Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Peggy Schuler
Peggy Schuler of Axis Natural Foods

Axis Natural Foods – Maine’s Longest-Operating Health Food Store
By Rebecca Goldfine
When Peggy Schuler started out in the business of selling organic and natural food in the early 1970s, officials in Maine eyed some of her store’s health items with suspicion. “The health department said we couldn’t have open bins for grains,” Schuler says. “There was a lot of initial discrimination and disbelieving.”

Growing Winter Greens at Half Moon Gardens
By Lynn Ascrizzi
Last January, the big commercial greenhouses at Half Moon Gardens in rural Thorndike, Maine, looked anything but green. Engulfed in deep snow, the tunnel-shaped poly-film structures at the end of an asphalt drive off Route 220 seemed more like an outpost in the Antarctic than a year-round garden center. But a walk inside the center's main entrance and showroom brought the tantalizing, spring-like fragrance of moist, fertile soil.

Grassland Farm: Land Stewardship Starting with Grass
By Holli Cederholm
Grassland Farm spans roughly 300 acres in Skowhegan, Maine, and as its name implies, more than half the land is open acreage used for rotational grazing and haying to feed Garin and Sarah Smith’s certified organic dairy herd. The Smiths purchased the farm – which also includes 120 acres of woods and a 14-acre homestead site with a farmhouse and tie-stall stanchion barn – from Sarah’s father, Robie Leavitt.

Ellis Percy
Ellis Percy makes Beyond Coffee.

Beyond Coffee – Smooth and Naturally Sweet
By Jean English
Many years ago, Ellis Percy tried to convince Common Ground Country Fair food vendors to offer a hot drink in addition to the cider already at the Fair. After repeating the suggestion to no avail for about four years, he decided to come up with a drink himself.

Permablitz in Belfast Creates Edible Landscape
By Jean English
A “permablitz” that BATI organized and helped implement on July 20 fulfilled a dream for Cedar Street resident Karen Ireland and was a model project for others. A permablitz is like a flash mob with lasting purpose. It combines the term “permaculture” – land use design based on ecological principles – and “blitz” – a sudden, intense effort. In Ireland’s case, that involved having a dozen or so people come to her yard, dig up the lawn and prepare ground for two gardens.

A Mainer in Korea
By Cory Whitney
Hello fellow Mainers, from the “Slow City” of Namyangju in the Gyeonggi Province of South Korea, about 20 km from the capital city of Seoul. Namyangju is called a Slow City because it is part of Cittaslow, an aspect of the Slow Food movement. I arrived here this spring to work for the Korea Organic Farming Association (KOFA) to help plan the 17th Organic World Congress (OWC) of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).

Farming with Tree Leaves
By Will Bonsall
Trees and their leaves are probably the greatest natural soil builders on earth, greater even than grasses. (I mean “on earth” literally, as I am not including the oceans.) The incredible proliferation of life that occurs in the forest ecosystems of the world is powered by the prodigious plant biomass of the trees themselves, particularly their leaves.

Planting a chestnut tree
Planting an American chestnut tree

American Chestnuts Populating MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center
By Jean English
On May 20, 2011, a small group of dedicated chestnut enthusiasts met at MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center to plant two blight resistant American chestnut trees on the grounds. Eric Evans, the breeding coordinator and vice president of the Maine Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation, grew the trees from seed obtained from Virginia – the sixth generation product of backcrossing American chestnut to blight resistant Chinese chestnut. After spending a year in Evans’ Camden, Maine, nursery, the 2- to 3-foot-tall specimens were ready for transplanting.

MOFGA’s Spring Growth Conference Covers Hoophouses
Adam Montri of Michigan State University and two Maine growers spoke about hoophouses at MOFGA’s 2011 Spring Growth Conference. Montri, associated with the MSU student farm, helps small and midsized farms increase production and economic viability. He and his wife also have their own small farm.

Polycultures in Orchards: Diversity Creates Ecosystem Health
By C.J. Walke
Driving by a fruit tree orchard or walking through a local pick-your-own operation, we typically see long rows of evenly spaced trees, where the undergrowth is regularly mowed to reduce competition for vital nutrients and the overall look is one of uniformity. This design focuses on labor efficiency, where long rows facilitate the mechanical chores of mowing, spraying, irrigating and harvesting, helping reduce costs and improve profits. In the home orchard and garden, we tend to follow the same patterns for similar reasons, but here, the random can be righteous and the haphazard can be helpful.

Price Differences: Organic Versus Non-Organic; Store Versus Farmers’ Market
By Melissa White Pillsbury
In early 2011, a group of Colby College students surveyed prices for 21 organic and non-organic items at five grocery stores in Waterville. They found a wide range of differences, from 10 percent less for organic brown rice to 134 percent more for organic ground beef. The mean cost for organic items surveyed was 68 percent higher than for non-organic, although organic brown rice was cheaper on average; and organic oatmeal cost an average of 16 cents per ounce, versus 17 cents for non-organic, a 6 percent difference.

Yellow shoulder on tomatoes
Yellow shoulder on tomatoes

By Eric Sideman, Ph.D.
In the past two issues of The MOF&G, I discussed the plant mineral elements nitrogen and phosphorus. The third of the three nutrients most commonly limiting crop growth on farms and in gardens is potassium. Fertilizers come with three numbers printed on the bag, such as 10-10-10.

Comfortable Cows are Happy, Productive Cows
By Diane Schivera, M.A.T.
Robert Graves of Penn State University, the featured speaker at the Maine Dairy Improvement 2011 meeting, talked about cow comfort. His information applies to other livestock as well. Comfortable livestock are likely to be healthier and less stressed than uncomfortable animals – and, therefore, more productive and lucrative for your farm.

Harvest Kitchen: Low- or No-Sugar Jams and Jellies
By Roberta Bailey
From spring through fall, Maine cranks out the fruit. Our winter weary palates get shocked awake with rhubarb. In June, our eyes roll back with the divine perfection of sun-ripened strawberries. July brings on a rush of fleeting pleasures with raspberries, mulberries, gooseberries, sour cherries, currants and blueberries. In August, the blueberries continue, and fall raspberries, peaches and plums join the earliest ripening apples. September holds grapes, pears, apples, hardy kiwis and cranberries in her arms of plenty.

MOFGA logo

Start Vermicomposting Now
Do You Know Where Your Dairy Products Are Processed?

A Chemical Assault
Shopping at Wal-Mart to Eat at the Common Ground Fair
Friends of Maine’s Mountains: Mountains Restore our Souls
Green Thoughts from a NIMBY
Socialized Agriculture


MOFGA’s Farmers: Sound Organic Practices Making a Difference
By Barbara Damrosch
As I write this it is mid-July, and one of those days when everyone says, “This is why I live in Maine.” Sunny skies, but not too hot. A little traffic, but not too much. Flower gardens burst with color, spared the blistering heat that afflicts summer perennials just about everywhere else but England. You might even say we have an English summer. Sometimes I wish we had an English winter too!

Start Where You Are
By Russell Libby, MOFGA Executive Director
Each of us has dreams and ideas about what we’d like to do with our lives. We adapt and adjust, and if we work hard and are lucky, we achieve some pieces of those dreams. Meanwhile, the world around us keeps changing, so we adapt and adjust again, and so the cycle goes. That, at least, has been the way most of us have approached life for a long time. But if the entire structure around us seems to be fading away, we need to try even harder to figure out how to move toward our dreams.

Polycultures as Pest Control Opportunities
By Jean English, Editor, The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener
(Disclosure: The author grows organic Christmas trees.)
The balsam gall midge is a fragile creature. According to Ronald Kelly, a forest insect and disease specialist with the state of Vermont, the orange-colored adults, just over 1/8 inch long, emerge from the soil in spring, when females lay eggs on the needles of newly opened balsam fir buds – unless conditions are so windy that the midges can’t land there. If they do lay eggs, then two to three days later the eggs hatch into larvae, and needle tissue forms a gall around each larva. The larvae exit these galls in the fall and drop to the soil to overwinter.

Reviews & Resources
The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times, by Carol Deppe
Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis, by Sandra Steingraber
How to Fix a Leek & Other Food from Your Farmers’ Market, Revised Ed., by Sandra Garson
The Eat Local Cookbook: Seasonal Recipes from a Maine Farm, by Lisa Turner
The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food, by Ben Hewitt
Crop Rotation on Organic Farms: A Planning Manual, edited by Charles L. Mohler and Sue Ellen Johnson

Web Resources
Video: “GM Crops – Farmer to Farmer”
Basics of Organic Seed Production
Excel Spreadsheets for Poultry Producers
Farmstay Manual
New Farmers
The Learning Center at

MOF&G Cover Fall 2011

Organic Matter
Food & Agriculture News

Maine Board of Pesticide Control
BPC Approves Diazanon for Christmas Trees

New Employees

Fair Participant Profile
Janice and Ken Spaulding

Fair News
Message from the Fair Director
Common Ground Quilt