Organic Farm Loan Fund
MOFGA, with the generous support of a donor to the Maine Community Foundation, will be starting an Organic Farm Loan Fund this winter. The focus of this program will be small loans that help new and existing organic farmers grow their businesses – equipment, greenhouses, operating capital. Look for details at MOFGA’s Annual Meeting at the Agricultural Trades Show in January!
|This one windmill may provide all the power needed during the Common Ground Country Fair. English photos.
2008 Buildings and
Solar heating: Work continues on 16 solar panels mounted on a wood framework behind the Common Kitchen. This ground-mounted solar hot-water collector will help heat the MOFGA offices and meeting hall. The array of absorbers was built on-site rather than using off-the-shelf solar panels. Four of the 4’ x 8’ absorbers are commercially available and are made of copper-finned tubes. The remaining 12 homemade absorbers consist of two aluminum flat plates spaced 1/16 inch apart. An antifreeze solution trickles down between the plates to collect solar energy. We’ll monitor the output from the two types of absorbers to determine which is more economical. The collector cover will be the same 8 mm twin-wall polycarbonate glazing used on the solar air collector on the sprinkler tank building.
Bergey wind generator: During March our wind machine generated 528-kW hours of electricity. In the summer it averaged close to 300-kW hours. We do not have data for the late autumn and winter yet. If the machine averages 500-kW hours per month, it would cover the power needs of the Fair.
Livestock Barn Five: We constructed another livestock barn, with electric power and water faucets, in time for the Fair. This barn’s stalls are slightly deeper and wider than those of other barns, allowing stall gates to swing both ways, so we can store people movers undercover easily. The barn was built using lumber cut from trees on MOFGA’s grounds. Thanks to the Kennebec Valley Woodworkers Association for help building the barn.
Sheep mow grass: In conjunction with Unity College, we placed sheep in movable pens on the grounds to try to keep grass short. The sheep escaped regularly, making more work for MOFGA staff, but they did reduce gas use and labor for mowing. A more robust portable fence or better-trained sheep would have helped.
Lumber yard: We created a permanent lumber yard at the Pine Gate entrance for easier access in snowy months to lumber and for a site for the sawmill during Low-Impact Forestry events.
Subterranean infrastructure repair: While installing the subterranean components of the solar water wall, we discovered that the original utility pipes had settled, causing waste pipes and electric conduits to stretch and separate. Building and Grounds staff replaced all utility piping systems, compacting soil as we went and adding a properly designed drainage system to remove roof runoff and surface drainage water from the area.
Electric infrastructure: We added ground fault protection to Fair electric panels, extended power to new locations, corrected many wiring problems in our buildings, and finished wiring the solar wall.
Plumbing infrastructure: We created hand wash stations and water dispensing stations, built leach fields at the new hand wash stations, and completed some storm water repairs. We added on-demand water heaters to the two bathrooms, the staff kitchen in the main building and sinks in the Common Kitchen. These heaters will eventually use pre-heated water from the solar heating system.
Ford tractor: Another party purchased the tractor we were sharing with a local grower. MOFGA still has some use of this tractor and flail, but the landscaping crew will not have access whenever they need this equipment. We’re seeking solutions.
Main building painting: The white trim of the main building is being cleaned, caulked and painted; it had only primer in places, and uncaulked holes were causing the paint to degrade in places. Buildings and Grounds would like to caulk and paint the yellow clapboards on the building at the next opportunity.
Site planning: John Belding has completed the first base maps for the site plan.
– Vernon LeCount, Facility Coordinator