Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener – Fall 2017

Publications \ The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener \ Fall 2017

Lynn Allen with her husband, Charlie Allen.
"Green Man" carving by Pat Austin
The Chase family has been involved in dairy farming in Aroostook County for more than 60 years.
'Pink Princess' tomato
Shiitake mushroom
Logo of the Foothill Farm Alliance

Urban Homestead
By Lynn Hower Allen
In 1975, the year we met, my then husband-to-be, Charlie, bought a derelict house and 10 acres of land in Union, Maine. The long, rectangular property stretched across a south facing slope at an elevation of 600 feet and had a large middle field that the previous owner had picked clean of rocks. We married, fixed up and sold the old house, and settled into a new, passive solar house to raise our two boys and lots of vegetables in a (briefly) MOFGA-certified organic garden. My husband taught school; I worked part-time and stayed home with the kids – precisely the life we had wanted. Our kids grew up with lots of good organic food, summer days haying with the neighbors, big pumpkins for Halloween, sledding down our long driveway in winter. In June of 2008 my husband retired from teaching, a bit early because he hadn’t been feeling just right. In November of that year, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Nature and the Green Man
By Joyce White
I’ve always suspected there is some kind of magic in woods, fields and gardens. Why else have I always felt calmer, happier and healthier whenever I return from a long field and woods ramble or from a few hours spent on my knees in garden soil?

Organic Dairy Industry Growing in Aroostook County
By John Chartier, MOFGA agricultural specialist for Aroostook County, and Jean English
Dairy farming has a long, rich history in Aroostook County. According to Clarence Day in “Farming in Maine 1860-1940,” A. P. Bennett of the town of Linneus built the first butter factory in Maine in 1878, and Fort Fairfield, Presque Isle and Houlton each had cheese factories in the late 1800s. Houlton and Presque Isle later constructed their own successful butter factories, largely because southern Aroostook County had a successful dairy and cattle market. The Aroostook dairy industry has had its ups and downs since then. Over the past few years, MOFGA and Organic Valley (OV) have been working together to build those ups.

Dry Beans – A Staple Crop Worth Growing
By Will Bonsall
Ordinarily I advise people with limited garden space not to focus on growing staple crops such as grain and oilseeds that are less expensive to buy and require less processing. That is, growing your own tomatoes, carrots and cabbage makes more sense than growing wheat and oats, if you can't do everything. Dry beans may be an exception. They are a high-protein staple, which many vegans, like me, tend to view as a meat analog. Quality organic beans are relatively expensive to buy (typically $2 to $3 per pound), and you can grow a significant quantity, especially of pole varieties, in a limited area.

Backyard Selection: Dabbling in Plant Breeding
By Roberta Bailey
Every farmer and gardener can be a plant breeder. Humans have dabbled with plants since they started harvesting and later cultivating them. You do not need acres of land or multiple degrees. Obviously, one can devote years of education and a lifetime career to breeding professionally, an honorable and fascinating endeavor, but anyone can dabble. That is how the plants used for breeding material and food got here. People saved their own seed. People selected the best plants for their needs.

Three Mushrooms for the Farm and Homestead
By Geoffrey Nosach
Every farmer and gardener works in concert with the kingdom of fungi. The composting process relies on native fungal friends to convert carboniferous materials into a rich humus, which in turn provides the soil fertility we need to grow crops. Primary, secondary and tertiary decomposers work in succession and can be used intentionally to bring forest and pasture products home to bear fruit in the garden. Three common species can be wonderful allies in this natural process.

Climate Change is Putting the Squeeze on Bumble Bees
By Sue Smith-Heavenrich
As the planet warms, many animals – and even plant populations – are migrating to cooler areas.  Some expand their ranges northward; others move upslope, to higher elevations. But not bumble bees.

Foothill Farm Alliance
By Stowell Watters
As I write this in July, a dozen organic brown eggs costs about $5 at the local grocery store, the tomatoes are green going pink, the pigs are on forage and the rain is fine to heavy. By the time this is published, the farm report will be wholly different, with new crops to tend and to price, new faces to meet and hands to shake, and new weather patterns to admonish or gripe over. This is the hubbub of the farm community: the language of a world so obfuscated by our modern consumer culture that it seems a relic of a simpler, older time.

Farming and Logging with Horses: A Holistic Relationship
By Richard Lee
The day before writing this, I spent what I thought would be a leisurely Sunday on a forecart driving my team 4 miles down the road to pick up a free horse-drawn hay loader. I had gone over in my mind a few times what I was setting out to do, as I usually do with any kind of horse work, but I realized too late that I had not thought through the return trip: the implement new to the horses, the noise it might make, the new environment we were traveling through together.

Next Year's Pest Management Begins Now
By Eric Sideman, Ph.D.
Fall garden care is the beginning of spring  garden pest management. Many insects and pathogens spend the winter in the soil or on crop debris in wait for next season’s plantings. If such pests are recurring problems for you, then the best time to rid your garden of them is the fall. If  these pests are not a problem for you, then I recommend the guiding principle of adding as much crop debris as possible to the soil in the fall. Below are some common gardening issues and some options for fall management.

Evaluating Sericea Lespedeza and Big Trefoil as Perennial Forage Crops in Maine
By Diane Schivera, M.A.T.
I was a project director for USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Partnership project ONE14-203, High-tannin pasture plantings, evaluating the potential for growing sericea lespedeza and big trefoil as perennial crops in Maine. Both are valuable pasture crops for sheep and goats because their leaves have relatively high levels of tannins. Numerous studies have shown that plants high in condensed tannins help reduce populations of Haemonchus contortus (barber-pole worm), a parasite that can be a serious threat to small ruminant animals.

The Value of MOFGA Certification and Organic Integrity
By Chris Grigsby, Director, MOFGA Certification Services LLC
As many know, MOFGA has been certifying organic operations for decades. We are proud to have been one of the first in the nation and well ahead of USDA adoption of the National Organic Program (NOP) in 2002.

Maine Heritage Orchard Reprints 2009 Apple Shirt
By Laura Sieger, MEHO intern
For years people have been asking if the 2009 Common Ground Country Fair T-shirts with the apple design are still available. They’ve long been sold out, and past Fair shirts have never been reprinted – until now! The Maine Heritage Orchard (MEHO) committee has worked with Liberty Graphics to reprint the design as an orchard fundraiser. The front will be the same as the 2009 shirt and poster; the back will say “Maine Heritage Orchard Preserving the Old, Exploring the New.”

Connecting with Fungi
By Roberta Bailey
Lately I have been focusing on connections. I have been reading about mycorrhizal relationships between plants and fungi and thinking about the deep connections between our ecosystem and our mental and physical health. Our culture tends to isolate things in order to study them, from insects attacking a plant to an animal’s role in the wild to a disease in the body. Much of the focus is on differences, but awareness is growing of the interconnected microbiome that surrounds us and thrives within us – at the same time that we strive to thrive within all of that biome. We are learning to look at as much of the whole as we can fathom.

About That Check-off


Organic Matters, You Matter, MOFGA Matters
By Jean English
You know what really matters when mention of the ECB in the mainstream media makes you think, first and foremost, “European corn borer!” and not the far less important – to our community – European Central Bank. What matters to us is growing food, flowers, trees, herbs and fibers in quality, living, carbon-sequestering soil, without synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and with attention to the social, economic and environmental strengths of our communities (and, by extension, of the world).

Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm
The Ecology of Care
Forest Gardening in Practice
The Permaculture Promise


Volunteer Profile
Josiah Orm Hanson

Staff Profile
Eleanor Salazar

Thanks to Farm & Homestead Day at MOFGA 2017 Donors and Volunteers!

Ryan Fahey Dennett and Michael Dennett
Stowell Watters and Marina Steller
Gary Lawless

Sue Curra
Willow Ann Schwarz
Al Putnam

Common Ground Country Fair
Message from the Fair Director