Feature Stories From The Archives​

Learn more about the MOFGA community and Common Ground Country Fair

a man in a white tshirt, shorts and orange shoes stands in a farm field with a woman in a pink and red shirt; she holds a baby and young girl in a floral dress leans against her leg

Making Decisions at Moodytown Gardens

By Sonja Heyck-Merlin A farm is the sum of decisions. Long-term strategic and on-the-fly decisions. Decisions that induce arguments and ones requiring risk. They can be based on emotion. And some decisions are rooted in childhood experiences — as is the case with the owners of Moodytown Gardens in Palmyra, Maine. Johanna Burdet, or Jo

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two farmers stand behind a large metal still used for distilling

Making Essential Oil from Logging Slash

The Essencers capture the aromas of Maine with a mobile still By Danielle Walczak Snow fell in Stockton Springs while Brent Holiday fired up a chainsaw. It was January and the wind, characteristic of Midcoast Maine, shook the greenhouse next to the white pine he would cut down. With the pine gone, in a few

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Three bright pink and violet speckled bean seeds in a split green pod

“Seed”

What follows is a collection of stories from MOFGA members, staff, volunteers and the community in response to the theme: “seed.” These stories first appeared in MOFGA Stories segment in spring 2022 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. I was born and raised in what was referred to as Spanish Harlem in New

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September — Preserving

By Dani Walczak Each year since I started farming I pack my bike panniers like Christmas stockings and head north to Unity for the Common Ground Country Fair with Ali. On Friday after work, we meet in the Park-and-Ride of I-95 at the Augusta Mall. We head Northeast on our bikes. Stumbling through parking lots,

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“Feast”

What follows is a collection of stories from MOFGA members, staff, volunteers and the community in response to the theme: “feast” These stories first appeared in MOFGA Stories segment in winter 2021-2022 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. Autumn leaves swirled about our steel toes and the crisp wind kissed the bare skin

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Buckwheat in flower

“First Frost”

What follows is a collection of stories from MOFGA members, staff, volunteers and the community in response to the theme: “first frost.” These stories first appeared in MOFGA Stories segment in fall 2021 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. We scrambled among the rambling, leafy vines, crating squash as fast as we could

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Farm field

“Neighbors”

What follows is a collection of stories from MOFGA members, staff, volunteers and the community in response to the theme: “neighbors.” These stories first appeared in MOFGA Stories segment in summer 2021 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. We are all neighbors, whether we live next door to each other or 5 miles

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Soil cupped in hands

“Breaking Ground”

What follows is a collection of stories from MOFGA members, staff, volunteers and the community in response to the theme: “breaking ground.” These stories first appeared in MOFGA Stories segment in spring 2021 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. We bought the land in 2012: a 9-acre field, once sheep and cow pasture,

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Fair 2014 Kami Pendleton

“The Fair”

Readers submitted the following stories in response to the theme “The Fair.” They appeared in appeared in the 2020-2021 winter issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. My favorite memory of the Fair is not so much a specific incident but rather a feeling. It’s a rhythmic sense of contentment and connectedness that washes

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Brown and white cows on pasture

Ripples in the Milk Pail

By Jacki Martinez Perkins The recent news that Danone, owner of Horizon Organic, has made the decision to withdraw from the Northeast, to focus on sourcing their fluid milk from larger producers in the West, has the potential to shake the moorings of Maine agriculture. Our beautiful and rural state holds the potential to provide

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Greenhouse with sunflowers in foreground

Farm to Table Kids Builds Strong Connections with Nature

By Pete Salmansohn On a sunny mid-June morning a group of young children, under the guidance of farmer Stephanie McDonough, are exploring the world of radishes. “They seem to love pulling them out of the ground more than they like eating them,” she says. “But that’s ok. I call it ‘harvest therapy’ … getting their

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Wedges of blue cheese

Maine Milk Mavens Model Creative Approach to Local Cheese Distribution

by Tim King Maine Milk Mavens, of Whitefield, Maine, has expanded rapidly since its founding in March 2020. Prior to then Jessie Dowling and her crew were milking goats and sheep at Fuzzy Udder Creamery, also in Whitefield, and selling milk, cheese and related products through farmers’ markets, restaurants, grocery stores and specialty shops throughout

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Bison on green pasture

Flying Boat Farm Brings Organic Bison to Maine

By Sonja Heyck-Merlin “We can’t get close enough to see the calves,” says Keith Radonis. “We use binoculars to investigate, and we think it’s two females and a male, but we’re not sure.” Scientifically speaking, these calves — the first to be born at Flying Boat Farm in Whitefield, Maine — are bison, not buffalo.

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Amy Bigelow “First Frost”

This story appeared in the 2021 fall issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener in response to the theme “first frost.” Transferring to a new high school brings a world of new traditions, opportunities and experiences. My move from a rural public high school in New Hampshire to the Maine School of Science and

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Benton farmhouse covered in snow

Dwight Gagnon “First Frost”

This story appeared in the 2021 fall issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener in response to the theme “first frost.” In the fall of 1969, I was 14 and my family had moved to my great-grandfather’s abandoned homestead in Benton, Maine. It was supposed to be temporary. My family had come here after

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Sunflowers at fairgrounds

Jack Kertesz “First Frost”

This story appeared in the 2021 fall issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener in response to the theme “first frost.” Frost, you say? Probably one of my least favorite aspects of fall is this landscape-altering feature. Over the years of gardening on MOFGA’s fairgrounds, I have learned to associate the approach of the

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Buckwheat in flower

Audrey Zimmerman “First Frost”

This story appeared in the 2021 fall issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener in response to the theme “first frost.” Back in the late 1980s, we had our eyes on a piece of land in southern Aroostook County and our dreams set for gardening and farming there. But we had never lived much

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Frost pattern on window

Nancy Galland “First Frost”

This story appeared in the 2021 fall issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener in response to the theme “first frost.” We scrambled among the rambling, leafy vines, crating squash as fast as we could and trucked it to the tractor shed for storage. We piled the 50-pound crates, totaling about a ton, full

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Emily Springer of Meeting House Farm with Brenna Mae of Patch Farm

Emily Springer “Neighbors”

This story appeared in the 2021 summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener in response to the theme “Neighbors.” It was a sunny day last July when I was contacted by Kathi from Herbal Revolution, an apothecary and farm in Union, to see if I had any extra blue vervain on hand. I

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Favorita cherry tomatoes

Paul Lynn “Neighbors”

This story appeared in the 2021 summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener in response to the theme “Neighbors.” One thing about old-time Maine Yankees is that they tend to be economical with their words and habitually choose the fewest ones to convey an exact meaning. If you ask them a question, they

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raised bed garden with mesh fence

Peter Chapman “Neighbors”

This story appeared in the 2021 summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener in response to the theme “Neighbors.” I never really thought that much about groundhogs. I’d watched the Bill Murray movie, of course, seen one or two groundhogs ambling across our backyard, and passed a few of them on the road

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Smudge pot

Audrey Zimmerman “Neighbors”

This story appeared in the 2021 summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener in response to the theme “Neighbors.” It was black fly season. To keep the flies away while working in the garden, my husband and I would build a fire in our smudge pot and then throw green plant matter on

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Blueberries

Doug Van Horn “Neighbors”

This story appeared in the 2021 summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener in response to the theme “Neighbors.” I moved to Twitchell Hill Community in 1976. It was started by folks who were tired of being beaten up in the anti-war protests in the Boston area. They wanted to establish an intentional

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illustration of dragonfly and blackbird

Catherine Haase “Neighbors”

This story appeared in the 2021 summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener in response to the theme “Neighbors.” Often when people think about neighbors, they think about the humans that live in the houses down the street. But as a wildlife biologist, I think about the wildlife neighbors that we have in

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