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  You are here:  PublicationsMaine Organic Farmer & GardenerWinter 2004/2005MOFGA Notes - Winter 04-05   
 MOFGA Notes - Winter 2004-2005 Minimize


MOFGA Joins Alliance for a Clean & Healthy Maine
MOFGA’s Organic Orcharding Class
MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee Update
MOFGA Board Adopts Policy on Trade Liberalization or “Free Trade” in Agriculture
MOFGA Night at O’Naturals in Portland – Superb Fast Food During a Busy Season
Staff Changes at MOFGA

 

MOFGA Joins Alliance for a Clean & Healthy Maine

MOFGA has joined a new coalition of Maine environmental, health and labor groups committed to reducing Maine citizens’ exposures to toxics chemicals. Launched in 2003, the Alliance for a Clean & Healthy Maine includes the Environmental Health Strategy Center, the Learning Disabilities Association of Maine, the Maine Labor Group in Health, the Maine People’s Alliance, the Maine Public Health Association, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Physicians for Social Responsibility/Maine and the Toxics Action Center. The coalition promotes safe alternatives to persistent toxic chemicals, opposes attempts by toxic polluters to circumvent the law, and works to reduce human exposure to harmful chemicals.

Before formally joining the Coalition, MOFGA actively worked with the Alliance on its initiatives. In October 2003, MOFGA co-sponsored a widely acclaimed, first Maine interdisciplinary environmental health conference at the University of New England in Biddeford, organized by Physicians for Social Responsibility and other Alliance members (see the March-May 2004 issue of The MOF&G, p. 26). Major accomplishments of the coalition to date have focused on reducing the risks of exposure in Maine to mercury, arsenic, brominated flame retardants (BFRs), and heavy metals and other toxics found in computers, TVs and other electronic waste (E-waste). In the 2004 legislative session, the Coalition achieved two first-in-the-nation pieces of legislation – one banning the sale of products containing brominated flame retardants known as Penta- and Octa-BDE, which are toxic and bioaccumulate in human breast milk and other tissues, and establishing legislative intent to ban a third BFR by 2008; the other requiring manufacturers to ‘take back’ E-waste at the end of life for proper recycling.

Future work of the Alliance will move Maine toward an awareness and ultimately an effective phase-out of toxics that persist and bioaccumulate in the environment.

“Formally joining the Alliance is a logical step in MOFGA’s long term commitment to reducing our exposure to toxics,” remarked Public Policy Committee Chair Sharon Tisher. MOFGA will focus its efforts on pesticides and other toxics, such as BFRs, that bioaccumulate in the food chain. “Organic farmers and gardeners know that however carefully we control intentional inputs in our farms and gardens, our food and in turn our bodies can still be contaminated with persistent toxics in the environment. It takes concerted effort of an organized public, government and industry to eliminate the production and use of toxic chemicals that bioaccumulate. The Alliance is an exciting new coalition aimed at mobilizing that change.”

 

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MOFGA’s Organic Orcharding Class

By John Bunker

On October 9, an enthusiastic group gathered at Sandy River Orchard in Mercer for the fifth and final installment of MOFGA’s 2004 organic orcharding classes. The day was hosted and led by 89-year-old Francis Fenton, whose father planted many of the orchard’s apple trees in 1906. Author/orchardist Michael Phillips and MOFGA Vice President John Bunker assisted Fenton with a lengthy orchard tour and tasting of dozens of old and new varieties, as well as in-depth discussions of fall orchard care and disease resistant varieties for the organic orchard. Closing out the day, many attendees explored the orchard on their own and picked apples to take home. It was an exciting and fun conclusion to the class series.

The other four classes were held at central Maine orchards and at MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center in Unity. Steve Page of Bearwell Orchard in Searsmont and Bob Sewall of Sewall’s Orchard in Lincolnville hosted a pruning workshop in March; Mark Fulford and John Bunker taught grafting in April; Steve Page and Michael Phillips taught early season orchard management skills in May; and Cooperative Extension’s Glenn Koehler and orchardist Steve Meyerhans taught midsummer orchard management at the Meyerhans’ Lakeside Orchard in Manchester.

Classes averaged about 25 participants, with some attending the entire series and others coming for one or two events. Comments have all been positive. We are designing a new series of organic orcharding classes for 2005. Information will be available at the Maine Agricultural Trades Show in January. If you can’t make it to Augusta for the Trades Show, check www.mofga.org or call the MOFGA office for more information. The first class of the 2005 season will be in March.

 

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MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee Update

The MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee is coordinating a delegation that will travel to El Salvador from Jan. 23 to Feb. 1, 2005 – and that may even include a Farmer-to-Farmer-type meeting held for organic farmers in Chalate. Our sistering organizations, CCR and CORDES, hold their biannual encuentro (meeting) to focus on a specific topic, and the farmers themselves give different workshops.

In October, two members of the El Salvador sistering staff who were in Maine met with members of the MOFGA committee. The group discussed goals, work and plans for the delegation, and heard a super talk from Teresa Perez, one of the staff members from El Salvador, about sistering and the struggle in El Salvador for economic justice and against free trade.

 

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MOFGA Board Adopts Policy on Trade Liberalization or “Free Trade” in Agriculture

At its October meeting, the MOFGA board approved the following policy statement concerning “free trade” proposed by the MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee – a group committed to solidarity between MOFGA and sistering organizations CCR and CORDES in El Salvador. Farmers in El Salvador and in other Central and South American countries have been protesting the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) agreement. These proposed agreements would extend the principles of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to the countries of Central America, and the countries of South and Central America, respectively.

In our global economy, trade and trade-related policies impact everyone. Currently, the dominant trend in international trade is trade liberalization, also known as “free trade.” Ultimately, trade liberalization is a movement toward less government interference in the trade and commerce between countries. But the current process toward liberalization is heavily influenced by both the choices of domestic governments and the decisions of bodies governing world trade – such as the World Trade Organization (WTO).

To date, trade liberalization policies have led to declining farm prices and income for small-scale farmers both in the United States and abroad.

Liberalized trade policies are also linked to increased scale in farm production, increased competition and displacement of small-scale farmers in developing countries. These trends negatively impact sustainable farming practices.

Regulations and standards concerning organic labeling, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and environmental protection may be overruled by international tribunals created through trade agreements such as CAFTA, the FTAA, bilateral trade and WTO agreements.

MOFGA supports the goal of standing in solidarity with farmers and farm organizations across the United States and around the world in calling for a more democratic process to determine the parameters governing both international trade and the domestic policies that promote international trade in agriculture.

To that end, we support:

1. trade policies that enhance the ability of small-scale and sustainable farmers to make a living wage;

2. diversity in farm production and in local cultures as well as the right and ability of local communities to set standards for the products they produce and consume;

3. socially and economically responsible trade in agriculture, including Fair Trade that ensures farmers living wages for the fruits of their labor;

4. the efforts of the Commission established by the Maine Trade, Jobs and Democracy Act (LD1815) in the last legislative session. This Commission, composed of our legislators and citizens, is examining the impacts of “Free Trade” Agreements to our economy, jobs, and democracy and will specifically examine the impacts to farms in Maine.

Further we:

a. will empower one of our members, if one so chooses, to be an official representative to the newly forming Maine Fair Trade Coalition as an advocate for the interests of small-scale, organic, and sustainable farmers in international trade issues;

b. stand in Solidarity with farmers in El Salvador and in other parts of the developing world to reject the FTAA and CAFTA in their current forms as destructive to the lives and livelihoods of family farmers world-wide;

c. seek to provide education to the public about trade issues and their impact to small-scale farmers world-wide in order to empower the democratic process.

For more information, please visit www.mofga.org and:

www.oxfamamerica.org/

www.tradeobservatory.org/library.cfm?RefID=26078 [Analysis_of_CAFTA_Concerning_Agriculture. pdf]

www.citizenstrade.org/agriculture.php

www.art-us.org/FTAs/CAFTA

www.citizenstrade.org/cafta.php#Agriculture


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MOFGA Night at O’Naturals in Portland – Superb Fast Food During a Busy Season

O’Naturals in Portland offers the perfect break from last-minute holiday shopping, the perfect alternative to slow food during a fast-paced season, and a great holiday gift for MOFGA: On Monday, Dec. 20, from 4 to 8 p.m., O’Naturals – known for its quality, organic, promptly served food – will donate 10% of the evening’s proceeds to our organization, and customers will have a chance to enter a 50/50 raffle as well!

No tickets are necessary for the event; just show up and enjoy the food! You can even plan your meal ahead of time by checking out O’Naturals menu at www.onaturals.com/, or you can contact the restaurant at 321-2050.

Enjoy a flatbread sandwich, tossed salad, Asian noodles, hot soup and/or dessert. The restaurant even offers specials for kids. And if you’re stuck for an idea for a holiday gift, you can solve that problem with an O’Naturals Gift Card!

O’Naturals is located at 83 Exchange Street, in Portland’s charming Old Port.

 

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Staff Changes at MOFGA

MOFGA welcomes Melissa White as the new Educational Programs Assistant. Melissa grew up in Unity, attended the Maine School of Science and Math in Limestone, then went to Brandeis University, where she studied economics and was an environmental/social justice activist. White will split her time between Fair activities, Educational Programs and administrative support for MOFGA Certification Services.

Ann Frank is another recent addition to our staff. In late August, Frank started as our new Database Manager. She lives in Albion and most recently worked as a legal proofreader at the Maine Legislature in the Revisor of Statutes Office. She has also been a teacher and registered nurse. Welcome Ann!

Meanwhile, MOFGA says good-bye to Dawn Flanzer, who provided wonderful administrative support to the organization for the past few years. In October of 2000, Flanzer started as our part-time receptionist. With the growth of the organization, she grew into the position of database manager. This summer Flanzer decided to spend more time at home on her farm with her husband John and their animals. We thank her for all her great work and wish the Flanzers all the best in their future farming activities.

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