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

Publications \ The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener \ Summer 2019

Tim and Anne Devin of Chase Stream Farm
Tim and Anne Devin of Chase Stream Farm
Terraces at Sataf in the Jerusalem Corridor. Photo courtesy of the photo archive of the Jewish National Fund.
Terraces at Sataf in the Jerusalem Corridor.
Yanna Mohan Muriel is helping plan a farmer to farmer conference in Puerto Rico
Yanna Mohan Muriel is helping plan a farmer to farmer conference in Puerto Rico.

Organic Matter – Food and Agricultural News

Tim and Anne Devin of Chase Stream Farm: They Set Off Running
By Sonja Heyck-Merlin
“I think we both woke up one morning and asked ourselves what we were doing,” Tim Devin (age 58) says. After 23 years as a Marine helicopter pilot, he was on a second career at the Office of Naval Research in Washington, D.C. Anne (age 51), now his wife, was ready to retire after 27 years as a Marine intelligence officer. “We just wanted to do something completely different,” they say.

Edible-podded Peas
By Will Bonsall
When I was a kid, “peas” meant either the fresh (or canned or frozen) “garden peas” we enjoyed in early summer, or the “field peas” we ate as split pea soup or used as ammo in pea-shooters. I was in high school before I heard of a pea that could be eaten pod and all.

Thoughts on Forest Bathing
By Joyce White
When I first heard the term “forest bathing,” images of naked people frolicking through the woods and splashing in a forest brook flashed through my mind. Maybe they then stretched out on sun-warmed pine needles, perhaps even taking a snooze – but certainly not in black fly season. Or winter. But no, “forest bathing” is organized and has a Japanese name, shinrin-yoku.

Smaller and Lighter Beehives Are Better
By Jonathan Mitschele
A heavy problem for most backyard beekeepers, especially those of a certain age, is the 50- to 90-pound weight of a full box of honey. A beehive often is a stack of three, four or more of these boxes, and a few times each summer beekeepers have to lift off one or more of the boxes in the stack to get to one that needs attention. That means lifting some or all of the boxes above the bottom box, doing what needs to be done, and then reassembling the whole thing. That’s a lot of heavy lifting!

Rock and Roll: Terraces in Ancient Jerusalem
By Deborah Rubin Fields
In ancient Jerusalem, a farmer had two choices: Move on (with the hope of doing better elsewhere) or consider clearing rocky hills for cultivation. How challenging was ancient Jerusalem’s topography and climate? Jerusalem had (and has) no natural resources (including water) or fertile land. It was not located on major trade routes. It had no natural topographical defenses.

Agroforestry With Plants of the Eastern Deciduous Forest: Permaculture With a Native Twist
By Heather McCargo    
Agroforestry is the practice of adding trees and shrubs to an agricultural system of traditional crops of vegetables, grains and livestock. Permaculture is agroforestry, with a focus on perennial crops, including herbaceous vegetables and woody plants that produce fruits, nuts or other edible products. Diversifying a farm with trees and shrubs not only produces a valuable harvest and shady foraging area, but also provides the ideal growing environment for high-value woodland medicinal herbs.

Seeking Flint Corn Propagators
By Jean English
“We live with the corn, in all of its manifestations.” Michele Carmel’s understatement amuses me as I sit with Albie Barden and Carmel in their Norridgewock kitchen, knocking my head on the corn hanging above when I get up, glancing at the corn sheller in the dining room, admiring the corn-inspired art on the wall and savoring corn pudding – all near the banks of the Kennebec River where corn has grown for centuries.

Recycling Agricultural Plastic
By David McDaniel
Part I: The Problems with Plastic - Maine commercial farmers are addicted to plastic. Whether we farm organically or conventionally, the economics of modern farming drive our dependence on petroleum-based plastic products.

Cultivating a Farmer to Farmer Conference in Puerto Rico
By Alexandra May and Yanna Mohan Muriel
Yanna Mohan Muriel is a Puerto Rican farmer and activist who attended MOFGA’s 2018 Farmer to Farmer Conference. She grew up on a farmstead in the central Puerto Rican highlands, where her Trinidadian mother and African American father had moved as back-to-the-landers in the 1980s. While attending Bowdoin College in the early 2000s, Muriel worked at Jill Agnew’s Willow Pond Farm in Sabattus. Muriel is part of a group of Puerto Ricans planning to host a Farmer to Farmer Conference on the island in December 2019 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the founding of Organización Boricuá de Agricultura Ecológica (Boricuá Organization of Ecological Agriculture). In March 2019 I spoke with Muriel in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Paul and Sandy Arnold: The Best Job on Earth
By Jean English
Paul and Sandy Arnold of Pleasant Valley Farm in Argyle, New York, call farming “the best job on earth,” and that was the theme of their keynote speech at MOFGA’s 2018 Farmer to Farmer Conference.

Farming for the Long Term and Having Income Into Retirement
By Jean English
Barbara and Jason Kafka of Checkerberry Farm in Parkman, Maine, and Paul and Sandy Arnold of Pleasant Valley Farm in Argyle, New York, spoke at MOFGA’s 2018 Farmer to Farmer Conference about continuing to farm as they age and having income into retirement.

How Safely Do You Operate Your Tractor?
By Ellen S. Gibson, Farm Education Specialist, Maine AgrAbility
How did you learn to drive a tractor? As a woman who began farming in her 40s, I know that training for women is often sketchy or nonexistent. Women who come into farming may have had little exposure to working with tractors and need the opportunity to learn.

Economics of Organic Dairy in New England – Responding to the Milk Price Crisis
By Jon Walsh
The past few years have been difficult for organic dairy farmers in New England. After years of relatively high price premiums and steady consumer demand, the milk price began a steep decline in June 2016. As processors confronted a massive oversupply of organic milk, they began implementing production quotas and volume restrictions, selling excess milk on the conventional market. Unlike previous market slumps, this situation remains unresolved almost three years later.

Harvest Kitchen: Quick and Simple Cakes and Fritters for Summer Meals
By Roberta Bailey
I find that fritters and cakes in a pan are quick, easy additions to a summer meal. When my kids were young, we made flat breads and pan cakes regularly. They would create new versions of a veggie burger or clam cake and help cook them. One sweet summer, when we traded vegetables for crabmeat, we tried over a dozen versions of crab cakes.

Use and Misuse of the Term ‘Organic’
By Jaco Schravesande-Gardei, MOFGA Certification Services LLC
“I’m organic, but I’m not certified.” Have you seen or heard statements like these? Then beware! Use of the word “organic” on an agricultural product in the United States is regulated by the USDA National Organic Program (NOP). The term refers to the way agricultural products are raised and processed. Some of the most important rules regarding the USDA organic seal are that crops must be raised without genetically engineered inputs (including seeds), sewage sludge or irradiation.

Organic Farmers Association
By Dave Colson, Agricultural Services Director, MOFGA
The Organic Farmers Association (OFA) was officially launched in March 2018 by a group of organic farmers and farm organizations during a weeklong meeting in Washington, D.C. This March, as the association reached its one-year anniversary, the same farmers, some new farmers and organizations met in D.C. to develop the organization’s policy positions, visit members of congress and renew support for the mission of the association.

Maine Apple Camp
By John Bunker
August 16 to 18, 2019, will mark the return of Maine Apple Camp (MAC). Apple enthusiasts from Maine and around the country will convene at a traditional lakeside camp for three days of workshops, panels, roundtable discussions, lectures, music, cider tastings, outdoor dining and a lot of just plain fun.

Silviculture Matters! Sharing Lessons from a 65-year Study in Forest Management
By Maren Granstrom
If you own a few acres of woods or often walk in a forest near your home, picture yourself there for a moment. What are the species of trees –coniferous, deciduous or both? Are they all about the same size or a mix of very large trees and little seedlings or saplings? Are there a lot of logs and dead standing trees? Now, ask yourself: What do you know about the history of those woods? While the trees may not seem to change much year to year, what you’re looking at today is largely an outcome of what you and previous owners did or didn’t do.

Daytripping 2019
Farms and Gardens to Visit This Summer
Welcome to the 2019 Daytripping list, an annual MOF&G feature. At this year’s farm and garden tours, learn about solar-powered irrigation or a compost-heated shower, enjoy a sunset potluck supper, see how to spin wool or make soap and how endangered livestock breeds are being preserved … and much more!

Plants Are Key to Sustaining Soil Health
Researching New England’s Seed Savers

More Praise for the Mathers
Avoiding Extinction


Now Is the Time to Invest in Organic
By Sarah Alexander, MOFGA Executive Director
As the growing season gets underway in earnest, whether you’re planting flowers in a pot on your front porch, or tending to acres that will grow vegetables, forage or fiber, we can all be excited about what’s happening with organic agriculture in Maine. The five-year USDA Census of Agriculture came out this spring, and there are some major bright spots for organic agriculture that relate directly to the work of MOFGA.

Bits of Nourishment, Plenty of Fruit
By Jean English, Editor, The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener
In this issue of The MOF&G, Deborah Rubin Fields covers the technique of terracing in ancient Jerusalem, which enabled residents to grow an olive tree or two, or some vegetables. Her piece is a fascinating look at humans’ determination to grow edibles even under the harshest conditions. She mentions a village south of Jerusalem that “still uses irrigated terraces that reportedly date back 4,000 years and are the product of centuries of work.”

Trees of Power – Ten Essential Arboreal Allies
The New Farmer’s Almanac, Vol. 4
Mushroom Cultivation, An Illustrated Guide to Growing Your Own Mushrooms at Home
Can We Feed the World without Destroying It?
Infinite Succulent