|Matt Williams and his daughter Sara Williams Flewelling of Aurora Mills & Farm in Linneas. English photo.
|Garlic shipment from Earth Dharma Farm. Photo courtesy of Earth Dharma Farm.
|Marsh River Food Coop in Brooks. English photo.
Aroostook Grain Acreage Grows With Consumer Demand
By Jean English and John Chartier, MOFGA
Starting or transitioning to an organic farm on a small scale takes dedication – and a good education and great observation and marketing skills. Going organic on hundreds of acres? That can be a significant financial and personal risk.
Walking the Earth Dharma Farm
By Stowell P. Watters
It would do you good to drive to Jackson, out in Waldo County, where the roads go up and down forever and the silent mountains line the horizon. Somewhere between the lowland bogs and the towering hemlocks, between the sweep of untamed spruce and pine woods, you’re sure to feel the lure of the quiet land; the feeling that there are things more expansive and wilder and maybe more important than you and your daily routine. I found that feeling in Jackson while walking the Earth Dharma Farm, where grapes and beautiful garlic grow.
Marsh River Food Coop – New Member and Producer Coop is a Model for Other Coops
By Jon Walsh
Set amid a series of low, forested hills, Brooks, Maine, has long billed itself as the "Heart of Waldo County." The town served from its founding as a supply and processing hub for farmers in the surrounding countryside. In the second half of the 20th century, however, local agriculture began to decline, and many farm-related businesses shut down. The recent growth in small organic farms and homesteads in Brooks has inspired a group of motivated farmers and community members to begin taking steps to revive the agricultural economy there. One of these steps was opening the Marsh River Coop in August 2014.
Saving Trees, Saving Ourselves
By Joyce White
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt commented, "Forests are the lungs of our land." Seventy-five years ago FDR recognized the importance of forests in keeping our environment healthy. How much more important now to keep our national forests intact and thriving with earth’s population reaching 7 billion.
Common Ground Country Fair Keynotes
Going Organic at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
Six years ago, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay decided to convert to organic practices. Many staff members were skeptical that they could maintain a high standard of care with a limited budget if they went this route, but they thought it was vital to try. The experiment has been an overwhelming success: Plants are far healthier, pollinators more diverse, visitors happier and costs have remained the same or decreased. The switch has not been without challenges, however. William Cullina, executive director of the gardens, talked about the conversion during his keynote speech at MOFGA’s 2015 Common Ground Country Fair.
Why Genetically Engineered Foods Are Unacceptably Risky – and How Their Survival Has Been Chronically and Crucially Dependent on Fraud
When public interest attorney Steven Druker, executive director of the Alliance for Bio-Integrity, sued the FDA to force it to divulge its files on genetically engineered (GE) foods, he learned that politics influenced administrators to cover up their own scientists’ extensive warnings about the unusual risks of these foods and to lie about facts. These products were then ushered onto the market in violation of federal food safety laws.
|Panelists at the teach-in on Solar and Energy Conservation for Maine Farms. English photo.
|Small-scale grain threshing. Geoff Johnson photo.
|Summer kohlrabi are much smaller than the storage types. English photo.
Organic and Sustainable? A Deeper Look
By Will Bonsall
The two words that we bandy around so much in alternative agriculture – "organic" and "sustainable" – do we really know what we mean by them? Because let’s make no bones about it: They are very radical ideas.
Common Ground Country Fair Teach-In
Solar and Energy Conservation for Maine Farms and Homes
Maine’s solar resource is comparable to that of cities such as Houston and Miami, and far better than international leaders in solar such as Germany. Yet Maine is falling far behind other U.S. regions in solar installations and job creation due to a lack of solar-friendly state policies.
Developing Small-Scale Processing Capabilities for Maine
By Mark Fulford
The lack of right-sized grain and bean processing equipment for Maine’s many small farms is a decades-long problem that is especially acute today, as demand for locally-grown dry crops is strong and enthusiasm high among both crop and livestock farmers who recognize the economic and agronomic benefits of diversifying into grains and beans.
Bokashi: A Compost Alternative
By Adam Tomash
I love to compost stuff and have been doing it for 50 years – the last 40 in Maine, with its cold winter. I don’t like trudging to the outdoor compost pile in winter. I have to clear a path and brave the cold to get kitchen waste to the pile, and then it just sits there until spring. My search for the perfect solution continues, but bokashi is an important milestone.
For the Celery-Impaired: Try Celeriac
By Jean English
If you’ve had trouble growing good celery, maybe celeriac is the vegetable for you. This biennial, Apium graveolens var. rapaceum, is somewhat easier to grow than its fussier relative, celery; its edible part – a fleshy rootstock – adds a celery-like taste to plenty of dishes; and it lasts a long time in storage – just what we need for a Maine winter.
Kohlrabi – As Wonderful as it is Weird
By Will Bonsall
The so-called "cabbage family" – actually the species Brassica oleracea – has given us several botanical monstrosities we enjoy as food, but none I think is quite so outré as the kohlrabi.
Evolving Root Cellars and Storing Maine Ginger
By Roberta Bailey
I have lived with a root cellar my entire adult life. I consider it an absolute necessity, the hub of winter’s culinary adventures, the go-to place for apples, winter pears, onions, leeks, potatoes, carrots, winter radish, beets, cabbage, rutabagas, celeriac, Chinese cabbage, parsnips and endive.
Pope's Encyclical: Mending a 'Throwaway Culture'
By Grace Oedel
Earlier this year the Pope published a piece of writing that has come to be known as the "climate change encyclical," although it rings out more broadly as calling for a radical shift in culture. The treatise, entitled "Laudato Si," translates to "Praise be to you," a line from the Canticle of St. Francis of Assisi, the famous nature lover and mystic for whom Pope Francis chose his name.
|Huey Coleman (left) and John Bunker. Photo by Judy Wentzell.
|Leaf mold (Fulvia fulva) is a common problem in high tunnels. Eric Sideman photo.
|Choosing community. Toki Oshima drawing.
Huey Coleman and Filming the Maine Heritage Orchard Documentary
By Abbey Verrier
In April 2013, Huey Coleman arrived at MOFGA's Maine Heritage Orchard, camera in hand and ready to film. It was our first planting day, and a big group of volunteers was eager to put 102 apple trees into the ground. For us it was the moment this piece of land became an orchard. For Huey it was the beginning of a 1-1/2-year project documenting and learning all about apples, the heritage orchard and the revived culture surrounding both.
To Spray or Not to Spray?
By C. J. Walke
This is often the unasked question that arises when I deliver library presentations or teach hands-on workshops on growing organic tree fruit. I can see the look on people’s faces change when I mention the backpack sprayer, as if a dark storm cloud has shadowed their sunny afternoon.
This Year It Was Tomatoes in High Tunnels
By Eric Sideman, Ph.D.
Now and then MOFGA organizes "Growers' Meetings," and this year we had a meeting about growing tomatoes in high tunnels.
By Jean English, Editor, The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener
As MOFGA develops a long-term, forward-looking strategic plan, I looked backward for inspiration – to our late director Russell Libby's visionary writing.
MOFGA Farmer Training is Key to a Growing Organic Community
Ted Quaday, MOFGA Executive Director
Through its apprentice and journeyperson farmer training programs, MOFGA has long provided an opening and opportunity for new farmers to learn about organic production and to launch new farm operations.
Reviews and Resources
Bestsellers at the 2015 Common Ground Country Fair
Beyond the War on Invasive Species
Altered Genes, Twisted Truth
The Permaculture City
Birth, Death, and a Tractor
Sarah the Sunflower Seed
The Art of Natural Cheesemaking
A Resource Guide for Beginning Farmers
Packshed Design for Efficiency & Safety
Making the Transition to Organic: Ten Farm Profiles