"Worms are the unsung heroes of our food chain. Their burrows allow oxygen and water to penetrate the soil, they add fertility and prevent flooding."
- Farming Today, BBC Radio
|| The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener – Winter 2009-2010
|2009 Common Ground Country Fair Keynote Speeches
Friday, Sept. 25
Project Sprout: The Story and Impact of One School Garden
By Sam Levin
A junior at Monument High School in Great Barrington, Mass., Sam Levin is one of three co-founders of Project Sprout, an organic, student-run, 12,000-square-foot garden on the grounds of his school. Project Sprout supplies the school cafeteria with fresh fruits and vegetables, helps feed the hungry in the community and serves as a living laboratory for students of the Monument school system.
Sunday morning, Sept. 27
Feeding the People
By Mark Guzzi
One of the region’s most successful young farmers, Mark Guzzi has been growing and direct marketing produce through farmers’ markets since 1993, when he started working on farms. A former MOFGA apprentice and a 2000 graduate of the University of Maine Sustainable Agriculture program, Guzzi now owns Peacemeal Farm in Dixmont, one of the area’s oldest organic farms.
Sunday afternoon, Sept. 27
Small Farms Conservancy: Solving World Problems through Family Farming
By Lynn Miller
Lynn Miller, editor of the Small Farmer’s Journal, gave a surprise speech – accompanied by Vaudevillian entertainers – at the 2009 Common Ground Country Fair. Miller said that he has “taken the draft horse and small farm community around the country, pulled them together, and now embarked on a new adventure trying to get us all to work together to save what’s good, valued and important.” Small farms, that is.
MOFGA’s Public Policy Teach-Ins
Reversing the Obesity Epidemic: Partnering for a Healthier Future
According to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention/Department of Health and Human Services, nearly three out of every five Mainers are obese or overweight. Obesity rates in Maine have risen 100 percent in 17 years. Between one and five people die every day in Maine from causes related to being obese or overweight. A MOFGA Public Policy Committee teach-in at the Common Ground Country Fair addressed this issue.
Sandra Steingraber on Rescuing Complex Agroecosystems
By Sharon Tisher
What if we paid as much attention to our global ecological crisis as we do to our global financial crisis? With this provocative opener, renowned environmental writer Sandra Steingraber treated an audience of more than 300 to a wide ranging but well integrated talk that revealed common threads in the history of her family farm in Illinois, the deterioration of Americans’ health and the threats to the health of our global ecosystems.
Amy Goldman: A Pumpkin Devotee Graces Common Ground
Amy Goldman is a passionate gardener, seed saver, author and well-known advocate for heirloom fruits and vegetables. At the Common Ground Country Fair, Goldman spoke eloquently about pumpkins, squashes and gourds of unsurpassed beauty, exceptional flavor and rare form. “I’m delighted to be at the Common Ground Fair,” she said, “where heirloom vegetables are the rule, not the exception.”
From Elderberries to a Nutraceutical Cluster of Fruits and Farmers
By Rebecca Goldfine
Edie Johnston is the kind of entrepreneur who doesn’t just focus on one idea. Instead, she’s cultivating several visions at once: a farm, a fruit revival, a medical breakthrough and a revitalized economy. But at the center of all Johnston’s plans lies the same object: a small, dark-purple elderberry.
Successful First Conference on Organic Plant and Animal Breeding
By Terry Allan
Breeding Diversity, the first IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements) international conference on Organic Plant and Animal Breeding, was held in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in August 2009. Participants included organic farmers, farmer-breeders, public and private sector breeders, university researchers, activists, and representatives from local, national and international organizations.
Bringing Back the Bees by Official Sanction
By John Koster
Many people don’t know that they’ve ever seen Allendale, New Jersey, but the borough turns up all the time as a backdrop to movies and television shows because Allendale embodies an eastern suburb that’s tastefully affluent without being unduly ostentatious. Allendale, however, was until recently one of only two municipalities in northern New Jersey’s Bergen County that banned bees.
Garden Tips: Despite Wet Summer, Optimism Reigns
By Roberta Bailey
Congratulations on surviving one of the roughest go-rounds with Mother Nature that most Maine gardeners can remember. The fact that you are reading an article on gardening tips indicates that you are not ready to give up. The seeds of hope for next year are already sprouting – hope for a blight-free summer, for an abundant tomato crop, for more cucumbers, or winter squash, for doing a better job of weeding or getting cover crops planted or perfectly timing the late plantings of greens.
A Dozen Storage Crops for Homegrown Food Security
A demonstration plot planted last summer at MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center highlighted storage crops – vegetables that are easy to store over winter indoors without canning or freezing and, in some cases, can even be left in the ground over winter for an early spring harvest. Here are 12 crops to try, along with comments by Jack Kertesz, MOFGA’s demonstration gardens coordinator.
Becoming a Master Food Preserver
By Merry Hall
“Be sure to wear gloves while handling the jalapeno peppers and avoid touching your face and eyes,” Kathy Savoie, our teacher, warns us. Following a brief lecture on processing tomatoes, our master food preserver class is about to make tomato salsa in the family and consumer science room of the Gorham Middle School.
Garden Planning with Google
By Victoria Scanlan Stefanakos
Last spring, whenever I looked up from the mud while trying to outrun the rain to plant two peach trees, one Nanking cherry bush, three highbush blueberries, 100 strawberry plants and a new raspberry hedgerow, I was madly envisioning where the rest of our food would go. The tomato and pepper seedlings, the greens waiting in flats, and the pumpkins, gourds and corn all needed fertile homes too.
Tips for Starting a Community Supported Agriculture Farm
By Jean Ann Pollard
From 1995 to 2005, my husband, Peter Garrett, and I ran a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) garden in Winslow, Maine. Once a hayfield, our land was perfect for growing vegetables: It was flat, cleared and had never been treated with pesticides.
Farm Blogs: A Timely Link Between Farmers and Customers
By Polly Shyka
When people think of a farmer's tools, most conjure images of hoes, spades, seed packages and maybe tractors. They don’t readily associate computers with the farming profession, yet many farmers spend hours “at the desk” each week, speaking and e-mailing with customers, taking orders, researching, communicating with CSA members, bookkeeping. Some are even blogging.
Raising Rabbits on Pasture
By Diane Schivera, M.A.T.
Raising rabbits on pasture allows the animals to exercise, engage more easily in natural behavior, and improve their overall quality of life, while giving the farmer a way to move or manage rabbit housing easily. Rabbits raised on pasture produce more meat and meat of nicer quality, with more omega-3 fatty acids in the limited amount of fat contained in the carcass.
Local Organic Food For All: Farmers and Food Stamps
By Melissa White Pillsbury
Being largely self-employed and self-sufficient, diversified farmers as a whole may be faring better than average in this harsh economic climate. But numbers don’t lie – it’s tough out there for many Americans, and Maine is no exception. According to the most recent data available from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), the number of Mainers enrolled in the government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, has risen nearly 19.7 percent in the last year to almost 212,000.
Harvest Kitchen: Juicing … Again
By Roberta Bailey
My mother always said that things cycle back into fashion every 30 years or so. Usually she was talking about the clothes in the attic. I am not sure if it is an age thing, but I am starting to believe her. Maybe I had to let enough years pass to actually see the cycles for myself. I’ve hit my 50s and all I see around me are cycles.
|Laurel McFarland photo.
Bento Lunch: Putting the Fun in Food
By Cheryl Wixson
My elder daughter, Laurel, who works as a nanny and home schools two delightful children, is always sharing with me photographs of the colorful and fun lunches she prepares for her charges. Using bright purple, green, red and yellow plastic compartments that fit neatly into a box known as a laptop lunch (www.laptoplunches.com), she fills them with artistically decorated palm trees, bunnies, even “green eggs and ham.” When plans include air travel, the family is the envy of other passengers, as Laurel is sure to pack each an exquisitely prepared Japanese or bento (also called obento) lunch box.
Black Elderberry Extract Fights Flu
Catnip vs. Stable Flies
CMP's Tree Pruning Program
Leafhopper-resistant Potato Varieties
Mustard Seed Meal vs. Weeds
Worm Compost Boosts Plant Growth, Health
Being Part of the Fair
By Russell Libby
Food Safety, from the Ground Up
By Russell Libby, MOFGA Executive Director
If we were trying to design a system to promote food safety, I don’t think it would look anything like the legislation that’s moving through Congress now. It would focus regulatory attention on the companies that supply most of the food in the country. It would be comprehensive. It would focus on root causes.
Sharing in the Cycles of Life
By Jean English, Editor, The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener
Cycles are so pronounced in our cold temperate climate. Now, in winter, leaves have fallen, blanketing the forest and feeding the soil organisms that hold the nutrients that will later be released to help woodland plants burst forth in spring with renewed vigor, to photosynthesize and gather yet more nutrients to cycle back to the earth.
Reviews & Resources
The following reviews and resource listings appear on the same page:
Big Green Purse, by Diane MacEachern
Bringing Food Home: The Maine Example, by Merry Stetson Hall
First They Came For The Cows: An Activist's Story, by Sharon Zecchinelli
Macro Photography for Gardeners and Nature Lovers, by Alan L. Detrick
Maine 101 – Everything you wanted to know about Maine …, by Nancy Griffin
Organic Body Care Recipes, by Stephanie Tourles
Small-Scale Grain Raising, 2nd Ed., by Gene Logsdon
Tomorrow’s Table – Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food, by Pamela Arnold and Raoul Adamchak
Web Sites & Web Publications
Changing Maine Directory
Cornell's Pesticide and Cancer Risk Database
Michigan State University Integrated Pest Management Resources
Soil and Health Library
What’s So Special about Organic Seed?