Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener – Winter 2017-2018

Publications \ The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener \ Winter 2017-2018


The Rusted Rooster Farm family.
Lily Piel photo


Joyce White’s mother in a field of buckwheat

Kitchen herbs: cabbage, garlic, rosemary, sage and thyme

Organic Matter – Food and Agricultural News – Winter 2017

Sean O’Donnell of Rusted Rooster: Born to Farm
By Sonja Heyck-Merlin 
“I was born with a green thumb,” says farmer Sean O’Donnell, 28, of MOFGA-certified organic Rusted Rooster Farm in Piscataquis County. “As much as we tried to clean it up, it just wouldn’t come clean.” 
O’Donnell’s grandfather was a potato farmer in Houlton, and although the farm became inactive before Sean was old enough to be involved, he has fond memories of the land, especially the tractors. Picture him as a toddler, captivated by the clamber and power of his grandfather’s equipment, and then as a child, trying to convince his parents that, surely, he was old enough to drive a tractor. “I have just always liked farming,” O’Donnell explains. 

Yacon – An Exciting ‘Root’ Crop from the Andes
By Will Bonsall
Years ago in conversations with my Peruvian sister-in-law, I learned about many traditional foods she grew up eating that were not readily found in the United States – things like oca, mashua, ulluco, quinoa, chuño (freeze-dried bitter potatoes), nuñas (popping beans), yacon, etc. Some of them are difficult or impossible to grow here, either because our season is too short and cool or because of “daylength sensitivity” (photoperiodism), which prevents some species from forming tubers, bulbs, fruits, etc., in our long, cool summer days. I had assumed that yacon was among those – one doesn't hear much about it in northern gardens – until I heard from my friend Larry Forbes and others in the Fryeburg area who were growing it without greenhouses or other season extenders. Fryeburg is no more of a banana belt than where I live in Industry, so I had to give it a try.

Buckwheat for Food, Medicine and Soil
By Joyce White
When a neighbor extolled the health benefits of buckwheat, I began to wonder why its seed is not more important in present-day diets – especially given its long history of use.
The wild ancestor of buckwheat came from the Yunnan Province of China. It was domesticated there and cultivated in inland Southeast Asia, possibly around 6,000 BCE. It then spread across Asia, the Middle East and Europe, reached Finland in 5,300 BCE, and was one of the first crops brought by Europeans to North America.

Kitchen Herbs as Medicine
By Roberta Bailey
As farmers, gardeners and overly busy people, we barely make time to feed ourselves well, let alone truly nourish and support our bodies. Our lives are a constant juggle of making time, using time and taking time. Some goals are just out of our reach. Self-care is often one of them. It took me 30 years to start to make herbal tinctures and oils. Not there yet? Take heart, the herbs in your everyday fare are nourishing you and supporting the health of your body.

2017 Common Ground Country Fair Keynotes

Jill Agnew: Community Supported Agriculture
Looking Back, Looking Forward, A 40-year Story

The first CSA in Maine started in 1989 at Willow Pond Farm in Sabattus. This was a new concept for many, but drawing on the age-old strength of community, Willow Pond Farm has integrated into the social and economic structure of an area from Portland to Augusta. Jill and Charlie Agnew have farmed in Sabattus since 1982, raising a family and operating a small, diversified farm and orchard. This has included training over 90 apprentices and growing organic vegetables and small fruits, pastured pigs, chickens, turkeys, lamb and value-added products for over 120 households a year. Jill’s September 22, 2017, keynote speech at the Common Ground Country Fair covered four themes related to her farm: inspiration, passion, commitment and support.

Sherri Mitchell: Standing on Indigenous Rights
Born and raised on the Penobscot Indian reservation, of the Bear Clan from the Penobscot Nation and Crow Clan from the Passamaquoddy Tribe, Sherri Mitchell is an indigenous rights attorney, teacher and spiritual activist. She has won numerous awards, including, in 2015, the Spirit of Maine Award for commitment and excellence in the field of international human rights. In 2016 Robert Shetterly added her portrait to his esteemed series “Americans Who Tell the Truth.” She is now an advisor to the Indigenous Elders and Medicine People’s Council of North and South America, and she is the founding director of the Land Peace Foundation, which is dedicated to global protection of indigenous rights and preservation of the indigenous way of life.

Jonathan Rosenthal: From Local to System and Rural to Urban: Building a New Economy
During his keynote speech at MOFGA’s Common Ground Country Fair on September 24, 2017, Jonathan Rosenthal, executive director of the New Economy Coalition, talked about the interconnectedness of our many different struggles for justice and highlighted solutions that fundamentally transform our economy, culture and politics. Rosenthal has spent over 30 years working to transform the power of business from a destructive force of accumulation into a healing force honoring the interconnectedness of all people and our earth. He co-founded Equal Exchange, a pioneering fair trade company that is now the second largest worker-owned cooperative in the United States, as well as Oké USA and Belmont-Watertown Local First.

2017 Common Ground Country Fair Public Policy Teach-In

Making America Green Again: A Workshop in Resistance
The Trump administration and its allies are pursuing the most aggressive environmental rollbacks in U.S. history. Attacks on federal laws that protect our climate, public lands, air and water as well as attacks on the agencies that administer these laws could set us back decades. These threats, if implemented, would cause serious harm nationwide and would be particularly damaging for states such as Maine, where our environment and economy are tightly intertwined. How can Mainers fight back? At the 2017 teach-in organized by MOFGA’s Public Policy Committee and moderated by Nancy Ross at the Common Ground Country Fair, three experts offered solutions.

Native Pollination Works: Looking at Pollination from a New and Old Perspective
By Gail J. VanWart
My husband, Daniel, and I steward an organic wild blueberry farm in Dedham, Maine. It’s been in the family for 149 years but has recently taken on the additional function of serving as a native pollinator sanctuary. As soon as we tell people about the farm, they ask how many hives we have or if we sell honey. Then we try to explain the difference between honeybees “from away” and our native bumblebees and other pollinating insects that are natural inhabitants of our environment – including bees that don’t even resemble a bee at all. To add to the fun, we point out that some native pollinators aren’t even bees. They include moths, butterflies, ants, bats, birds and various types of flies. All of our native pollinators, however, have three things in common: They are wild; they exist where nature intended for them to live; and they provide free labor for the farmer.

Leek Moth and New Plant Diseases Target Maine Garlic
By Dave Fuller, Agriculture and Non-Timber Forest Products Professional, UMaine Cooperative Extension, Franklin County
Leek moth (Acrolepiopsis assectella Zeller), a very destructive pest of all of the Allium genus, was first found in Jackman, Maine, in the larval stage by the author on garlic plants at the Forest Hills Consolidated School garden on May 29, 2017. 

The Farmall Cub
By Ben Hoffman
To me, the most versatile, useful, practical farm machine ever made was the Farmall Cub.  Introduced in 1947 to replace horses and mules on small farms, about 245,000 Cubs were produced from 1947 until 1979. The tractor featured a 4-cylinder, 9.25 horsepower gasoline engine, gradually increased to about 15 horsepower. A nice feature of the tractor was “cultivision,” offsetting the engine to the left so that the operator could look right down the row being worked.

MOFGA Certification – Numbers, Trends and Expectations
By Chris Grigsby, Director, MOFGA Certification Services LLC
2017 has been a steady year for MOFGA Certification Services (MCS), with solid growth in certification applicants and many changes to our internal processing systems. As we near the close of the calendar year, we take a look at the Maine certified agricultural landscape as it stands now, as well as trends and expectations for the coming year and beyond.

Harvest Kitchen: Hot Ferments
By Roberta Bailey
Kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, fermented vegetables, kefir, yogurt, sour beers and ciders – live probiotic ferments are all the rage these days. Add hot sauces to that list as well. 
As a condiment lover and, particularly, a fan of hot peppers, I am excited. I love the full pepper flavor that is not masked by vinegar. I have been experimenting with fermenting finished sauces and with fermenting combinations of ingredients for future blends.

Maine Organic Livestock Farmer Leads Way To Reduce Food Waste in Maine
By Heather Omand
MOFGA Organic Marketing and Business Coordinator
The tourism industry brings billions of dollars into Maine, but that is not the industry’s only impact. The hospitality industry, a close compatriot to the tourism industry, generates a substantial amount of food waste. And nationally, approximately 30 to 40 percent of our total food supply is wasted. In response to that issue, the United States has committed to halving food waste by 2030. To MOFGA-certified organic farmers Dean and Deborah Richmond of Pleasant River Farms in Mason Township, the whole situation smelled like a ripe opportunity.

Notes from the Maine Heritage Orchard
By John Bunker
In the autumn of 1852, a farmer named N.T. True of Bethel, Maine, packed up and headed for the Oxford County Agricultural Society fall fruit show, bringing along five specimens of an apple known as Bethel Belle. True set the apples on a plate for everyone to see and taste. Another farmer, James Grover, also of Bethel, brought along Jine Sweet. Perhaps they drove over together in the same wagon. Orison Ripley of Paris, Maine, brought six apple varieties, including Craft’s, Dr. Brooks, Sheepnage, Spear Sweet, Striped Sweet and Squash. John Robinson of Greenwood brought Belnap Sweet, Fall, French Sweet, Georgiana and Roxbury Sweet. We can guess that this made for a great way to spend a fall day in Maine.

Two Emerging Fruit Pests
By C.J. Walke
Winter moth (Operophtera brumata) is becoming a common pest along the coast of Maine and in southern Maine areas, according to comments I hear from growers, and it appears to be growing in importance for blueberry, apple and pear growers in southeastern New England according to reports from Cornell University and UMass.

Low Impact Forestry (LIF) Helps Woodlot Owners Save the Environment
By Denny Gallaudet
At Millbrook Farm in Cumberland, we have a mix of activities, including raising vegetables, sheep and chickens, supported by pasture and hayfields and a 25-acre woodlot. Over the years the woodlot, which is enrolled in the Maine Tree Growth Tax Program, has provided firewood for home use and periodic harvests of saw timber. With the specter of climate change looming large, we have studied our farm activities with an eye toward reducing our carbon footprint and ultimately getting to net zero. Thus in our most recent tree growth program update, we asked the forester to include a carbon sequestration analysis with our management plan.

Improving Ground Cherry Harvest
Controlling Invasive Bamboo

IRA Charitable Rollover – Your Retirement Distribution
By Chris Hamilton, MOFGA Associate Director
Many of us have spent years setting aside funds in retirement accounts. We can use these funds to support our retirement AND to support worthy causes such as MOFGA. One simple way is to list MOFGA as a beneficiary of retirement funds. Upon your death, MOFGA will receive the percentage of the funds you have specified.

Regarding Organic Check-off Editorial


Nourishing Cycles and Spirals
By Jean English
I am thinking of cycles and spirals during these Persephone months, as Eliot Coleman calls them. MOFGA’s Common Ground Country Fair had, once again, abundant participation, with hundreds of talks and workshops emphasizing the value of nourishing body, soul and soil, and by extension, our communities. The Great Maine Apple Day at MOFGA continued a tradition that dates back 165 years to the fall fruit show at the Oxford County Agricultural Society, as John Bunker explains in this issue of The MOF&G. Our dozens of educational events come to a close in December with yet another kitchen licensing workshop and the New England Vegetable & Fruit Conference (the latter held in New Hampshire and cosponsored by MOFGA).

Preserving Organic Integrity Is Crucial
By Ted Quaday, MOFGA Executive Director
Storm clouds are gathering over the USDA Certified Organic seal. A series of Washington Post articles last summer drew attention to problems with certification of a large-scale dairy operation in Colorado and questioned the validity of organic certification of grain imported from Eastern Europe. At the same time, the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), took aim at the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and the USDA National Organic Program (NOP).

Reviews & Resources
Reinventing the Wheel
The Lost Kitchen – Recipes and a Good Life Found in Freedom, Maine
Northeast Organic Vegetable Profitability Study
Abrasive Weeding: A New Tool for Weed Management in Organic Agriculture

Proposed Recommendation for Bylaws Changes in 2018

Staff Profile
Jennifer Morton, Administrative Assistant

Staff Changes at MOFGA
Jacki Perkins
Kristen Farrell
Andrew Graham
Anna Libby
Michele McCarthy

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree

Dennis King
Frederick M. Davis Sr.
Robert Cullen Stuart
Genio Bertin, Sara Faull
Herbert William Sam Birch

IRA Charitable Rollover – Your Retirement Distribution

Volunteer Profile
Lisa LeBel

Common Ground Country Fair

• A Common Ground Country Fair Thank You

• Another Fine Year for Fiber at Common Ground!

• Common Ground Country Fair Ribbons and Awards 2017