Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener – Fall 2019

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The MOF&G Fall 2019
Everett Ottinger and Molly Crouse of Nettie Fox Farm
Everett Ottinger and Molly Crouse of Nettie Fox Farm
Raspberry plants are abundantly productive
Plastic row covers
Many agricultural plastics are difficult or impossible to recycle.
Hay mulch
A heavy hay mulch
John Bunker (left) and Nat Pierce with the rare Winn Russet apple. Photo by Cammy Watts
John Bunker (left) and Nat Pierce with the rare Winn Russet apple.
A fertility patch might include a row of comfrey alternating with three rows of alfalfa.

Organic Matter – Food and Agricultural News

A Year on Nettie Fox Farm
By Sonja Heyck-Merlin
In 2009, when Molly Crouse started looking for a farm, she cruised the roads of Newburgh, Maine, her hometown. Located in Penobscot County, Newburgh is 15 miles southwest of Bangor. She also hung up a land-wanted poster at the local variety store. A local landowner responded to the poster. Crouse learned that the land he was selling was a mile from her childhood home and that he remembered her as a child. The 35 acres was intended to be Newburgh’s first subdivision. Crouse bought the first 25 acres with a Farm Service Agency loan. She farmed MOFGA-certified organic Nettie Fox Farm on her own until 2014, when she and Everett Ottinger joined forces.

Growing Berries, Herbs and Flowers Close to the House
By Joyce White
I’m gradually converting much of the lawn that came with my Stoneham, Maine, house into edibles, and the older I get, the closer berry plantings get to the house. Blackberry plants transplanted five years ago from my neighbor’s ancient patch produce luscious fruit in August, and I have already shortened the distance between them and the small deck.

Agricultural Plastic Part II – Recycling
By David McDaniel
In the summer 2019 MOF&G, I discussed how Maine farmers depend on many plastic products and the difficulties of recycling these materials. Here I review some of the limited ways to recycle agricultural plastic and types of plastic to limit or avoid.

To Till or Not to Till
By Will Bonsall
No-till is the rage now and for some good reasons. Plowing, spading and rototilling disrupt the natural soil structure and dilute richer topsoil with low-organic subsoil. Granted, tillage does bring up deep-lying minerals that may have been depleted in the upper layers, but at the expense of using fossil-fueled machinery or onerous muscle power. Deep-delving crop rotations can yield similar results, pumping up minerals from below the reach of most crop plants and sequestering them in organic forms that crop plants can appropriate more easily and over a longer time.

Rapid Apple Decline
By C.J. Walke
In March of this year, numerous reports of apple tree die-off populated the news with titles such as “Across America, Apple Trees are Dying, and Scientists Don’t Know Why” and “Something is Killing Our Apple Trees, and No One Knows Why.” Reports of apple trees “mysteriously” dying in recent years have been coming from Northeastern and Northwestern states as well as Ontario, Canada. Researchers at the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture have named the phenomenon Rapid Apple Decline (RAD), or Sudden Apple Decline (SAD), and an explanation has yet to be found.

Identify Your Apples at the Hayloft Tent
By John Bunker
2019 in shaping up to be a good – maybe even great – apple year in central Maine. We had excellent bloom, good fruit set and decent rain this summer. Many of us will explore, pick and collect apples all fall. Some we’ll know well; others we won’t. Do these apples have names? What are they? How can we find out?

Green Manure Cover Crops at the Fair
By Caleb Goossen, Ph.D.
Green manure cover crop demonstrations have been a staple of the Common Ground Country Fair since the ‘80s. That’s when the Fair was on rented ground, and MOFGA’s first organic crop specialist, Eric Sideman, began setting up cover crop displays in apple crates full of soil, for portability. The crop rotation and soil building provided by green manure cover crops will always be a very important component of organic growing, which is why Eric and I will discuss green manure cover crops and key differences among species from 2 to 3 p.m. each day of the Fair.

What Can We Do Today to Make a Difference for the Forest?
By Noah Gleason-Hart
The challenges facing our forests are daunting. A long history of high-grading – cutting the most valuable trees and leaving those lacking quality – has left many of our woodlots degraded and young. Introduced plants and insects threaten the existence of key species, such as ash, and hinder the ability of forests to regenerate and remain healthy. Climate change has already begun to change the composition of our forests and will continue to impact their ability to provide full ecosystem function. Thankfully, we are not powerless.

MOFGA’s Contributions to the Maine Livestock Industry for the Past 20 Years
By Diane Schivera, M.A.T.
MOFGA Organic Livestock Specialist
When I began working for MOFGA in 1998, we certified one goat and 27 cow dairies; and five beef, six lamb, two wool, five egg, three broiler and two turkey producers. We had little contact with conventional livestock farmers except for those who exhibited at the Common Ground Country Fair annually.

MOFGA’s Clean Cannabis Program
By Chris Grigsby
The goal of MOFGA’s Certified Clean Cannabis program (MC3) is to offer an independent, third-party-verified marketing claim similar to the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) but for cannabis products, which cannot be certified organic at this time. The standards were developed by MOFGA with a group of dedicated Maine caregivers. The program is entering its third year and will finish this application season with about 35 certified operations.

Harvest Kitchen: Change and Opportunity
By Roberta Bailey
As farmers and gardeners, we are all well acquainted with impermanence and resilience. The well-weeded row quickly becomes ragged. The peas mature and go by. A petite zucchini quickly swells to the size of a fat baseball bat. The garlic patch gets harvested and then planted with spinach and strawberries. Change can create opportunity.

Organic Gardening Tips
Grow Husk Cherries in Containers
Collect Seeds of Native Plants This Fall

Running 100 Miles for The Maine Heritage Orchard


Pledge Local and Organic: You’ll Make a Difference
By Sarah Alexander, MOFGA Executive Director
As we’re in the final days of summer, I hope everyone is enjoying the bounty of all that Maine has to offer. From eating blueberries by the handful to soaking in some time at your favorite swimming hole, it’s important to slow down and savor these moments. This August I’ve had an opportunity to savor and really notice what I’m eating since I’ve been doing MOFGA’s local and organic pledge challenge.

All We Are Saying Is Give Bees a Choice
By Jean English, Editor, The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener
“Bees don’t have a choice about where they land,” said MOFGA board member Eli Berry while chatting with me at a MOFGA fundraiser this summer. We were lamenting the excessive use of pesticides, including glyphosate – the active ingredient in Roundup and some other herbicides. His comment summarized perfectly the unjust effects of pesticides on nontarget organisms.

Reviews and Resources
Low-Impact Forestry – Forestry as if the Future Mattered
Growing Kiwiberries in New England: An Online Guide for Regional Producers
Organic Weed Control Video Series Launched
Grain by Grain – A Quest to Revive Ancient Wheat, Rural Jobs, and Healthy Food
Dancing with Bees, A Journey Back to Nature
Making Love While Farming: Field Guide to a Life of Passion & Purpose
Grocery Story: The Promise of Food Co-ops in the Age of Grocery Giants



New Hires at MOFGA
Hillary Barter
Jenny Doyle
Noah Gleason-Hart
Julie Trudel

Staff Profile
Jacki Martinez Perkins

Volunteer Profile
Logan Johnston

Updating and Revising MOFGA’s Bylaws

Grace Oedel
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree

Deepest Condolences
Roy Varney
Kathleen Lomen

Common Ground Country Fair