|Gene (left) and Mary Margaret Ripley
|Amy LeBlanc (left) and Will Allen of Growing Power Inc.
|April Boucher (left) and Michael Ableman
|Local Pesticide Control teach-in panel
|Farmland in the El Salvador mountains
|Ground cherries on a trellis
|Gardeners Growing Healthy Communities
|Frank Giglio. Photo by Lynn Karlin
Ripley Farm: Valuable and Valued in Piscataquis County
By Jean English
In just seven years, Ripley Farm has become an important source of MOFGA-certified organic vegetables, herbs, flowers and pork as well as a leader in serving the local community of Dover-Foxcroft, Maine.
In-depth Preparation Cultivates Success at Two Farmers Farm
By Stowell Watters
Every five years the U.S. Department of Agriculture compiles an official Census of Agriculture so that we, as a nation, might check under the hood of our agricultural goings-on. It gathers information from the 2.2 million U.S. farms and jams it into graphs and data sets.
Oxen, Organic Christmas Trees, Fisheries and More
By Jean English
Sixteen-year-old Gil Whitehead of MOFGA-certified organic Winterberry Farm in Belgrade is a young man with a plan – and a team of oxen, an organic Christmas tree operation, a boat and lobster fishing business, a cabin-in-the-making and more.
Conservation Farm Tour of Brochu Homestead
By Katy Green, Kacey Weber and Jean English
In 2016, MOFGA cosponsored four Conservation Farm Tours with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and local Soil and Water Conservation Districts to highlight conservation strategies used on Maine farms and woodlots. Each tour focused on a specific conservation theme and showed how farmers manage their land to support soil health, wildlife and the natural environment. The tours, which will continue in 2017, are supported by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under number 69-3A75-16-012.
Wood Gasification – An Efficient Way to Burn Wood
By Ben Hoffman
Properly dried and burned wood is an excellent green fuel for rural heating. Since freshly cut wood may be 60 percent water, the key to minimizing wood cutting, splitting and stacking is to let it dry for at least a year. If you don't, about 40 percent of your wood is burned just to drive off water – no heat results. Most stoves burn with 40 to 60 percent efficiency, and outdoor wood boilers usually get 30 to 50 percent, while a wood gasifier gets 80 to 92 percent – but the key is dry wood. After a year, wood moisture content may be 20 to 35 percent; after two years, 10 to 20 percent. My gasifier calls for 15 to 25 percent moisture for maximum efficiency, so I dry wood for two years and recently completed a solar wood dryer to try to cut drying time.
2016 Common Ground Country Fair Keynotes
Growing Power and the Good Food Revolution
Will Allen, a keynote speaker at MOFGA's 2016 Common Ground Country Fair, is an urban farmer who is transforming the planning, cultivation, production and delivery of healthy food to urban and rural populations. The son of a southern sharecropper, he was a professional basketball player and then worked in corporate sales and marketing at Procter & Gamble. In 1993 Allen purchased the last remaining registered farm in Milwaukee, where he founded and now functions as farmer and CEO of the world-preeminent urban farm and nonprofit organization Growing Power Inc. He is a national and international leader in urban and rural agriculture and food policy.
Street Farm – Growing Food, Jobs and Hope on the Urban Frontier
Michael Ableman, cofounder and director of Sole Food Street Farms, is one of the early visionaries of the urban agriculture movement. He has created high-profile urban farms in California and British Columbia; has worked on and advised dozens of similar projects throughout North America and the Caribbean; and founded the nonprofit Center for Urban Agriculture in the early 1980s. He is the subject of the award-winning PBS film "Beyond Organic." His books include "From the Good Earth," "On Good Land," "Fields of Plenty" and the newly released "Street Farm – Growing Food, Jobs, and Hope on the Urban Frontier."
A New England Food Vision
Considerations for building capacity to produce at least 50 percent of the region's food by 2060
In 2011, Amanda Beal and several others, including Russell Libby (then MOFGA's executive director), began to explore deeply the capacity for New England to produce much more of its food than it currently does. They developed "A New England Food Vision: Healthy Food for All, Sustainable Farming and Fishing, Thriving Communities," published by Food Solutions New England.
2016 Common Ground Country Fair Teach-In
Local Pesticide Control: How Your Town Can Protect Health and the Environment
With a 700 percent increase in the distribution of home-use pesticide products in Maine in recent years, what are citizens' options when state and federal governments are not adequately protecting our health and environment from these toxic chemicals?
MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee – 15 Years of Solidarity
In 2016 the MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee celebrated 15 years of sistering with MOFGA-like organizations in El Salvador. Our committee came about when Salvadoran farmers linked with the Bangor-Carasque Sister City Project talked about issues they face, and some members of the Bangor committee (as well as Russell Libby) noted that farmers in both countries face some similar issues.
Ground Cherries – a New World Treat
By Will Bonsall
Some of the Solanum plant family figure large in the food culture of many nations; try to picture a cuisine without tomatoes, peppers or eggplant (all right, Welsh; you got me there). Yet one of its most taste-tempting members – the ground cherry (Physalis peruviana) – is generally overlooked.
Growing Ramps from Seed
By Heather McCargo
Ramps are a delicious wild edible food beloved by chefs and locavores. Also known as wild leeks (Allium tricoccum), they are a member of the onion family and are a perennial woodland wildflower native to the eastern deciduous forest from Canada to Georgia and west to the prairie states.
Gardeners Growing Healthy Communities
By Joyce White
On a sunny Thursday afternoon in mid-September, about 15 volunteers are engrossed in a variety of garden-related activities – harvesting kale and cabbage, dividing a big bowl of ‘Sungold' cherry tomatoes into separate baggies, weighing and recording harvested fresh vegetables from these first-year raised beds and weighing donated produce. These activities are taking place at Gardeners Growing Healthy Communities (GGHC) on Route 26/Park Street in South Paris.
The First Heirloom Apple Collection:
Thoughts from the Maine Heritage Orchard
By John Bunker
Now and then someone asks me the date of the first heirloom apple collection. I usually say 1934 – and I usually attempt to define an heirloom apple. After all, if you don't know what an heirloom apple is, can you know the date of the first heirloom collection?
Maine Harvest Bucks Stretch SNAP Benefits, Support Farmers
By Heather Omand
In 2015 MOFGA, as one partner in the Maine Local Food Access Network (MLFAN), embarked on a collaborative initiative to increase access in Maine to local, healthy foods. The MLFAN developed Maine Harvest Bucks.
Creating a Raised Bed Garden
By Dave Colson
Each spring the MOFGA office receives calls from gardeners looking for "certified organic topsoil" for raised beds in their gardens. We have to respond that certified organic topsoil does not exist.
Harvest Kitchen: Frank Giglio's Gifts of Divine Recipes
By Roberta Bailey
We are in the short, dark days of winter, a time for reflection as well as a time for revelry; a time to hunker down, a time to read, as well as a time to sharpen the skates, wax the skis, strap on the snowshoes, bundle up the kids and haul the toboggan up the hill. It is a time for deeply satisfying winter foods, such as soups, stews, cornbread and pie. It is a time for making festive creations to share with family and friends.
The Ins and Outs of Organic Inspections
By Jacomijn Schravesande-Gardei, MOFGA Certification Services LLC
In order to sell, label or represent products as organic in the United States, farming and processing operations must be certified. MOFGA Certification Services (MCS) is accredited by the USDA to certify and inspect organic operations.
Blueberries, Food Safety and Liability Insurance – Arthur Harvey, Hartford, Maine
Power to the Swarm
By Jean English
Sometimes the good guys win … at least partially. When they do, it's usually because so many little guys banded together to overpower or undermine one or a few big bad guys, and a lot of that banding together takes place around quality food.
New Strategic Plan Charts MOFGA's Course Through 2021 and Beyond
By Ted Quaday
The MOFGA community has a new, long-term blueprint for activity and growth following its board of directors' August 2016 approval of a new strategic plan entitled "Engaging a Thriving Organic Community."
Resources and Reviews
Sepp Holzer's Permaculture: A Practical Guide to Small-Scale Integrative Farming and Gardening
The Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover of America's Food Business
Heirloom Harvest: Modern Daguerreotypes of Historic Garden Treasures
The New Livestock Farmer: The Business of Raising and Selling Ethical Meat
Bounty from the Box: The CSA Farm Cookbook
The Carbon Farming Solution
Street Farm: Growing Food, Jobs, and Hope on the Urban Frontier
Permaculture and Climate Change Adaptation