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  You are here:  PublicationsMaine Organic Farmer & GardenerWinter 2013-2014MOFGA Notes - Winter 2013-2014   
 MOFGA Notes – Winter 2013-2014 Minimize

Vernon LeCount in a rare moment of stillness and with his ever-present smile. English photo.


Staff Profile: Vernon LeCount – Facilities Coordinator
MOFGA Welcomes Grace Oedel
And Anna Mueller
Thanks to Orchard Workers!
Fundraiser for the MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee
New Design Sought for MOFGA-Certified Organic Logo
Climate Solutions 2014: Expo, Rally and Summit – Save the Date!
A MOFGA Chapter in Penobscot County?
A Big Thanks to John Blood
CSA Raffle Tickets
Successful Fundraisers
Nose-to-Tail Pork Processing Workshop a Success
LifeFlight Donates AED to MOFGA
New MOFGA Fact Sheet Available
Russell’s Poetry Grove Nears Completion
Congratulations …
Condolences to …


Staff Profile: Vernon LeCount – Facilities Coordinator

Vernon LeCount has had a long-standing interest in sustainability. He lives in GE-Free Montville with his wife, Helga, on land of the Twitchell Hill Community, with an organic garden, three windmills and solar panels for power, and a MOFGA-certified wild blueberry crop. He started volunteering at Ecology Action in Cambridge, Mass., in 1967, and was active in the beginnings of the Boston Food Co-op movement. Later, he helped develop the Friends Co-op and the Belfast Food Co-op, which he has managed.

Vernon studied engineering at Northeastern University in Boston and later received a masters degree at the University of Texas, where he was named a University Fellow when completing his Ph.D. work. He has had a variety of jobs, including stoneware potter in the Old Port Exchange, electronic media specialist at the University of Maine – Orono, assistant professor at Hofstra University, and city engineer in Belfast. Vernon also did broadcast production work for Public Broadcasting in Juneau and Austin for many years.

When did you begin working for MOFGA?

I left the Belfast Co-op in February 2006 to start working for MOFGA.

How has your job changed since you started at MOFGA?

More work, more responsibilities with 320 acres of land and over 23 buildings, plus a network of phones and data that connects offices in two towns (Unity and Thorndike). And more things and systems are breaking with age at MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center.

What is a typical day like now?

Communicating with people via phone and email, meetings, and typically taking care of emergencies or problems.

What are you most excited about regarding MOFGA’s facilities?

• The potential to add photovoltaic solar panels to generate electricity on more of MOFGA's buildings, with the ultimate aim of generating enough of our own electric power to make heat pumps economically viable for heating the two office buildings at the Education Center.

• The potential to make this a viable year-round Education Center, a real destination for people other than on Fair days, with educational gardens, good signage on agricultural processes and botanicals, and walking trails.

What do you see as the biggest challenge for MOFGA’s facilities?

Finding more volunteers to help take care of the place year-round, while also raising donations for operations and repairs.

Do you ever stop running? What is your personal source of energy? (Vernon is famous for his speedy walking and talking.)

Very recently people have been asking me to not run, as they suggest it scares people, so now I stop running when people are around. (I still try to sneak a run once in a while.)

I've had my metabolism checked and I am normal in that regard; doctors have suggested that my hyperactivity is a mental thing, and I don't really think I am ADHD. I think it is a combination of lots of B-vitamins every day, plus very good free-trade coffee, and a list of things too long to complete in one lifetime.

Grace Oedel, MOFGA’s educational events coordinator. English photo. Anna Mueller helping Fair assistant Jon Walsh before the Fair. English photo.

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MOFGA Welcomes Grace Oedel

MOFGA welcomed its new educational events coordinator, Grace Oedel, in August. Grace grew up in south Georgia, graduated from Yale with a degree in religious communities and environmental activism, and taught farming and literature for three years at the Woolman Semester School, a residential high school in California. Her husband, Jacob Holzberg-Pill, is the sustainable agriculture program coordinator at Kennebec Valley Community College. They are both excited to be back East, closer to their families, and eating Maine maple syrup and blueberries every morning. Welcome, Grace!

And Anna Mueller

Anna Mueller was a 2013 summer intern from Unity College. We missed her when she returned to school in September – but got her back in October, when she became our part-time administrative assistant.

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Chris Hamilton, MOFGA’s associate director, shows off the newly donated AED in front of LifeFlight’s helicopter. This Bangor-based flight crew includes Kim Savage, flight nurse; and Carl Zenk and Joe Moore, flight paramedics.

LifeFlight Donates AED to MOFGA

MOFGA's Common Ground Education Center is now a safer place, thanks to a generous donation by LifeFlight, Maine's emergency medical helicopter service, and Zoll Medical Corporation, the leading manufacture of AEDs (automated external defibrillator). The new AED, which will be located outside the first floor bathrooms in MOFGA’s main building, can be used in case of a heart attack.

"In the event of a major medical emergency, time is of the essence,” says Tom Judge, LifeFlight’s executive director. “Having an AED close by can make the difference between life and death. LifeFlight and Zoll were happy to make MOFGA's headquarters a safer place to work and hold meetings."

LifeFlight provides advanced emergency medical care using two helicopters, one based in Lewiston and one in Bangor. Each year LifeFlight cares for more than 1,500 critically ill or injured people from all across Maine.

"This AED is an important piece of medical equipment to have on our site," says Chris Hamilton, MOFGA’s associate director. "We are grateful to both LifeFlight and Zoll for making this especially generous donation."

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New Design Sought for MOFGA-Certified Organic Logo

MOFGA wants to focus on ways to boost the impact of MOFGA-certified organic for both farmers and consumers. We want more producers to seek certification through MOFGA, and the best way to do that is to strengthen the MOFGA-certified organic logo in the marketplace. Our logo needs to be the label that everyone recognizes and seeks when buying food and farm products. By redesigning our certification logo we hope to improve overall marketing of the MOFGA-certified organic brand. Toward that end, a Request for Proposal for the design appears at http://www.mofgacertification.org/wp-content/uploads/LOGO-RFP-Oct-2013.pdf. The deadline for proposals is December 30, 2013.

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Climate Solutions 2014: Expo, Rally and Summit – Save the Date!

On Wednesday, March 12, 2014, a dozen Maine organizations from nonprofit, education and business communities, including MOFGA, are mounting Climate Solutions 2014, a daylong event at the Augusta Civic Center, to highlight the response of Mainers to climate change. All manner of groups and individuals working on mitigation (reducing fossil fuel use and introducing alternatives) and adaptation (how to cope with these changes, present and future) are invited to have a table, take part in the workshops and discussions, and make recommendations for public policy.

Farmers and gardeners are important stakeholders in both mitigation and adaptation efforts. The Climate Solutions planners want to include programming to address key issues for organic and other growers – such as farm weatherization, locally owned renewable energy sources, water, pest and invasive species management, and support for local foods. We want a strong agriculture and food presence at this event, so please mark your calendars and consider how you might participate!

For more information and to help make this happen, please contact Beedy Parker, beedyparker@gwi.net, 236-8732, or visit http://climatesolutionsme.org/ or https://www.facebook.com/ClimateSolutionsME

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In October, volunteers helped prepare the Maine Heritage Orchard site for spring planting. You can support this acclaimed project by purchasing The Maine Heritage Orchard calendar and poster from MOFGA. Photo courtesy of John Bunker.

Thanks to Orchard Workers!



More than 30 volunteers came to MOFGA in October to help John Bunker and others prepare planting areas for the Maine Heritage Orchard. “We were done and cleaned up by lunchtime,” says MOFGA’s organic orchardist, C.J. Walke. They prepared planting areas by mulching each with the following mix, placing a stake at each site and mulching rows with hay.



2 wheelbarrows of compost


2 qts. rock phosphate


2 qts. granular azomite


2 qts. greensand


1-1/2 qts. menafee humates


1 qt. blood meal


1 qt. kelp


3/4 qt. bone char



Full size trees will be planted in the prepared areas next spring. For more information, please visit www.mofga.org/Default.aspx?tabid=540.

MOFGA's Maine Heritage Orchard will be the home for Maine's apple and pear heritage collection and a site featuring innovative and sustainable orcharding practices. Sales of this beautiful 2014 Heritage Orchard Calendar will help support MOFGA and the orchard. The full-color photos of apples originating in Maine were taken by widely acclaimed Portland photographer Russell French and include ‘Black Oxford’, ‘Gray Pearmain’ and others. $15, available at MOFGA's Country Store – as is our $10 poster painted by John Bunker and depicting seven heirloom apples.

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Peggy Smith

Fundraiser for the MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee
Dec. 7 & 8 - From Conflict to Connection: Fundamentals of Nonviolent Communication

Learn to improve your relationship with yourself, your family, co-workers or community, with certified Nonviolent Communication Trainer Peggy Smith. In this workshop, you will gain skills for using daily conflicts to relate more authentically and compassionately – building trust in a multi-sensory learning experience that fosters safety, depth and fun. This event has a value of $140; as a fundraiser for MOFGA and two other environmental organizations, it is offered to the public by donation. For more information and registration, please visit http://www.opencommunication.org/Level1UnityDec13.pdf.

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A MOFGA Chapter in Penobscot County?

To test the waters for forming a MOFGA chapter in Penobscot County, MOFGA members and prospective members are welcome to a Stone Soup Social on Jan. 11, 2014 (snow date Jan. 25), at the Bangor Grange, 1192 Ohio St., Bangor. Doors will open at 1 p.m., and a meal will be served around 2:30.

Get your vegetables chopped. No need to bring bowls or spoons; we have plenty. The soup starts with a big pot of broth over a fire, and it’s up to you to add a tasty morsel. We will have two pots of broth going: one with chicken broth, and one with tomato stock for a minestrone vegetarian soup. Bring something prepped and ready to toss into one of these pots. We will also welcome bread, crackers, desserts, appetizers and nonalcoholic drinks.

Come enjoy this community social and warm yourself on a cold winter day with soup and socializing. Please RSVP to Galen Young, Galen.the.beekeeper@gmail.com, noting how many people you are bringing and what you plan to bring.

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John Blood with the cargobike he donated to MOFGA.

A Big Thanks to John Blood

A big thanks to John Blood of Brunswick, who donated this cargo bike to MOFGA at this year’s Common Ground Country Fair. Blood’s business, Coastal Barge & Mooring (www.coastalbarge.com/), is one of the principal mooring service providers on Casco Bay. In winter, when Blood isn’t moving things on the ocean, his Woodside Cargobike (woodsidecargobike.com or farmtrike.com) business makes different styles of cargo bikes designed for farmers, other businesses, or for folks going around town. He brought the bike shown here to the Fair for UMaine’s Agribility display, and then donated it to MOFGA. Blood is a long-time Fair volunteer, has seen many MOFGA apprentices work on a friend’s farm and calls the apprenticeship program “a great thing.” You can contact Blood at woodsidecargobike@gmail.com or 207-841-1587.

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Nose-to-Tail Pork Processing Workshop a Success

About 20 people came to MOFGA's Nose-to-Tail Pork Processing Workshop in October. This hands-on workshop demonstrated how to get the most and the best out of an organic, pasture-raised pig, from slaughter to sausage. The meat obtained from the workshop will be used at MOFGA events. Thanks to everyone who participated!

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CSA Raffle Tickets

The MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee is raffling two Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares as a fundraiser. Tickets are available for $5 each or six for $25. The drawing will take place in March 2014. For a list of participating farms and to buy tickets, please visit www.mofgastore.org/product.sc;jsessionid=95FA889BAAB3F29A05D7070949F9EE38.m1plqscsfapp04?productId=169.

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Thanks to the chefs and farmers who made the second annual Fore Street Restaurant/Dandelion Spring-Straw Farm dinner a success. From left to right: Brant Dadaleares, Fore Street’s brilliant pastry chef; Will Gottshalk, line cook; Nathan Nadeau, chef de cuisine; Sam Hayward, chef and partner at Fore Street Restaurant in Portland; MOFGA certified organic farmers Beth Schiller and Lee Straw; not pictured, Cameron Fernald, line cook.

Successful Fundraisers

MOFGA held two successful fundraisers recently: its second annual Fore Street Restaurant/Dandelion Spring-Straw Farm Dinner and a get-together at the home of board member Sam May and his wife, Alexandra. Thanks to everyone who supported these events!

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New MOFGA Fact Sheet Available

Our new fact sheet, An Introduction to the Physical Nature of Soils, is now available for download on www.MOFGA.org.

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Russell’s Poetry Grove Nears Completion

Penelope Olson, coordinator of the Common Ground Country Fair Fleece Tent, visited a landscape-in-the-making, Russell’s Poetry Grove, early Sunday morning of the Fair. The grove, being created to honor and remember our late executive director, Russell Libby, is a quiet, contemplative site nestled among tall white pines behind MOFGA’s office building.

“At first light,” says Olson, “following a night of almost no sleep – with that dreadful wind – and in the first of the rains, it was a perfect place to be to gather my wits after two busy days at the Fleece Tent and to spend some peaceful moments more or less out of the weather.”

Everyone who has visited this tranquil spot has had the same reaction: The atmosphere and design reflect Russell’s patient and quiet way of considering myriad facts, looking at the big picture and coming up with elegant solutions – and sometimes with a poem!

The grove will be finished next spring.

"The site is so much more than we originally envisioned," says Chris Hamilton, MOFGA’s associate director. "It was amazing to watch the stoneworkers move the huge poetry stone into place. We then engraved it with a lovely poem by Russell. Once the dozen granite benches were installed in a semi-circle, a magical atmosphere was created. We hope the site will be used for poetry readings, dance or theater performances, lectures or quiet contemplation."

Many people have made the grove possible, including dozens of MOFGA donors. In addition, Brian Kent of Kent Associates in Litchfield donated the design, and the granite was donated by J. C. Stone in Coopers Mills. Maine Stoneworkers Guild, including Dan Ucci of Ledge Hill Creations in Pittston and Wayne King of Corinna, offered their construction time and talent. Others who helped were Brooks Monuments of Warren (engraving), Don Pendleton of Dixmont (construction), and Chris Hamilton, Vernon LeCount and Heather Spalding of the MOFGA staff (design and oversight).

Thanks to everyone who contributed! Please stop by the site the next time you are in Unity.

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Congratulations …

to recently married couples: Crescent Run Farmers Ryan Fahey and Michael Dennett; Sheepscot General owners Taryn Hammer and Ben Marcus; and MOFGA’s dairy certification specialist Katie Webb and Nate Clark.

to Aktan Askin and Erin McWalters on the birth of their son, Sami Can Askin, in September. Aktan is MOFGA’s landscape coordinator.

to two of our MOFGA board members – Sam Hayward and John Krueger – on the birth of their granddaughter. Sam’s son, Huston, and John’s daughter, Tracy, have a new baby – Astrid Krueger Hayward.

to Rob Johnston, Jr., founder and chairman of Johnny's Selected Seeds, who received the All America Selections 2013 Breeders Cup recognizing his significant impact in horticulture by breeding outstanding varieties. Johnston has helped produce varieties that in diverse climates have outstanding flavor, disease resistance and garden performance. Under his leadership, the Johnny's breeding team has introduced more than 50 varieties, seven of which received All-America Selections awards: 'Baby Bear' pumpkin, 'Bright Lights' Swiss chard, 'Diva' cucumber, 'Sunshine' and 'Bon Bon' winter squash, 'Carmen' sweet pepper and, this year, 'Jasper’ cherry tomato with late blight resistance.

to The Environmental Health Strategy Center (www.preventharm.org), honored by the Maine Children's Alliance with a "Giraffe Award" for sticking its neck out for Maine Kids; and for receiving the Physicians for Social Responsibility Harry Bliss Grassroots Activist Award.

Condolences to …

the friends and family of long-time MOFGA member Leslie Land, a prolific writer, editor, cook, gardener, promoter of local foods, former gardening columnist for The New York Times, and a former editor of Yankee magazine. Leslie died from complications from breast cancer in August.

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