Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association




Bulletin Board

APRIL 26, 2013

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Logan Perkins, MOFGA's Right-to-Know GMO campaign coordinator, introduces speakers at the press conference on April 23, 2013.
The Right-to-Know GMO rally outside the Maine State House.
Members of the Legislature's Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry heard testimony from dozens of speakers who favor LD 718, An Act To Protect Maine Food Consumers' Right To Know about Genetically Engineered Food and Seed Stock.
Right-to-Know GMO Rally and Hearing Hugely Successful!

Tuesday's rally and public hearing in Augusta on LD 718, An Act To Protect Maine Food Consumers' Right To Know about Genetically Engineered Food and Seed Stock, were hugely successful for proponents of labeling GE foods. More than 200 people attended the rally, and almost 100 signed up to testify before the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (ACF) - which spent seven hours listening attentively and asking excellent questions.
Highlights of the hearing included Stephen Webster's story. Webster drove 13 hours, from his family farm in Blyth, Ontario, where he raises 400 acres of mostly identity preserved, non-GE soy for the Japanese market. He said that when his crop was contaminated by nearby GE soy, the Japanese would not buy it - a $15,000 loss for Webster's family. His 77-year-old father took Monsanto to small claims court, where, said Webster, Monsanto threatened to move the proceeding to Superior Court, which would force the Websters to spend $100,000 or more. Monsanto, Webster said, told his family they did not provide a big enough buffer strip; they had too many bees on their farm; that the farmer next door, growing GE soy, was responsible for compensating them for their losses; and that his father was lucky they were not suing him for using their genes without paying them a royalty.
Michael Hansen, senior staff scientist at Consumers Union, delivered powerful testimony about harmful health effects of GE crops from the limited long-term feeding studies done and noted the lack of safety testing in the United States, especially relative to other countries.
Bill sponsor Rep. Lance Harvell, R-Farmington said, "Markets work best when people have access to information." Senator Chris Johnson (D-Lincoln), the other primary sponsor, asked, "How many of you woke up today and said, 'Today I feel like being a lab rat for genetically engineered foods. I'd like my children to be part of the experiment, too.'" Labeling, he said, "is a risk management strategy for scientific uncertainty."
Dozens of others testified regarding the threats of GE foods to human and environmental health and to biodiversity and food security.
The ACF committee is expected to work on the bill in one or two work sessions over the next couple of weeks and then vote. The bill will then be sent to the full legislature for consideration.

To ensure that all members of the Legislature hear this message, MOFGA encourages people to contact their state representatives and senators (

Read more.

Our GMO-Right to Know Resources page on

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Buy your share of the Maine harvest!

Now is the time to sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share for the coming season.  Find farms near you offering CSA shares with MOFGA's Maine CSA Directory.

Income eligible seniors are entitled to a free $50 Senior Farm Share. More details available from the Get Real Maine website.

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Comment Period on Food Safety Regs Extended

The comment period for two proposed food safety regulations, originally set to close on May 16, has been extended to mid-September. Brian Snyder, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, writes about the vague wording in the bill in his April 22 blog, concluding, "What we really need is a system for achieving food safety that takes advantage of the most fundamental precautions that are inherent in nature, namely that we produce food without unnecessary adulterants, for consumption as close to its source as possible, with minimal handling, processing, storage and trucking. Beyond that, we also need to pay attention to the health of the environment within which food is being grown and consumers live." For more information, see and

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Horticultural Crops and Sales Tax Exemptions
State horticulturist Ann Gibbs says changes made during the last legislative session allow horticultural businesses to take advantage of sales tax exemptions on inputs and depreciable machinery/equipment, effective July 1, 2013. In the past these exemptions had been granted to other agricultural entities, but not businesses growing ornamental plants. This has changed, as the definition of commercial agriculture now includes all plants. The sales tax exemptions cover inputs; and depreciable machinery and equipment and electricity. Requirements differ depending on the exemptions. The law and the sales tax bulletins (14 and 45) that pertain to these sections are at The bulletins have not been updated by Maine Revenue Services yet, but the definition has changed, so simply follow the directions included in the bulletins.

1. Inputs - Complete an affidavit listing certain products from a specific vendor that are considered tax exempt and get details from Bulletin 14.

2. Depreciable machinery/equipment - Apply and obtain a certificate of exemption from Maine Revenue Service and a completed affidavit and get details from Bulletin 45.

Exemptions on tax on electricity apply when used in the commercial agricultural production, and there are some restrictions on items purchased with the exemption card.

For more information, contact Maine Revenue Service, Sales Tax Division, 207-624-9693 or

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Bracken fern, Pteridium aquilinum
Caution Recommended with Bracken Fern Fiddleheads

An article in the March-May issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener recommended eating various spring greens - including fiddleheads from bracken fern, Pteridium aquilinum. David Fuller, Agriculture and Non-Timber Forest Products Professional with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Farmington, advises against eating this fern due to carcinogens in the fronds. We have posted information on the inconclusive research on this subject with the original spring greens article in the online MOF&G.
"I guess the bottom line on the consumption of brackens," says Fuller, "is that they may pose a health risk (cancer) and as such should not be eaten. There are too many healthy alternatives." Lebelle Hicks, toxicologist with the Maine Board of Pesticides Control, agrees.
So you might want to stick to eating fiddleheads from the ostrich fern, Matteuccia struthiopteris - although UMaine Cooperative Extension recommends that with these, too, consumers take care, due to "a number of outbreaks of food borne illness associated with the consumption of raw or lightly cooked fiddleheads." More information.

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Common Ground Country Fair

MOFGA is now accepting applications for Presenters, Entertainers, and exhibitors in the Agricultural Demonstrations, Health & Healing, and Media areas at the Common Ground Country Fair. Links to presenter, entertainer and exhibitor applications and guidelines for participation in the Fair are all available online at Look for the "Areas" link to find the application for each area.

Interested in giving a presentation at the Fair? Please submit your proposal online via our Presenter Application.

The application deadline for Presenters and Agricultural Demonstrations, Health & Healing, and Media exhibitors is May 15th. The Entertainment deadline is May 31st. If you need assistance or have questions, please contact April at 568-4142 or

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Job Openings at MOFGA!

- Executive Director

- Volunteer Coordinator

- 2013 Fair Assistant
The Common Ground Country Fair is looking for a resourceful and creative individual to join our team this spring as the Fair Assistant for the 2013 Fair. If you have experience organizing live events, large gatherings, campaigns, or other endeavors featuring a grand culmination after months of planning and work; working with volunteers to accomplish a complex project; computer skills that include a friendly relationship with website content management, databases, Excel and Adobe InDesign; the willingness to learn new systems and programs; and the capacity to prioritize in a bustling workplace teeming with distractions, we would love to hear from you. To apply, submit a cover letter and resume in PDF format via email with the subject line "Fair Assistant Job Position" to Jim Ahearne at

Please see our Employment Opportunities page for full details.

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Resource Guide for Organic Insect and Disease Management

MOFGA's Country Store is now selling the second edition of the Resource Guide for Organic Insect and Disease Management. This popular book is a helpful aid for farmers, home gardeners, extension professionals and farm advisors looking for accurate information based on published research. MOFGA's own Crop Specialist, Eric Sideman, is a co-writer for this resource guide! Get your copy today for only $20!


Events in Maine and Beyond - Mark Your Calendar!

April 27 - Cancer Prevention and Treatment with Herbs and Whole Foods, with nurse practitioner and herbalist Kristina King. Saturday, 10 to noon, Avena Botanicals, Rockport, Maine. Part of the "Our Living Earth, Living Soul Series," four talks about herbs to honor and raise funds in memory of Russell Libby. The speakers are donating their time, and all proceeds go directly to the Russell Libby Memorial Fund. Classes are by donation only, with suggested donations of $5 to $500. Pre-registration is encouraged but not required. For information and registration call Avena Botanicals at 207-594-0694.

April 27 - MOFGA's Organic Orcharding Workshop: Orcharding 101. Co-sponsored by Cultivating Community and Portland Resilience Hub. $40 for members, $50 for non-members. Cape Elizabeth. Led by Michael Phillips, author of The Apple Grower, on organic pest control. Please bring a bag lunch, course will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Information.

April 27 - 19th Annual HOPE Festival. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Student Recreation & Fitness Center, University of Maine, Orono. Visit the MOFGA booth! Poster (PDF, 2.7 MB). Information.

Empty Bowl Supper
April 27 - 6 p.m., Belfast. Please join the MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee for its annual fundraiser - the Empty Bowl Supper - at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Miller Street in Belfast. Tickets are $15 at the door ($35 maximum for families). Get a beautiful, Maine-crafted bowl, fill it with delicious soup, and enjoy the company of about 100 MOFGA friends and supporters while listening to Tom Luther and Mike Whitehead of Algorithm play jazz, ambient and improvised music. We’ll have a brief update on Salvadorans' work to stop gold mining.

April 27 and 28 - Beekeeping Class at MOFGA.
8:30 am to 4:00 pm both days, MOFGA Common Ground Education Center, 294 Crosby Brook Road, Unity. Led by Christy Hemenway, author of The Thinking Beekeeper, A Guide to Natural Beekeeping in Top Bar Hives. Tuition $150 before April 15th, $175 thereafter. Organic/Natural/Local breakfast and lunch are included in tuition. Meet and greet and eat breakfast at 8:30 am each day. Class will run from 9am to noon. Lunch will go from noon to 1. Class resumes from 1 to 4. Information and registration.

April 28 - The Maine Food System. Monday, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Belfast Free Library, Abbott Room, 106 High St., Belfast. How local food councils expand the local economy, support our farmers, and put more healthy food on our plates. Speaker: Dr. Mark Lapping of the Maine Food Strategy. Learn more at Information from Ridgely Fuller at 508-333-6230 or

Sugarbush Maintenance and Improvement

May 2, MOFGA & Kinney's Sugarhouse

Join the Maine Forest Service and the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association's (MOFGA) Low Impact Forestry Project for a full day of presentations and site visits highlighting the silviculture and business of managing for maple syrup. Please contact Morten Moesswilde of the Maine Forest Service at 441-2895 or for more information. To register for the Sugarbush Management workshop on May 2, 2013 please go to You may also register by calling the Maine Forest Service at 207-287- 2791 or 1-800-367-0223.

MOFGA's Chainsaw Safety, Level I
May 4, Cambridge, Me., 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
May 19, Bethel, Me., 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Come join us May 4th in Cambridge, Maine, or May 19th in Bethel, Maine. This one-day course covers all the fundamentals of safe and effective chainsaw operation. Whether you are an aspiring logger, woodlot manager, or plan to use a chainsaw occasionally this course is invaluable. The chainsaw is an amazingly powerful tool, and without proper training and knowledge it can be a very dangerous tool. Work with our highly skilled instructors for the day and learn to use your chainsaw safely. Register at the online MOFGA Store.

May 28 - Conservation Farm Tour. 4 p.m., Goranson Farm, Dresden. View the farm's reduced tillage techniques and learn how to improve your soil health. RSVP to Katy Green:

June 8 - Spring Herb & Garden Day. Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm, McLane Audubon Center, Concord, N.H. 12 workshops including herbal product making, brewing herbal beer, organic heirloom gardening, permaculture for beginners, marketing, an All-Day Herbal Intensive, foraging walks and more! Registration.

2013 Poultry Processing Workshop

Wednesday, June 19, 9 am to 12 noon
MOFGA's Common Kitchen at the Common Ground Education Center, Unity
$30 - Limit: 20 participants
Register at MOFGA's Online Country Store
Join Diane Schivera, MOFGA Organic Livestock Specialist and an elite crew of poultry processing professionals for a workshop about how to process poultry. In this workshop you will be guided through a safe and humane process for turning live birds into oven ready roasters. We’ll discuss poultry management, equipment and food safety concerns. Please bring your favorite kitchen knife, an apron, and a willingness to learn. Each participant will take home a bird. Information: Email Diane Schivera or contact the MOFGA office - (207) 568-4142;

July 25 and 26 - 2013 Kneading Conference and 5th Artisan Bread Fair, Skowhegan, Maine. 30 workshops, talks, and panel discussions for everyone interested in local grains, craft breads, wood-fired ovens, and restoring regional grain networks. $300 includes (delicious!) meals. Information.

Low Impact Forestry Level II, Draft Animal Logging
July 26-28, Bethel, Me.

This 3-day workshop builds on the skills that students developed in the Level I Draft Power Logging Workshop. Students are expected to have completed LIF's Level I course, or be able to demonstrate equivalent experience. Register at the online MOFGA Store.

Many other events are posted on MOFGA's on-line Calendar.


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