MOFGA’s FARM TRAINING PROJECT
May - September 2017
Designed to augment the on-farm learning of the farm apprenticeship program, MOFGA’s Farm Training Project (FTP) workshops follow an informal format, usually beginning with a farm tour followed by a presentation on the topic of the day. Participants are invited to stay for a potluck supper – bring a dish or something fresh from the farm to share (please bring your own place setting as well). All events are held rain or shine and are free and open to the public. For more information or directions to any of the workshops, call 568-6018, email email@example.com or check this webpage.
ORGANIC FARMING: PRINCIPLES & PRACTICES
WEDNESDAY, MAY 17 and THURSDAY, MAY 18 at MOFGA's Common Ground Education Center
Free for MOFGA apprentices! Registration required. REGISTER HERE
Join Eric Sideman, Dave Colson, Diane Schivera, and Rick Kersbergen for a two-day introductory course to organic farming. Register for either or both days, lunch will be provided. Day one with Eric, organic crop specialist, and Dave, agricultural services director, will cover the fundamentals of organic vegetable farming. Eric and Dave will cover soils, pests and diseases, and weeds. Day two with Diane, organic livestock specialist, Rick Kersbergen, University of Maine Extension, and a panel of livestock farmers will cover the fundamentals of organic livestock husbandry, production systems and pasture management.
INTRODUCTION TO FARM EQUIPMENT: SAFETY, OPERATION, AND BASIC MAINTENANCE
Wednesday, May 24 – 5pm at Crystal Spring Farm, Brunswick
Join farmer Seth Kroeck, staff from MOFGA, and University of Maine Cooperative Extension Professional Jason Lilley for an introduction to basic farm equipment anatomy, safe operation, and maintenance. We’ll cover tractor operation and safety; attaching, adjusting, and operating farm implements; and basic preventative lubrication and maintenance. No potluck this week.
2017! COMMUNICATION KICK-OFF! POTLUCK! SOCIAL!
Wednesday, May 31 – 5pm at Villageside Farm, Freedom
Join Polly and Prentice at Villageside Farm for a social gathering to kick off the FTP season. You’ll learn about communication skills that will improve your experience as an apprentice this season and give an overview of MOFGA’s Apprenticeship Program, opportunities and support resources available to apprentices and new farmers, and what to expect for the season ahead. Most importantly, it’s a great chance to start meeting apprentices from other farms across the state. We look forward to seeing you there! Potluck to follow.
Monday, June 5 – 5pm at Springtide Farm, Bremen
Goats are a great livestock choice for much of the rocky, forested land in Maine. Farmers Wendy Pieh and Peter Goth will discuss raising North American Cashmere goats for premium fiber, processed into roving and yarn that is hand dyed. Potluck to follow.
Wednesday, June 14 – 6pm at Dooryard Farm, Camden
Farmer Cooper Funk and Mark Hutchinson of Knox-Lincoln Cooperative Extension will discuss types of cover crops, pros and cons of each and programs to help with crop rotation on your farm. Potluck to follow. Co-sponsored by Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Knox-Lincoln Soil & Water Conservation District (rain date June 15).
ORGANIC LIVESTOCK MANAGEMENT
Wednesday, June 21 – 5pm at Milkhouse Farm, Monmouth
Caitlin Frame and Andy Smith raise a MOFGA certified organic dairy herd, laying hens and pigs. At the Milkhouse, animals graze 24/7 in the growing season (as weather and regrowth allow), utilizing rotational grazing methods to increase soil fertility, maximize yields from the land, and manage fly and other pest pressure on the herd. We'll discuss how different age groups of cows can be used in different areas of the farm depending on the specific needs of the land, how we use pigs to renovate pastures, and where chickens come into play on our farm. We'll also discuss our plans for summer silvopasture for cows and pigs. Come learn how we make our system work! Potluck to follow.
Date Change: TRACTOR-SCALE WEED MANAGEMENT
Tuesday, June 27 – 5pm at Goranson Farm, Dresden
Weed control is a primary challenge in organic farming systems. This workshop will offer ecological and cultural approaches to weed management with University of Maine Cooperative Extension professional Jason Lilley, University of Maine professor Eric Gallandt, and farmer expertise from Carl Goranson. Potluck to follow.
Wednesday, June 28 – 5pm at Maine Cap N’ Stem, Gardiner
Maine Cap N' Stem is a certified organic mushroom substrate producer opening its farm doors to a one night workshop that aims to introduce MOFGA members to the practical application of farming fungi. The workshop will cover the basics of commercial mushroom cultivation with a walk-through tour of Maine Cap N’ Stem's substrate production facility. We will then talk about what it takes to set up a semi-automated fruiting room for year-round fresh mushroom production. The workshop aims to help traditional farms gain all the information necessary to start fruiting shiitake, lion’s mane, oyster and chestnut mushrooms in a matter of weeks to diversify their market offerings by using our ready-to-fruit substrate. Potluck to follow.
Thursday, July 6 – 5pm at Avena Botanicals, Rockport
Join herbalist and biodynamic herb gardener Deb Soule for an informative walk through Avena Botanicals medicinal herb gardens. Deb and a crew of three gardeners collect over 1800 pounds of medicinal herbs by hand each year from 2-1/2 acres. These herbs are then immediately processed on-site into a variety of tinctures, teas, oils and salves. Avena is the first Demeter-certified biodynamic farm in Maine and Deb will include an introduction to biodynamics as part of this tour. Potluck to follow.
NEW TOOLS FOR NEW FARMERS - MARKETING AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Wednesday, July 12 – 5pm at Home Sweet Homestead, Waldoboro
Come for a lively discussion hosted by homesteader, ceramicist and social media maven Julie Letowski (@homesweethomestead), known and loved both near and far for the visually arresting, straight-talking, intimate aesthetic of her online persona that gracefully threads the boundary between sharing self and selling stuff. Abby Lyden and Jeffrey Knox of Dharma Farm in Washington (@dharmafarm), will also be on hand to join the conversation about the opportunities, challenges and techniques for constructively harnessing the power of social networks. Bring your thoughts on navigating the power and pitfalls of new media tools, online commerce, privacy and authenticity. Smartphones, handles and hashtags welcome. Potluck to follow.
HIGH TUNNEL CONSTRUCTION
Thursday, July 20 – 5pm at Farmer Kev's Organics, West Gardiner
You likely will gain experience growing crops in high tunnels during an apprenticeship in Maine, but do you know how to construct one when it comes time to start your own farm? Learn about design selection, site preparation, and construction of high tunnels with farmer Kevin Leavitt. Potluck to follow.
ECOLOGICAL PEST MANAGEMENT
Tuesday, August 1 – 5pm at Whatley Farm, Topsham
Effective ecological pest control starts with a farm system design based on the fundamental principles of diversity and complexity. Join Dave Colson, MOFGA’s agricultural services director, and farmer Ben Whatley for a comprehensive perspective on managing pests in organic vegetable systems. Potluck to follow.
Wednesday, August 9 – 5pm at Hope's Edge Farm, Hope
Biodynamics is a mystical, holistic approach to agriculture that has something to offer every farmer and gardener. Join host Tom Griffin for an introduction to the biodynamic approach, and see how he incorporates it into his operation. Potluck to follow.
FARMING WITH HORSES
Wednesday, August 16 – 5pm at New Beat Farm, Knox
Using animals for draft power has a number of economic, environmental and social benefits; but it is not easy. New Beat Farm relies on draft power for all aspects of its operation - from tillage to haying to woods work. Come learn the basics of this genuinely solar-based system of farming. Potluck to follow.
SEED SAVING AND PRODUCTION ON A DIVERSIFIED FARM
Wednesday, August 23 – 5pm at Seven Tree Farm, Vassalboro
Roberta Bailey of Fedco Seeds operates Seven Tree Farm, 18 acres with six field plots, a high tunnel, an orchard and grape arbor, and extensive fruit and berry plantings. The farm also includes a many post and beam buildings and a root cellar. Roberta focuses on growing much of the food for herself and her partner, Rob Lemire, and on raising commercial seed crops on a small-farm scale. Seed crops can work well with field production gardens, further diversifying farm income and securing seed supply in some situations. The talk will focus on interplanting seed crops in gardens or field plots, using the byproducts of the crop for food production or value-added products to sell, and on basic seed saving and plant genetics, crop nutrition, rotations, isolations, and how to harvest and dry seed. The talk will cover biennials such as beets and carrots as well. Potluck to follow.
FARM WOODLOT MANAGEMENT
Wednesday, August 30 – 5pm at Hidden Valley Nature Center, Jefferson
Woodlots are a ubiquitous and essential part of farms in Maine. Whether the forest provides a heat source for your home and greenhouse, vital habitat for pollinators, foraging potential for livestock, maple syrup, or lumber for your buildings it must be managed with skill and vision. Hidden Valley Nature Center manages 1,000+ acres of forest for diverse purposes. Tour a portion of its activity with HVNC director Andy Bezon. This workshop will emphasize the need for creativity at the intersection of field and forest, as well as innovative tools, equipment and processes. HVNC collaborates with MOFGA's Low Impact Forestry Project and aims to promote the thoughtful and sustainable inclusion of forests into the future of farms in Maine. HVNC was named the 2014 Outstanding Tree Farm in Maine. Potluck to follow.
Wednesday, September 6 – 5pm at Toddy Pond Farm, Monroe
In recent decades, many small dairy farms have had to “get big or get out” as the rising cost of operating a small scale, pasture-based dairy has grown beyond economic sustainability. In order to become profitable, many producers have gotten creative - by diversification, value-added production and innovative marketing strategies. Toddy Pond Farm is a small, diversified, family-run dairy operation of grass-fed Jersey and Guernsey cows in Monroe. See how farmers Greg and Heidi Purinton-Brown have designed the business model of the farm to ensure long-term economic sustainability. They produce yogurt, kefir, cheese and ice cream, along with honey, sheep, guinea hogs, meat chickens and eggs. Learn about their marketing strategies for this diversified operation and how the different aspects of the farm complement each other. Potluck to follow.
NEXT STEPS: APPRENTICE TO JOURNEYPERSON
Wednesday, September 13 – 5pm at Old Wells Farm, Limington
MOFGA estimates that Maine needs about 150 new farmers each year just to maintain the infrastructure required to support our local food system – so every new farm operation in Maine is a reason to celebrate! But getting started in farming is becoming increasingly difficult in many ways. Join Dylan and Alaena, along with several of MOFGA’s current journeypersons, as they share their insights and enthusiasm about how they are managing their first few years farming independently. Several key service providers will also discuss how their programs can help. If you are considering farming for a living, please come and contribute to this important discussion. Potluck to follow.
Common Ground Country Fair
Friday, September 22 to Sunday, September 24
MOFGA's Common Ground Education Center, Unity
If you've ever been to the Fair, you know — and if you haven't been, anyone who has will tell you — it's an event like no other, that brings together so many people from so many walks of life, all in the spirit of celebrating the rural and agricultural traditions of Maine. Volunteer shifts of four hours or more gain free one-day admission, a meal, one night of camping and a Fair T-shirt.