|Grange Corner Farm. Photo by Aube Giroux.
|Plant corridors for pollinators. English photo.
|André Leu with Exhibition Hall coordinator Amy LeBlanc.
|Ben Falk. English photo.
|Buckwheat flour from a home garden. English photo.
|Aronia melanocarpa 'Viking.' English photo.
|A caterpillar tunnel. Eric Sideman photo.
Grange Corner Farm: Growing Grains Suited to the Northeast
By Holli Cederholm
Grange Corner Farm, a MOFGA certified organic farm, stretches across 30 acres of old hayfields on a windy crest with panoramic views of the Camden Hills in Lincolnville, Maine. Sam Mudge says that most of the active agricultural land in town is located here. The parcel that he and his father jointly farm − Mudge grows grains under the label Grange Corner Farm, and his father markets hops as Ducktrap River Hops − once provided winter feed for their family's sheep herd, which was pastured across the road on what is now a vegetable operation.
The Grange Revival in Maine
By Betsy Garrold
In Maine the Grange is seeing a resurgence of interest and relevance. As Maine continues to grow a new crop of young, savvy farmers, the Grange is becoming not only a social outlet for some but also, harkening back to its roots in populist politics, a place to organize around the needs and concerns shared by farmers everywhere.
Peter Kellman on Agri-Culture and Democracy
In August, Maine artist Robert Shetterly unveiled his portrait of longtime labor leader, historian and working class hero Peter Kellman at the Good Life Center in Harborside, Maine. The portrait is part of Shetterly’s Americans Who Tell the Truth series. (MOFGA’s Russell Libby was also included in this series.)
Creating Native Plant Corridors for Pollinators and Wildlife
By Heather McCargo
Native plant corridors attract pollinators and wildlife to your farm by stretching across your property to connect your piece of native habitat to nearby meadows, wetlands or woodlands. This creates a much larger area for native pollinators to forage, raise young and migrate. Corridors may run along a road, between fields, in a swale or on the edge of a forest, connecting habitats off the property and returning native plants to the parts of the farm not suitable for traditional crops.
2014 Common Ground Country Fair Keynotes
André Leu on the Myths of Safe Pesticides
André Leu, president of the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM), the world umbrella body for the organic sector, gave a keynote speech at the 2014 Common Ground Country Fair about “The Myths of Safe Pesticides” – also the title of his recent book.
Ben Falk on Farm and Homestead Resiliency
Ben Falk, founder of Whole Systems Design LLC and author of “The Resilient Farm and Homestead,” has been testing resilient water, food, heating and medicinal systems in the context of land regeneration at the farm and homestead scales for more than 10 years. He has tested the viability of rice in a cold climate, trialed new and underutilized perennial species, spawned development of intensive microclimates for extended season production, and helped push the boundaries of what’s considered possible in storm water infiltration and erosion-prevention/nutrient-capture in a working landscape.
2014 Common Ground Country Fair Public Policy Teach-In
Antibiotics and Your Dinner Plate
How do antibiotic-resistant bacteria affect our health and the health of livestock? What can we do about this growing problem? These issues were discussed at a teach-in at the 2014 Common Ground Country Fair by Stephen Sears, M.D, M.P.H., chief of staff at VA Maine Healthcare System (Togus); Don Hoenig, V.M.D., retired state veterinarian, now with UMaine Cooperative Extension and the American Humane Association; Jennifer Obadia, Ph.D., New England coordinator for the Healthy Food in Health Care Program of the global coalition Health Care Without Harm (HCWH); and MOFGA certified organic farmer Alice Percy of Treble Ridge Farm in Whitefield. Nancy Ross, Ph.D., of MOFGA’s Public Policy Committee, moderated the session.
Buckwheat for the Home Gardener
By Will Bonsall
Gardeners rarely include buckwheat among their garden crops, except occasionally as a green manure. That’s not a bad idea, although often not the best. For soil that already has a modicum of fertility, other green manures – oats, for example – return more on a given investment. Buckwheat has a more specialized role – e.g., when soil fertility, especially humus, is very low; when certain minerals, particularly phosphorus, are low; or when an intractable weed problem, such as quackgrass, needs to be smothered.
The Low Cost of Local Organic Food
By Eric Rector
I began baking bread for the Belfast Farmers’ Market in 2008. At that time Maine-grown grain was a novelty, and I could regularly source Maine-grown whole-wheat flour from only one vendor: Aurora Mills in Linneus. My sourdough recipe calls for half organic white bread flour (for "loft") and half organic whole-wheat flour (for flavor). Locally grown and ground organic white flour was not and still is not available because the specific milling equipment for that doesn't exist in Maine yet.
Beginning Farmers Resource Network Provides Collaborative Assistance
Are you a new farmer? Do you need help navigating the process of setting up your business or finding out who can help your new farming business succeed? The Beginning Farmer Resource Network (BFRN) of Maine can help!
A Pesticides Quiz and Primer: 2014 edition
By Sharon S. Tisher
How much do you know about pesticides and your food? I have updated this quiz to reflect new data. Take the test and check you answers at the link provided at the end. You may be surprised!
Aronia – The New, Easy-to-Grow Super Food
By Roberta Bailey
New England is rich in plant medicine, and learning that our medicine cabinet just expanded is exciting. Have you heard about the new super fruit? It appears to be better than all the others that have been touted in the last decade. And the best part is that it may be growing in your hedgerow or back fields. Black chokeberry or Aronia melanocarpa is poised to become the next popular super food.
Holding Winter’s Peace All Year
By Grace Oedel
Lately I have been wrestling with the dynamic tension between patience and action. How are we to balance the urgency that motivates us to do our work with the need for rest and rejuvenation?
Some Tomato Diseases Foiled by Caterpillar Tunnels
By Eric Sideman, Ph.D.
As you read this in December, you are probably already looking forward to next year's tomatoes, but as I write this in mid-October, I am looking out my window at very dead tomato plants in my garden. Sadly, most tomato plants in gardens across Maine and the rest of the Northeast died before summer ended, as they do almost every year. This is OK with me, as most of my tomato plants are still doing fine – because most are in a high tunnel.
Maine Heritage Orchard: A Successful First Year
By John Bunker
The first full year of the Maine Heritage Orchard at MOFGA is coming to its conclusion. It’s been a productive year. The 10-acre reclaimed gravel pit is on its way to full recovery. Dozens of volunteers have been hard at work. Staff has pitched in and played a key role all along the way. We’ve been particularly excited to have the assistance of Angus Deighan and Abbey Verrier. Angus put in many hours over the summer tending the new trees, and Abbey has been helping me with the huge task of documenting the collection.
Life in the Phyllosphere
By C. J. Walke
As organic farmers and gardeners, we understand the importance of a biologically active soil, where beneficial microbes thrive in the rich organic matter and humus layer, converting mineral nutrients into forms that plant roots can use. Research shows that a handful of healthy soil contains more microorganisms than there are people on the planet. We depend on these microbes and trust in their microscopic activity, but the soil is not the only place where microbes colonize and help nurture our crops, and ourselves.
Fresh from the Field Wedding Flowers
A Review by Karen Volckhausen
Lynn Byczynski, editor and publisher of Growing for Market and author of one of my favorite flower bibles, “The Flower Farmer: An Organic Grower’s Guide to Raising and Selling Cut Flowers,” and Erin Benzakein, well known Washington state flower grower and designer, co-authored this wedding flower primer. It is targeted at the marrying couple that wants to use locally grown flowers, grow the flowers, or put them together themselves for their wedding. But it also is appropriate for flower growers and designers.
Harvest Kitchen: Winter Baking with Eggs
By Roberta Bailey
Our 40 chickens don’t venture too far from the warmth of the coop this time of year, but they are still ranging, scratching through the closest garden and under the elders. I supplement their feed with kelp meal and dried hot peppers. The peppers make their yolks quite orange, and the kelp helps with trace minerals and may increase the level of omega 3 fatty acids in the eggs.
Unconditional Access to the Highest Quality Food, by Turil Cronburg
Licensing of Organic Producers by the Maine Board of Pesticides Control, by Eliot Coleman
GMO Labeling Under Maine's LD 718, by CR Lawn
MOFGA Membership to Vote on Proposed Changes to Bylaws
At its October meeting, MOFGA's board of directors voted to present proposed changes to three of the association's bylaws to the MOFGA membership at its annual meeting.
Investing in the Future of Maine Organic Farming
By Ted Quaday, MOFGA Executive Director
Interest in organic farms and food continues to build at the consumer level and among young farmers. This is particularly true in Maine, where a recent survey conducted by the Maine Food Strategy Initiative showed 65 percent of consumers want to see their food humanely raised, 57 percent want their food antibiotic- and hormone-free, and 39 percent are interested in avoiding food made with ingredients from genetically modified organisms. Consumers are coming to understand that these benefits can be obtained by buying certified organic products. This is one of a number of reasons why we are seeing continued growth in the purchase of organic food.
We Feed Ourselves, We Feed the World
By Jean English, Editor, The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener
Ben Falk, in his keynote speech at the Common Ground Country Fair, called for a billion new gardeners, because “we have everything we need right here, right now” to re-establish the perennial-based, diverse and integrated food-producing ecosystems that were here for thousands of years.
Reviews and Web Resources
The Myths of Safe Pesticides, by André Leu
When Coffee Speaks: Stories from and of Latin American Coffeepeople, by Rachel Northrop
The Real Cost of Fracking, by Michelle Bamberger and Robert Oswald
Unique Maine Farms, by Mary Quinn Doyle
The USDA Organic Resource Guide
Four Directories from the USDA
USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 27