Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
MOFGA Annual Meeting
President's Address
John Bunker

Supporting Our Farmer-Heroes
Amanda Beal, MOFGA President

Organic Food: A Niche, or the Future?
Russell Libby, MOFGA Executive Director

Sustainable Fundraising for Schools
Jean English, Editor of The MOF&G

Is Ramial Chipped Wood the Way of the Future?

by Jean English
Editor, The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener

Celine Caron continues educating us about the long-term soil fertility-promoting properties of Ramial Chipped Wood (RCW) in this edition of The MOF&G (Redefining Soil Fertlity). Her first MOF&G article about using chips of wood from small (3-inch-diameter and under) branches of deciduous trees appeared in our Dec. 1998-Feb. 1999 issue. Eight years later, we note that 10 of Maine’s organic growers expressed interest in having USDA’s New England Plant, Soil, and Water Lab in Orono research the subject, according to Dr. Wayne Honeycutt of that Lab.

Also, an international conference on the subject took place in Lyon, France, in January, so we may be hearing more about RCW and its use worldwide soon; it holds promise for all soils, but seems like one of the most important solutions for denuded soils in some places of Africa, for instance.

Last August, Vern Grubinger of the University of Vermont had a short article on RCW in Growing magazine, in which he noted the work done at Laval University in Quebec over the past few decades as well as at Cornell from 1951-1965. (See

What could be more sustainable than growing your own agricultural soil fertility in a nearby woodlot?


Proposed USDA-ARS Organic Site in Unity Needs Support

The USDA-ARS New England Plant, Soil, and Water Lab, by the way, has been helping organic farmers for some time and is promoting sustainable agriculture through fact sheets, a CD on potato cropping systems, and more (see It would like to conduct even more research into organic systems on a 170-acre site in Unity that is available through Maine Farmland Trust. Doing so would require Congressional authorization enabling the lab to purchase the land for organic agricultural research; and Congressional appropriation of $600,000 to USDA-ARS New England Plant, Soil & Water Laboratory (Orono, Maine) to purchase the site for $250,000 and construct a $350,000 equipment building there. The site would be a huge asset for synergistic research among different disciplines, from soil physics to soil biology and more. It would become a leading U.S. institution for organic research.

To support this project, please contact the following and request that they support authorization to purchase the land and appropriation of $600,000 to buy and build on the land:

Sen. Olympia Snowe: contact Terry McNaughton at or Fax 202-224-1946

Sen. Susan Collins: contact Amanda Hill at or Fax 202-224-2693

Congressman Michael Michaud: Contact Michael Brownlie, or Fax 202-225-2943

Congressman Tom Allen: Contact Emily Knight, or Fax 202-225-5590


Daytripping, Anyone?

Jean English
Editor, The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener

It’s spring … almost – the time when we ask if you’d like to host a tour of your farm or garden this summer. If so, we can put you on our “Daytripping” list, to be published in the June-August issue of The MOF&G. You just supply your farm name, owners’ names, farm or garden features (briefly), date and time when visitors are welcome, directions and contact information; we publish the listing; the rest is up to your visitors and you. You may get one or even no visitors; or you may get dozens. We suggest setting one or two particular times for your tour so that your entire day isn’t tied up. Many growers use our “Daytripping” list as a place to publicize that their farms are open on Maine’s Open Farm Day (Sunday, July 22, this year). For more information, please contact Jean English at