Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association

Bahner Farm produce

Bahner Farm: Customer Creation in Belmont, Maine
By Holli Cederholm
Bahner Farm’s 37 acres of woodlot and tillable land abuts a busy stretch of Rt. 3 in Belmont, Maine, with just enough road frontage for their farmhouse, barn and, most importantly, their newly built farmstand. When Mike and Christa Bahner purchased the land in 2009, location and road exposure were determining factors.

Coastal Farms and Foods Serves Local Agriculture, Big and Small
By Betsy Garrold
A tour of the Coastal Farms and Foods facility on Northport Ave. in Belfast begins in the kitchens. Just as the kitchen is the heart of the home, these industrial-size kitchens are the heart of Jan Anderson’s vision and business model. This new enterprise carries on a long tradition of food processing in the city. Plants that processed chicken, sardines and potatoes have all come and gone, but Anderson, president and CEO of Coastal Farms, says she is “creating a business that will last 100 years.”

Strawberries Galore
By Joyce White
From the time I was 10, the first sunny days of summer vacation would find me walking purposefully past placid Holsteins munching dandelion-studded grass. I would set out full of high spirits and expectation, with an empty pan and Tinker, the family dog, across pasture and brook, until I entered the stretch of woods that opened into an abandoned field where wild strawberries ripened first. And then, my idea of heaven: ripe strawberries lying in a jeweled carpet shining in the sun through the sparse grass of the untended field.

Deb Soule of Avena Botanicals

Maine Growers Link Biodynamics, Organic
By Jean English
More than 700 people attended the November 2012 North American Biodynamic Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. Among them were invited speakers Tom Griffin and Deb Soule, presenter Jennifer Greene of The Water Institute of Blue Hill, and Maine growers Dylan Chapman and Madeline Owen.

Spring Greens and Roots
By Beedy Parker
I’ve been making a list of the edible greens that come early in the vegetable garden, as weeds and bonus vegetable greens. Here’s how it goes: Dandelion greens are the earliest, just the rosette out of the soft beds – and you might want to break off the root to roast for dandelion coffee; the new young tips of invading nettles; hops shoots; young dame’s rocket and creeping bellflower leaves; lovage stalks – like tender celery for the first few weeks; first-year burdock roots; last year’s parsnips as they emerge; Jerusalem artichoke and skirret roots.

Spring Wild Greens: More Than a Trailside Nibble
By Chris Knapp
There is something intrinsically wonderful about wild food. Over the years my wife and I have shared wild plants with countless people. Folks bend down to the earth, pick a plant and put it in their mouths. Aha! An essential truth about our human relationship with the earth comes into focus: We have nothing, we need everything, and the earth is a treasure trove of gifts.

A Blue Orchard bee "condo."
Tomash photo.

The Blue Orchard Bee (BOB): Optimizing Fruit Tree Pollination for Maine Orchards
By Adam Tomash
The honeybee is the pollinator we most depend on, but other pollinators exist, and 4,000 species of feral (native) bees live in North America. Roughly one-third of these bees nest in small cavities or tunnels, such as hollow plant stems, borer tunnels and cracks between house shingles. Increased urbanization and modern building materials lacking cracks and crevices have decreased nesting opportunities for feral pollinators.

MOFGA’s 2012 Farmer to Farmer Conference

Feeding New England: Where We Are, What’s Ahead of Us, What We Can Do To Make a Difference
By Russell Libby
In his keynote speech at MOFGA’s Farmer to Farmer Conference in November 2012, just a month before his death, Russell Libby summarized MOFGA’s accomplishments, the state of organic agriculture, and what we need to do to feed Maine and New England with healthful crops. A post-keynote workshop on feeding New England is covered below, as well.

Farm Hack: Collaborative Innovation and Tool Design
In a slight twist on the usual format for sessions at MOFGA’s Farmer to Farmer Conference, Benjamin Shute described the Farm Hack project and then session participants divided into three groups to brainstorm ideas or desires for innovations on the farm.

Crops for High Tunnels
Speakers at MOFGA’s November 2012 Farmer to Farmer Conference addressed three crops for growing in high tunnels: raspberries, ginger and winter sprouting broccoli.

Jay Feldman of Beyond Pesticides

Common Ground Country Fair Keynote Speech
On the 50th Anniversary of Silent Spring, A Call for Action
By Jay Feldman, Executive Director, Beyond Pesticides
I want to talk with you about the regulation of pesticides and the countervailing organic solution to pollution – where we’ve been and where we need to go. And interspersed in the talk, I will share the insights, vision, guidance and truths that Rachel Carson speaks about in her own words from Silent Spring.

Common Ground Country Fair Teach-In 2012
Where Have All the Bees Gone?
Beekeepers Theresa Gaffney of Highland Blueberry Farm in Stockton Springs, Maine, and David Hackenberg of Hackenberg Apiaries in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, and scientists Dr. Frank Drummond of the University of Maine and Dr. Kimberly Stoner of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station addressed the issue of Colony Collapse Disorder.

Food Safety Modernization Act – An Update
By Cheryl Wixson, P.E.
On January 4, 2013, the FDA released for public comment its proposed rule for preventing foodborne illnesses from foods eaten by humans. As part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), this proposed rule aims to establish science-based, minimum standards for growing, harvesting, packing and holding produce in its raw or natural (unprocessed) state on domestic and foreign farms.

Resource Guide to Organic Insect and Disease Management
Second Edition of Best Seller Is Hot Off the Press

By Eric Sideman, Ph.D.
In 2005, MOFGA, OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) and NEON (Northeast Organic Network) jointly produced the Resource Guide for Organic Insect and Disease Management. In 2008 some of the same authors thought it was time to expand and update the book. Taking the lead this time, MOFGA applied for and received a SARE (USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) grant. Now, five years later, the second edition of the Resource Guide for Organic Insect and Disease Management is available.

Stone Fruit Challenges
By C. J. Walke
Most Maine orchards typically grow apples and pears – hardy, long-lived pome fruit that withstand cold Northern winters and the tests of time. However, stone fruits of the genus Prunus (peaches, plums, cherries, nectarines, apricots) are a pleasant addition to the small orchard or backyard planting.

An Update From MOFGA’s Common Woodlot
By Andy McEvoy
Most folks see only the swath of forest along the Pine Road on their way into or out of the Common Ground Country Fair. The Low-Impact Forestry Project (LIF) at MOFGA has been working within sight of the Pine Road at various times over the past decade. If you’ve been this way, you’ll have noticed that the south side of the road abutting the railroad tracks is dense, dark and generally growing poorly. That area was intentionally left unmanaged for comparison.

Tips from Livestock Experts
By Diane Schivera, M.A.T.
Part of my job is to attend meetings where experts, including farmers, talk about livestock. This year those meetings included the Maine Agricultural Trades show, which had a session for the Maine Grass Farmers Network, the Common Ground Country Fair, and the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (NODPA) meeting.

Sneak Preview of New Tool to Find Seasonal Maine Food on MOFGA’s Website!
By Melissa White Pillsbury
A new application to be posted on MOFGA’s website will allow users to search for food that is in season in Maine, and point them to farms and markets where those products are available.

Cold-hardy greens. English photo.

Now We Enjoy Winter Greens and Winter Roots
By Roberta Bailey
In A Midwife’s Tale, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich tells of walking across the frozen Kennebec River in Hallowell at Thanksgiving time. The river is tidal there, well past Augusta. In winter, the ice heaves and jams and builds up, often causing troublesome backup floods in March. These days, we don’t get winters cold enough to freeze the rivers that solid until January or later. Last winter barely dipped below zero in central Maine. Sections of the Kennebec in Hallowell never froze.

Hungry for Hostas
By Ansel Oommen
Hostas: These garden fixtures boast a well-kept secret – they’re perfectly edible!

On Dean Foods’ Support of California’s Prop. 37


Remarks by Heather Albert-Knopp, MOFGA President
I am sincerely honored and grateful to have the opportunity to serve MOFGA in this role. I bring the perspective of having grown up with MOFGA as a fixture in my life and landscape. My parents brought me to the first Common Ground Fair in ’77 – I don’t actually remember it, but I wish I did!

Create a Beneficial Footprint
By Jean English
“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity that belongs to us. When we see it as a community to which we belong, we can treat it with love and respect.” Arlene Nelson’s words in a short video by the Real Food Media Project sum up the basis of true organic agriculture and a philosophy that we need for the planet if we are to survive.

Russell Libby in 2008. English photo.

For Russell from John
Dec. 15, 2012
By John Bunker
Russell was extremely intelligent and extraordinarily well read. We all know that. He was well aware of the challenges and failures of modern society. He understood them, and he wasn’t afraid to point them out. How is it that a man who was so aware of all this could be so fun to be with? So much at peace throughout his life, right up to the end? Why wasn’t he somber or tortured and tormented? This is a question that I have asked myself on many occasions. And, it is here that we may find Russell’s greatest lesson to us all as we move forward without him.

Commissioner Honors Russell Libby
Walter E. Whitcomb, commissioner of Maine’s Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources, spoke these words at the Maine Agricultural Trades Show in Augusta in January when he honored the legacy of Russell Libby with the Commissioner’s Distinguished Service Award. Mary Anne Libby accepted the award on her late husband’s behalf.

Reviews & Resources
Gathering Moss
Video: Betting the Farm

Organic Matter

Maine BPC
Maine BPC Hears About EEE, WNV

MOFGA Staff Profile: Emily Horton
Seed Swap and Scion Exchange
MOFGA's Spring Growth Conference
Earth Day Volunteer Work Day
Farm and Homestead Day
MOFGA Heritage Orchard
MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee Empty Bowl Supper
Trails Coalition Makes Headway

Donor Profile
Herb Talks to Benefit MOFGA

Fair News
2013 Poster Unveiled
Summer Fair Assistant