Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association

CSA List Compiled
New Green Methods Catalog Out
Hydroponic Strawberries
Farm-to-Farm Exchange Program for Kids?
Combining Art and Marketing
Onion of the Month Club?
Maine Cranberry News
Nurturing the Eggs of Our Grandchildren



CSA List Compiled

The USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Network has assembled a list of CSA farms nationwide. The list includes more than 450 farms and offers names and contact information for CSA operations in almost every state. The directory is at www.localharvest.org/csa/ or the complete directory or any state list can be ordered free from CSA/CSRES, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Stop 2207, Washington DC 20250-2207.


New Green Methods Catalog Out

The 2000 Green Methods Catalog – The Millennium Edition – is 56 pages long, chock full of information, and free. To receive a copy, contact The Green Spot at 93 Priest Rd., Nottingham NH 03290-6204; Tel. 603-942-8925; Fax 603-942-8932; 
greenmethods.com/site/contact/.


Hydroponic Strawberries

University of Florida researchers have been experimenting with soilless culture for strawberries, due to the popularity of the crop and the impending phase-out of the soil fumigant methyl bromide. Outdoor hydroponic gardens have been set up using strawberry plug plants placed in layflat bags filled with various media, irrigated with a microirrigation system with an emitter stake at each plant, and with nutrient solutions or controlled release fertilizers providing nutrients. Each 3-foot-long bag contained about 0.5 cubic feet of media and six strawberry plants.

These hydroponic systems are applicable for both small and large farms. Yield with the hydroponic systems in northern Florida, which has a 4-month harvest season, was as great as 1.8 pounds per plant. The hydroponic system arrangement resulted in about 40,000 plants per acre, whereas the typical soil-based system used on commercial farms today results in half as many plants.

Organic culture of strawberries is possible with this system, say the researchers, where media such as perlite are approved for use. The combination of soilless culture of strawberries with greenhouses or other protective structures also is possible and is being used on a small scale around the country. Many options for culture systems are being developed. Most rely on some type of soilless media, including perlite, peat, vermiculite, coconut coir, or others, alone or in mixes. Systems may use layflat bags, upright bags, stacked (columns) of styrofoam containers, horizontal PVC pipes filled with media, or horizontal PVC pipes with strawberry plants in plastic pots inserted in the pipes.

Following are results from research at Univ. of Florida Suwannee Valley Research and Education Center at Live Oak, Florida:

Cultivar Media Yield (lb./plant)
1996
Camarosa Perlite 1.8
Chandler Perlite 1.6
Sweet Charlie Perlite 1.1
Sweet Charlie Perlite/vermiculite 1.0
Sweet Charlie Wood fibers 1.0
1997
Camarosa Perlite 0.9
Camarosa Peat/vermiculite 1.0
Camarosa Perlite/controlled release 0.9
Camarosa Perlite/fertigation 0.9

Source: Vegetarian, Univ. of Florida Cooperative Extension, Jan. 1999.

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Farm-to-Farm Exchange Program for Kids?

Kate Cook, who farms with her husband and five children in Aroostook County, made a great suggestion at MOFGA’s annual meeting in January: How about a farm-to-farm exchange program for our kids? Not that Kate’s kids are fed up with Aroostook and potatoes and are dying to spend a summer week at the ocean … well, not completely. One of her oldest children, Marada, however, is very interested in farming and would like more farming experiences. She has spent time on a New Zealand farm (she’ll write about that for The MOF&G soon), but Kate was suggesting shorter stays at a variety of farms: perhaps a week or two. Sounds like a great idea. Russ Libby has suggested that those of us who have children who help on the farm should list them when we complete our certification applications; then they’ll be listed in this paper. That’s one way to make contacts. The other is to go to MOFGA’s annual meeting, Farmer to Farmer Conference, and other meetings, and meet these families. Seems like more kids are at Farmer to Farmer every year, and if you’re going to be sending your child to another grower’s home for a couple of weeks, knowing the farmer beforehand is a strong comfort factor.

– Jean English

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Combining Art and Marketing

One of the joys of staying at this job for a long time has been watching small farms grow, prosper, and become acknowledged as viable businesses. The latest example to reach my mailbox is that of Old Stage Farm in Lovell. This year, instead of a seed list reproduced on 8-1/2 x 11-inch paper, John and Susan Belding have come out with a very attractive, small catalog of their 70 or so offerings of seeds that they grow organically at their zone 4 farm. They offer seeds of flowers and some unusual and uncommon plants. What really caught my eye was the cover of the catalog: a striking design made with seed pods; an elegant combination of art and marketing; just the one-of-a-kind, highly individual type of thing you won’t find at Wal-Mart!

– Jean English

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Onion of the Month Club?

A potato-of-the-month club is advertised in the Gerritsen’s Woodprairie Farm Catalog, and I’ve seen a bunch-of-roses-of-the-month club advertised in a national magazine. Could the "product-of-the-month" be extended to other commodities or value-added products? Onion of the month? Dry bean? Culinary herb? Grain?

– Jean English

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Maine Cranberry News

Fruit of the month? How about cranberries? John Lasell, editor of Maine Cranberry News, has handed me a couple of issues of that newsletter at the last couple of MOFGA meetings that we’ve both attended. Aside from the newsletter’s dismal subhead – "The New Red Tide" (which John inherited) – this is a good publication for anyone who is interested in this crop. John, who grows cranberries organically himself, covers the entire industry, organic and the other. (Let’s hope he converts the others!) For more information, contact John at RR 1, Box 64, Franklin ME 04634, jamy@panax.com.

– Jean English

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Nurturing the Eggs of Our Grandchildren

Here’s a piece of biology that struck me as profound: In an interview with percussionist and performer Layne Redmond in New Dimensions (July-Aug. 1999), Redmond said, " … all the eggs a woman will ever have form in her ovaries by the time that she is a four-month-old fetus. That means that the egg that became me formed in my mother’s ovary when she was a four-month-old fetus growing in the womb of her mother, my grandmother. In the form of that sacred egg I spent five months in my grandmother’s womb!" Redmond related drumming to being in the womb – "an extension of that first sound that we cellularly formed to" – and to meditating back to that state of "unrestricted consciousness." I think of what I fed those eggs, the eggs of my grandchildren. How will my earlier actions affect their future? Will some part of their cells "remember" the delicious foods we sampled at the Farmer’s Market, the fresh produce from the garden, the warm summer sun during harvest? I hope so. For me, that’s a much more pleasant meditation than thinking of taking my grandchildren (or half of them, anyhow) shopping at the world’s largest food retailer!

– Jean English

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MOF&G Cover Spring 2000