|Living mulches improve soil and reduce weed pressure at Bahner Farm. Photo courtesy of Bahner Farm
|Jennifer Sansosti and Trevor Seip at their cargotecture homestead. Schreiber photo
|A new kitchen garden in El Salvador. English photo
Farmers Adapt to and Mitigate Climate Change Effects
By Jean English
Maine farmers are acting now to adapt to and help mitigate climate change. During a panel session at MOFGA’s Spring Growth Conference on the topic, moderated by Eric Sideman, three Maine farmers – all former MOFGA journeypersons – talked about closed loop systems they use to try to mitigate and adapt to changing climate.
Farming in the Face of Climate Change
MOFGA’s Spring Growth 2015 conference featured keynote speaker John Aber from the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of New Hampshire. Aber talked about climate change generally and about ways to increase the efficiency and lower the cost of milk and vegetable production by closing cycles, using his innovative composting experiment at UNH as an example. His work was funded by grants from Northeast SARE and the N.H. Agricultural Experiment Station. After Aber’s talk, Ivan Fernandez and Glen Koehler from UMaine discussed climate change in our state.
A Cargotecture Homestead in Maine
By Laurie Schreiber
“Welcome to our little homestead on the hill!” Trevor Seip exclaims upon the arrival of a visitor who has navigated a half-mile dirt road to get there. The drive up the wooded slope to see Seip and his wife, Jennifer Sansosti, is a bit of a push, but well worth it. This off-the-grid homestead, on 63 acres, has all the signs of cheerful industry. There’s the couple themselves, brimming with energy and ideas. … Then there’s the couple’s core project: construction of a house using two shipping containers, a type of architecture – called “cargotecture” – that is gaining currency in Maine and can be seen to a greater extent elsewhere in the world.
Strong Interest in Local Organic Foods in El Salvador
By the MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee
Interest in organic farming and gardening and in permaculture is strong in El Salvador. That was one of the principal lessons that four members of the MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee learned while visiting our sister organizations and other groups this winter. We also saw strong emerging leadership among young activists; a committed push to legislate the right to water and to food sovereignty; a growing interest in ecotourism – sometimes accompanied by organic food production and sometimes as an alternative to metallic mining; and deeply disturbing indications of the effects of gang violence in El Salvador.
The Earth’s Call
By Michael Zuck
Michael George Zuck, 63, died on March 7, 2015. With his wife, Gail, he had built and operated Everlasting Farm in Bangor. He also was the founding president of the Mid-Maine Greenhouse Growers Association, a MOFGA member and an excellent speaker about biological control of greenhouse pests at a MOFGA Farmer to Farmer Conference. Three weeks before he died, Michael wrote to The MOF&G.
Onions That Fit
By Will Bonsall
Some types of onions are less dominated by the sun’s swiveling arc, mainly because they don’t try to make a bulb. They’re content to copy their leek cousins in merely forming a long slender shaft with little or no swelling at the bottom. Generically grouped as “multiplier onions,” they use a variety of strategies to propagate themselves, and those strategies offer a number of ways to integrate them into our garden space at almost every season.
Herbs Called Adaptogens
By Joyce White
Plants known as herbs have been a part of healing the body, mind and spirit for most of known human history. Cultures have differed, stresses have differed, but the use of plants for healing as well as for food has remained constant through time.
|A second generation rolling high tunnel
|Eric Sideman alongside one of the high tunnels in Almería, Spain. Becky Sideman photo
Second Generation Rolling High Tunnel
By Phil Norris
Here in Maine, the short growing season makes some sort of season extension desirable. Unheated high tunnels have proven themselves to be profitable, and moveable high tunnels have been around long enough for the advantages to be evident. Several companies are putting out well engineered rolling greenhouses, and the farmer now has some choices.
Spain’s Climate-Changing, Produce-Growing Town of Tunnels
By Eric Sideman, Ph.D.
Those of you who know me know that I never look forward to leaving my farm. I have to be talked into traveling – and last fall my wife, Becky (the vegetable and small fruit specialist at the University of New Hampshire), did just that. While she was on sabbatical, we went to Almería, Spain.
Native Bees are Important Urban Pollinators
By Sue Smith-Heavenrich
A study released earlier this year from San Francisco State University shows that native bees provide an important pollination service in the city. And it wasn’t the size of the garden that determined whether crops were adequately pollinated but the abundance of flowering plants.
Cultivating Shiitake Mushrooms as an Agroforestry Crop for New England
By Steve Gabriel
Research based at Cornell University in partnership with the University of Vermont, Chatham University, county Cooperative Extension personnel and farmers has increased demand for and interest in forest mushrooms. This effort was boosted by almost a decade of research by recently retired Cornell professor Dr. Ken Mudge on shiitake and lions mane cultivation.
By Roberta Bailey
We all want to grow strawberries. Who can resist the allure of a basket brimming with fat, red, juicy berries? Some of us have tried, but the weeds got the better of the patch, or the chipmunks or cedar waxwings got most of the berries. And some of us have decided that growing strawberries was too much work, that it is easier to go and pick them on a farm. I did that for many years, but the idea of picking berries for my breakfast every day in late June and most of July kept tapping me on the shoulder, giving me a nudge.
Advocating for Sustainable Agriculture Programs in Support of Our Family Farms: One Farmer's Voice for Many in Washington
By Lauren Errickson
In mid-March I had the opportunity travel to Washington, D.C., for a "Farmer Fly-In" event held shortly before the Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee began debating how money authorized by the new Farm Bill will be spent in 2016. The fly-in was sponsored by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), an alliance of grassroots organizations that advocates for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources and rural communities.
Summer Eating in Maine: Mussels
By Cheryl Wixson
Archaeologists say that humans have been eating mussels for more than 20,000 years, and with good reasons. This edible bivalve of the marine family Mytilidae is an incredibly nutrient-dense seafood choice.
|Colby College students digging in at the Maine Heritage Orchard. Verrier photo
|Cooking outdoors. Toki Oshima drawing
|Russell Libby, by Robert Shetterly
Maine Heritage Orchard Update: A Successful Spring Planting
By Abbey Verrier
The 2015 spring planting week at the Maine Heritage Orchard was an incredible success. It began on April 15 when a group of sophomores from Mt. View High School spent a day in the orchard with MOFGA's Jason Tessier, planting nearly 500 native woody shrubs. A few days later, on the big April 19 planting day, 40 volunteers ages 8 to 80 planted 75 historic apple trees as well as another 600 native shrubs.
By Grace Oedel
Bread occupies a unique and highly sanctified place in many religious traditions. In Judaism, the ritual laws surrounding bread stand apart from all other culinary rituals. A meal is defined by whether or not you consumed bread. If you did, you are mandated to carry out a full set of prayers before and after the meal. If you have munched on most other snacks, you are only required to utter a quick couple of lines. Bread mandates meaningful time and prayer investment. Bread slows your spiritual pace.
By Roberta Bailey
In the pre-dawn hours of a bitter cold February morning, we had a house fire. It is an absolutely surreal process to move through getting everyone out safely, to call 911, to grab coats and a drawer of photographs, a spinning wheel, a computer, then to look around your home as you walk out the door and know that it may well be for the last time, that everything is changing very quickly.
Daytripping 2015: Farms and Gardens to Visit This Summer
Disturbing Forest Service Timber Harvesting Plan for Maine by Joyce White
Does Organic Need a New Label? by Eliot Coleman
MOFGA Responds by Mary Yurlina, Director, MOFGA Certification Services LLC
Size Matters: Let's Talk About Farm Scale!
By Alice Percy, MOFGA President
If the Good Food Movement wants to change how the world eats, then we must get serious about our farms being environmentally AND economically sustainable – and that means changing the language we use when we talk about farm scale.
Agricultural Scholar Awards Honor Russell Libby
By Ted Quaday, MOFGA Executive Director
Russell Libby’s commitment to education was strong and unflagging, and that is why it is such a tremendous pleasure to note that MOFGA has joined with MaineToday Media (Source) and Lee Auto Mall to create the Russell Libby Agricultural Scholar Awards. The awards are envisioned as an annual scholarship program to help educate young people intent on studying organic and sustainable farming methods in Maine.
Never Any Roundup, Nary a Neonic: Go Organic
By Jean English, Editor, The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener
Anyone reading The MOF&G is unlikely to knowingly use or ingest glyphosate or neonicotinoid insecticides. These are synthetic pesticides that are not allowed in organic production. But what about unknowingly? In the United States, Roundup is the most widely used herbicide, and neonics are used on almost all the non-organic corn (and many other crops) grown – and both are systemic. That means they are taken up by and translocated throughout plants, and residues of these toxicants and their metabolites may exist in plants and soils and waterways and air … in you and in me.
Reviews & Resources
Will Bonsall’s Essential Guide to Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening
The Tao of Vegetable Gardening: Cultivating Tomatoes, Greens, Peas, Beans, Squash, Joy, and Serenity
An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace
New Growth – Portraits of Six Maine Organic Farms