last twice as long last year. Before the move, our first set of seedlings broke through their moist soil and stretched toward the window overlooking our West Philadelphia neighborhood. Across the street an abandoned building and a vacant lot served as a resting place for plastic bags and ruffled pigeons. Also nearby was the community garden where our seedlings were destined to root themselves.
MOFGA Members Have Productive Visit to El Salvador “Sister” Farms
By Lucy Funkhouser
In January, a delegation of six MOFGA members and two small farmers from the Intervale in Vermont went to El Salvador together. The interesting, productive and fun two weeks that ensued forged many new connections between farmers in El Salvador and New England.
The Price of Rice: Thai Livelihoods at Stake
By Jean English
The story is the same, only the crop variety and country have been changed. The story is one of small scale farmers who were producing primarily for local markets being told by foreign governments and multinational corporations that they have to change their ways: to monocultures; export crops; synthetic pesticide and fertilizer use; and, eventually, to genetically engineered (GE) crops.
Satoyama: A Japanese Model of Sustainable Harmony
By Kato Sadamichi and Allison Wallace
Imagine for a moment that the Europeans never arrived in the Americas – that the Vikings never stumbled upon the Atlantic’s western shore, and those three little ships sailing out of Portugal never happened upon any Caribbean islands. Imagine that whatever agriculture had been in practice in various parts of North America for millennia never experienced any serious, sudden disruption, such as the widespread loss of native farmers to foreign diseases.
Spring Growth Farmers’ Market Workshop
Old and New Marketers Swap Ideas
By Tom Roberts
On March 28, MOFGA’s Spring Growth conference in Unity was dedicated to an all-day Farmers’ Market Workshop running from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. As I traveled to the conference, I was hoping for a decent turnout, and I was not disappointed.
In Praise of Ramial Chips and Other “Waste” Materials
By Tom Roberts
I get excited about chips. Not potato chips or silicon chips, but wood chips. I believe they are a vastly underutilized resource on the organic farm. Chips are coarser than the coarsest sawdust, shavings or shingle hair. They range in size from a quarter to a slice of bread. In general, we come into contact with three kinds of wood chips: industrial chips, bark chips and ramial chips.
Angleworms: Always the Farmer’s Friend?
By Jean Ann Pollard
Always with us and the farmer’s friend. Right? Is that what you think when you think ‘gardening’ – when you see those long, red angleworms surfacing all over the lawn and under the rhubarb after rain? Probably we all do. But how many references to angleworms have you noted in the index sections of books about farming and gardening?
Building a Homemade Worm Composting System
By Adam Tomash
This article describes a system for processing waste vegetable matter with red wiggler worms (Eisenia fetida). It begins with construction directions for two worm bins and their base and ends with a list of materials and tools needed.
Biological Pest Control in the Greenhouse – A Natural System Just Dying for Balance
By Jean English
Michael Zuck’s fascination with nature’s multiple interactions, combined with the fact that his wife developed severe multiple chemical sensitivity a few years ago, are polar but complementary forces that have made Zuck pursue biological pest control with determination. In his nineteenth year with the business that he and his wife own, Everlasting Farm in Bangor, Zuck has “had fantastic successes and dismal failures in almost equal balance” as he’s experimented with biological control.
Tomato Disease Update
By Eric Sideman, Ph.D., MOFGA’s Director of Technical Services
Some farmers and gardeners like to use the same ground year after year for their tomatoes. Often this works, but often it doesn’t – most commonly because of a few tomato diseases that overwinter on crop debris. The most common disease in the Northeast that leads to a tomato crop failure is early blight. In this article I will point out similarities and differences between early blight and two other tomato diseases that are commonly confused with it, late blight and septoria leaf spot.
Feeding Whole Grains to Chickens
By Diane Schivera, MOFGA Technical Services Assistant
Feed is the most expensive portion of the cost of raising chickens, and this expense is magnified by the fact that most folks feed a ground mash or pellet that is formulated and produced by a feed company. In an attempt to reduce this cost, you can feed laying hens and meat birds, including young birds, whole grains, either as their entire diet or to supplement purchased feed.
Herbal Support for Stressful Times
By Deb Soule
Western herbalists generally call herbs that benefit the nervous system ‘nervines.’ Different categories of nervines exist, but all help improve our ability to cope with life’s challenges.
Bones and Old Plants – The Tenacious Horsetails: A Spring Harvest
By Leslie Wood, with Fredda Paul
Spring shoots of horsetail have just begun to come up from the earth. In the early morning on a small hill in a sandy field, we give thanks with intentions for the harvest. In a chorus of light and redwing blackbirds, we sing for the earth, offer prayers and leave offerings. Then, silently, each goes alone to participate in a way from the past. Timing is important – spring shoots make the essential medicine.
Does Organically Grown Food Taste Better?
By Mort Mather
If you know that I’m a past president of MOFGA, you might think you know how I will answer this question. It is not that simple, though. To begin with, taste is, to a large extent, subjective. Add to that different varieties, different weather conditions, different soil types and different soil management practices, and you can see how foolish you would be betting someone that organic carrots in the supermarket will taste better than conventionally grown carrots in the supermarket.
Grape Leaves for Great Feasting
By Jean Ann Pollard
The type of grape met in New England was Vitis labrusca, the Eastern American or fox grape called the Concord. With slip-skins and a comparatively short ripening period, it’s tart, splendid for jelly or wine-making, and – as anyone from the Middle East knows – its leaves are fine for stuffing.
Ashwood Cookbook – Simple Recipes and Inspirational Art
By Roberta Bailey
“These recipes are our gift to you. They are the ones we love, the ones that work, the ones that carry us through trouble and heartache, celebration and joy.” So begins the Ashwood Cookbook, Food for Family and Friends, a simple yet elegant collection of wholesome recipes gathered by friends of the Ashwood Waldorf School in Rockport, Maine.
Grow Your Own Mulberries
By Roberta Bailey
As a child I knew where every ripening fruit and berry grew, and I watched for them to ripen, eating a lot of unripe fruit in anticipation. Other than peaches, mulberries were the center of my attention. Not content with waiting for the berries to drop, I learned to climb trees to get to the first ripe fruits. I would fill a little purse with them and eat them throughout the day. My mouth, hands and knees, and, I imagine, my clothes, were stained purple for most of the summer. I thank my mother for the freedom to climb and eat with abandon. I am still up in the trees chasing the best of the fruit. Mulberries remain my passion.
Homeopathic Treatments for Mastitis in Cows
MOFGA’s Policy on Sludge
When It Rains, by Sue Smith-Heavenrich
Inca Gold, by Mariana S. Tupper
Local, Organic, Fresh and Raw – Green Bean Time is Here!
By Lisa Turner, 2003 MOFGA President
It’s gardening season! Hurray!! I know that for many of the folks reading this (and certainly for the one writing this), gardening is our reason for being. I garden, therefore I am. Those who can’t garden thrive now when they enjoy the tasty, fresh vegetables at the farmers’ market and in the local health food stores.
By Russell Libby, MOFGA Executive Director
Over the last 18 months, most Maine dairy farmers have seen their monthly milk checks drop by a third. The end of the Northeast Dairy Compact, high milk protein imports, and growing inventories of cheese and butter have pushed milk prices down to 1978 levels.
Would You Like Your Salad With or Without Rocket Fuel?
By Jean English, Editor, The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener
As if we needed another reason to buy local, organic, Maine produce in season – here’s one more, nevertheless. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) says that perchlorate, the main explosive ingredient in rocket and missile fuel, may be concentrating in lettuce and other vegetables that are irrigated by Colorado River water.
Local Producers & Retailers Organize
By Jim Cook, Crown O’ Maine Coop, Grand Isle, Maine
Consider this: Of the 250 certified organic farms in Maine, 50 rely heavily on the 50 independent natural food stores in the state to provide outlets for their produce – and the number of independent natural food stores is shrinking as the big box chains take more and more of their business.
Food Security Begins at Home
By Kamyar Enshayan
I was born in northern Iran, on what some call the “axis of evil,” and I want to tell you about a kind of true homeland security. There is much talk about bioterrorism and how to safeguard our system of food and agriculture from terrorists. But if we look around us, we see that the forces systematically destroying American agriculture are almost entirely domestic: nitrogen pollution of our streams, atrazine in our drinking water, farm policies that kill independent businesses and small towns, genetic manipulation for profits and power, and monopolization of agricultural markets by a few global corporations.
Common Ground: Wild and Native Plants as Food and Medicine, by Leslie Wood and Fredda Paul
Earth Mother Herbal, by Shatoiya de la Tour
Healthy Foods from Healthy Soils, by Elizabeth Patten and Kathy Lyons
Radiant Food Newsletter