Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association

Organic Matter
A Compendium of Food and Agricultural News

Low Cost Ways to Grow Heat-Loving Plants in Maine
by Adam Tomash and June Zellers
© 2007
Photos by the authors
Eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and cucurbits are among our favorite crops. All require warm soil and a fairly long growing season, which means they need a protected, heated space in the cool Maine spring. We are gardeners growing for our own consumption and can’t justify the expense or complexity of a heated greenhouse – but we have found a way to produce these crops reliably year after year without a permanent greenhouse.

Glorious Greens
by Jean English
No surprise: I came home from the Common Ground Country Fair with a cornucopia of gardening ideas; and the lush results that came from taking a little time, space, seed and compost that were displayed at the Fair encouraged me to spend that little bit of extra time this fall to ensure a more prolific garden in all seasons.

Extend the Growing Season with Coleman’s Double-Covered Low Tunnels
by Jean English
Eliot Coleman has another great idea – one that will extend the growing season at far lower cost than the $1500 or so required for a hoop house.

MOFGA Poultry Tractor
English photo

Fairgoers Flock to See Chicken Tractors
by Jean English
Chicken tractors were so well represented at the Common Ground Country Fair that anyone with even a small patch of yard could go home knowing how to raise a couple of laying hens or a small flock of meat birds.

Epazote: The Flavor of Mexico Comes North
By Jason Moore
Local farmers’ markets are an excellent source of traditional organic produce, such as sweet corn, peas and tomatoes, but also of regional and ethnic favorites, such as fresh fiddleheads, chicory, okra or chayote. As regional demographics change and new immigrant communities appear, farmers’ markets reflect these changes, and previously unknown Mexican-American foods and spices are now common in farmers’ stalls from Springfield, Massachusetts, to Ellsworth, Maine.

Rivard's Highbush Blueberries
Photo courtesy of David Handley.

Growing Highbush Blueberries
From talks by David Handley of Maine Cooperative Extension Service and Jerry Rivard, who cultivates 2,000 blueberry plants in Springvale, Maine, at MOFGA and Cooperative Extension’s 2006 Farmer to Farmer Conference in Bar Harbor.

What Consumers Have to Teach Us
by Merry Hall
At a “Word of Mouth” conference convened by Heart of Maine to help local farmers optimize marketing, a 12-person focus group was asked why they buy from local farmers.

John Jemison: Creating Community Around Food
by Rhonda Tate
“What are we going to do when Wal-Mart doesn’t exist anymore?”
I think about the question that John Jemison posed from his Orono office, overlooking the Stillwater River. He’s talking about the ability of companies such as Wal-Mart to exist because our government subsidizes fuel costs for transporting products and consumers to big box stores, and such companies don’t pay for the negative externalities caused by burning fossil fuels. Without such subsidies, “I am sure Wal-Mart could not stay in business,” says Jemison.

Using Ramial Chipped Wood to Improve Fertility in a Fruit Tree Nursery
by Ann Currier
It has been encouraging to see the attention that Ramial Chipped Wood (RCW – chips of deciduous tree branches that are smaller than 7 cm in diameter) is getting in The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. In 2004, I received a SARE grant to study the use of RCW in my fruit tree nursery.

Keynote Speakers: 2007 Common Ground Country Fair

The Importance of Pickles …
Or, Why I Put Up with Teenagers Working in My Greenhouse!

by Amy LeBlanc
Pickles and teenagers took center stage on September 21, 2007, when long-time MOFGA farmer Amy LeBlanc of Whitehill Farm in East Wilton delivered her keynote speech at the Common Ground Country Fair.

Mainers Can Get the Toxics Out – of Bodies, Environment
by Hannah Pingree
Hannah Pingree, of North Haven, is the Majority Leader of the Maine House of Representatives. A second-generation MOFGA member (her mom, Chellie, organized MOFGA's apprenticeship program), Pingree is a leader on issues dealing with toxic materials in the environment. She was the prime sponsor of this year's successful legislation to phase out the brominated flame retardant "deca." Pingree is one of 13 Maine citizens tested for toxic materials in their bodies by the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine. In her keynote speech at the 2007 Common Ground Country Fair, she talked about the study and changes needed to get toxic chemicals out of the environment and out of our food system.

Local Food from Local Fisheries
by Ted Ames
On Sunday, September 23, at MOFGA’s Common Ground Country Fair, Ted Ames discussed parallels between organic farming and community-based fisheries in his keynote address to fairgoers. Ames is helping to recreate community-based fisheries, starting with programs directed at lobster and cod, at the Penobscot East Resource Center in Stonington, Maine.

Body of Evidence: Toxics in Maine People
The first step in eliminating toxic chemicals from our bodies is knowing what’s there, and that was the goal of the “Body of Evidence” study conducted in 2007 by the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine. Study participants discussed results of the study at a MOFGA Public Policy Committee Teach-In at the Common Ground Country Fair.

Harvest Kitchen:
by Roberta Bailey
With softball-sized onions you have to put half of it in the fridge, then remember that it’s there. At last count there were three partial onions in my fridge; but who can really complain about onions that are too big? We should all have such problems. And if you do, here are some recipes that use at least one large onion or lots of garlic or a leek or two.

Organic Strawberry Production
by Eric Sideman, Ph.D.
As with any crop, producing strawberries organically entails a systems approach to the whole farm rather than just substituting approved organic materials for synthetic materials.

New Poultry Processing Co-op Licensed
by Diane Schivera
Cooperative Poultry Processors, COOPP, became a licensed, Maine State-Inspected poultry processing facility on October 15, 2007, and it plans to be certified-organic by MOFGA Certification Services LLC for the 2008 season.

The Long Road to Local School Lunches    
by Melissa White Pillsbury
The reason school food service programs don’t offer more fresh, appealing, tasty meals to children may shock you: The programs are not funded by school districts.


Roll Out the Rye • Socking It to Strawberry Root Rot • Garlic's Goodness Best Released With a Crush • Vitamin K for Bone Health • Disinfectants for Fruits and Vegetables • Planting Wheat Blends Means Higher Yields

Jean English: Fantastic Synergistic Fair and Milk You Can Trust
It took three days to walk and absorb the breadth of the Common Ground Fair and, as every year, I was struck with so many possibilities for growing and enjoying good food that the mental pot is still simmering.

Guest Editorial by Alison LePage: Eating Maine – Lessons and Rewards of an All-Maine Diet
If you asked me five years ago where my food came from, I probably couldn't even tell you what state it was grown in, much less the actual farm that produced it. But when my husband and I left "big city living" and moved to Maine in 2002, something changed in the way I looked at food. I realized that every plant and animal had a story and I wanted to know what it was.

Russell Libby: An Organic Maine
What is it? What would it look like?
I think about these questions often as I travel around the state. For every major issue that confronts us, there are approaches that tie us more deeply to the existing economic system, one that is in many ways at the root of the problems. There are also possibilities that would give us both more independence and a deeper sense of community.


Susan Barackman: What the USDA Does Not Say at NAIS Meetings
Tim Sullivan: Questions MOF&G Advertiser

Clicking on the link takes you to this issue's Reviews & Resources page, where you can read reviews of the following:

Not Far from the Tree
   by John Bunker
Farmer Pirates & Dancing Cows
   by Lynn R. Miller
 Rodale’s Vegetable Garden Problem Solver
   by Fern Marshall Bradley
The Weather Resilient Garden: A defensive approach to planning and landscaping
   by Charles W. G. Smith
Blue Ribbon USA: Prizewinning Recipes from State and County Fairs
   by John Margolies and Georgia Orcutt
   Featured Recipe: Adam Tomash’s New York Style Half-Sour Pickles

Books for the Holidays
A Mystic Garden – Working with Soil, Attending to Soul
   by Gunilla Norris
Sacred Land – Intuitive Gardening for Personal, Political & Environmental Change
   by Clea Danaan
Here if You Need Me, A True Story
   by Kate Braestrup
The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving
   by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard


Strategic Planning, Holiday Gifts, Dedicated Tree Program, Employment Opportunities, MOFGA/El Salvador Sistering Program, Building & Grounds Update

2007 Common Ground Country Fair News
Farewell to Fair Director Barbara Luce
Thank You Grace Keown
Common Kitchen 2007
Areas of the Fair: 2007 Awards & Winners

Volunteer Profile – Rosa Libby: Ready to Change (and Feed) the World

Board of Pesticides Control:
   Maine BPC Approves Genetically-Engineered Bt Corn