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"Perhaps the most radical thing you can do in our time is to start turning over the soil, loosening it up for the crops to settle in, and then stay home and tend them."
- Rebecca Solnit
 

  You are here:  PublicationsMaine Organic Farmer & GardenerFall 2007MOFGA Notes Fall 07   
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MOFGA to Host “Tastings” Dinner
Nose to Tail Pork Processing Workshop
Low-Impact Forestry Workshop
Search Engine Helps MOFGA Raise Funds
Want to Make Costumes?
Board of Pesticides Control Convenes Stakeholders’ Meetings On Drift
Maine Legislature Supports Deca Phase-out
Body of Evidence: A Study of Pollution in Maine People
MOFGA Directors Consider Fair Trade
Potatoes to Plastics
Educational Programs Assistant News
Thank You Tent Sponsors!



Friday, September 14

MOFGA to Host “Tastings” Dinner at Festival of Maine Foods in Camden

MOFGA, in association with Maine Fare, will present its 4th Annual “Tastings” dinner on Friday, September 14, at 6 p.m. at the Waterfalls Conference Center in the Knox Mill complex in Camden. “Tastings” will feature Maine chefs who regularly celebrate the bounty of Maine agriculture and native fisheries by offering Maine food on their menus.

In 2006 the Maine Legislature updated Maine’s Food Policy for the first time since 1986, when it was created. One new initiative is  for Maine to grow at least 80% of the food its population eats by 2020; currently the state produces about 20% of the food its citizens consume. At “Tastings,” chefs will demonstrate how good our meals can taste when every dish features at least 80% Maine-grown products.

This year “Tastings” chefs will include Melissa Ettinger of Valerie Jean’s in Milo; Maureen Fauske of Flour Power in Topsham; Tom Gutow of the Castine Inn; Rich Hansen of Cleonice in Ellsworth; Melissa Kelly and Price Kushner of Primo in Rockland; Leslie Oster and Salvator Talerico of Aurora Provisions in Portland; Dean Zaloumis of Sweet Fern Farm and Mother Oven in Bowdoinham; and a cheese plate from the Maine Cheese Guild.

“Tastings” is a relaxed event in a beautiful setting where the whole family can sample small dishes of different takes on the cornucopia of Maine ingredients available fresh from the farm or  boat, as well as the finest beverages from Maine’s orchards, cider houses, vineyards and brewers. Guests will be able to talk to chefs about their dishes, and to many fishermen, food producers and MOFGA farmers who were responsible for ingredients at the dinner.

“Tastings” will kick off Maine Fare in Camden, a weekend-long celebration of Maine food and cooking that features farm and vineyard tours, hands-on cooking seminars and demonstrations with some of Maine’s top chefs, special dinners at restaurants in and around Camden, and an exciting Marketplace of food from all over the state.

Tickets for “Tastings” are available through Maine Fare at (800) 854-5952 or www.mainefare.com. The price for adults is $60 for MOFGA members; $75 for nonmembers.

Click here for more information about MOFGA "Tastings"



Saturday to Monday, October 6 to 8
Nose to Tail Pork Processing Workshop
MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center
Click here for more information

Sustainable agriculture doesn’t end at harvest; efficient use of every crop component is important. This hands-on workshop will demonstrate how to get the most and the best from an organic, pasture-raised pig, from slaughter to sausage.

The workshop will cover basic humane slaughter, carcass preparation, breakdown of major components, and sanitary fresh and preservative processing using the entire animal, following chef Fergus Henderson’s notion that “it would be disingenuous to the animal not to make the most of the whole beast; there is a set of delights, textural and flavoursome, which lie beyond the fillet.”

Along with hands-on demonstrations, the workshop will address hog husbandry, state regulations on meat slaughter and processing, recipes for fresh and preserved meat, and the history and tradition of putting up meat for winter.  We’ll also taste finished products.

On day one, Matthew Heintz, Eric Rector and Clayton Carter will cover a history of the animal, hog husbandry and feeding, humane slaughter, and efficient preparation of the carcass for processing. After showing how to create a clean carcass, we’ll have a traditional butcher’s picnic, serving primal parts of the butchered pig to thank the workers and the animal.

On day two, we’ll break the cooled carcass into shoulder, loin, bacon and hams. Each will be considered for its properties, and we will demonstrate storage and preparation of cuts, including salting and smoking. Rector and Carter will lead this section.

On day three, we will process cuts into fresh and preserved products, including sausage (fresh and cured), ham, bacon, pâtés and lard. Rector will discuss and demonstrate wet and dry cures.

All equipment will be provided, although participants may bring their own knives on days two and three.

A fee of $75 per person covers registration for both days one (slaughter) and two (butcher); day three (further processing) costs $50 per person; while all three days cost $100 per person.  Fees cover materials, take home documentation, a small breakfast and a full lunch each day.  Registration is limited to 10 participants per day. To register, call MOFGA at 207-568-4142.



Saturday, October 20
Great Maine Apple Day



Friday through Sunday, November 2 - 4
Farmer to Farmer Conference



Friday & Saturday, November 16-17
Low-Impact Forestry Workshop
Click here for more information

MOFGA will host the Ninth Annual Low-Impact Forestry (LIF) Workshop at the Common Ground Education Center in Unity on November 16-17. This exciting, hands-on workshop is a unique opportunity to learn the latest about sustainable forestry management and working in the woods with horses and other low-impact equipment.

The workshop offers something for seasoned lumberjacks and those who are just starting in woodlot management. Working in the woods with draft animals is a major focus, and MOFGA encourages participants to bring draft animals and work one-on-one with an expert if they wish. Professional teamsters will be available throughout the workshop to teach about sustainable logging and draft animals. People without animals are also encouraged to participate. LIF machinery, including a modern, portable sawmill, will be available to learn about and try.

Events will include basic draft and oxen driving skills and safety. Learn how to build a wood scoot, use a horse-drawn logging arch, and lay out woods roads. Try driving a single horse or team. Coordinators will demonstrate LIF techniques in MOFGA’s woodlot continuously.

Friday evening will feature presentations on sustainable forestry management; music and storytelling; and historic films.

Concurrent with the workshop, MOFGA offers Chainsaw Operation and Safety for a limited number of pre-registered students. Learn the basics of saw mechanics, operation, maintenance and safety; and  practice the latest in safe felling techniques.

For more information on either workshop or to register, visit the Events section of mofga.org or call 207-568-4142.



Search Engine Helps MOFGA Raise Funds
Internet search engine GoodSearch.com donates about a penny per search to charities that users designate. Please go to www.goodsearch.com and type “MOFGA” under "Who do you GoodSearch for?" Then go to  www.goodsearch.com/toolbars.aspx and download a GoodSearch toolbar to add to your available search engines (e.g. Firefox, Google, Yahoo, Dogpile). Set GoodSearch as your default search engine, and every time you do an Internet search, you'll send a penny to MOFGA. If each of our members did just two searches a day, we could raise more than $40,000 a year!



Want to Make Costumes?
Every year good, food promoting causes want to borrow Fair Vegetable Parade costumes for a public event, such as a food coop celebration or a Healthy Food parade. We can't cope with lending existing costumes but would like to create a small, sturdy set of vegetable costumes to loan. We have some materials and designs. If you’re interested in helping us make costumes, please call Daaby at 963-4130, or Beedy at 236-8732.

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Board of Pesticides Control Convenes Stakeholders’ Meetings On Drift
In March of 2007, a group began meeting to address conflicts relating to pesticides drift. Maine's Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) convened the meetings partly in response to failed 2006 citizens’ petitions to ban aerial pesticide spraying, ban organophosphates, and eliminate the registration fee for the spray notification registry.

The Stakeholders’ Committee included one conventional grower, two aerial pesticide applicators, two organic blueberry growers, and a representative each from the Potato Board, the Forest Products Council, MOFGA, Toxics Action, Environment Maine, the Department of Agriculture, the Atlantic Salmon Commission, Cooperative Extension, the Forest Service, and the Center for Disease Control.

Committee members discussed problems arising from pesticides drift and developed recommendations to address them. Six themes helped guide the discussions:
  • Farming is an essential part of Maine’s economy;
  • Most of Maine’s agricultural operations rely on synthetic agrichemicals that are sprayed;
  • Organic agriculture is a rapidly growing sector of Maine’s farm economy;
  • Some of Maine’s large forestry operations rely on herbicides;
  • Once farmland is developed, it’s gone from agricultural production forever; and
  • Without chemical trespass, there would be no conflict.
While committee members generally seemed to agree on themes, votes on final recommendations portended a challenging struggle ahead for "users,” "non-users" and regulators.

The committee drafted 45 recommendations and generally agreed that the BPC needs to address interests of diverse landowners and residents regarding drift, with many action items relating to developing buffer zones and identifying property. Making the spray notification system more effective and helpful to applicators, landowners and residents will likely be a big focus of the BPC.  Many recommendations concerned how the BPC can more broadly educate the public about the use of agrichemicals in Maine. Votes were fairly strong, though not without dissent, for mandating drift management plans for aerial applicators and for monitoring for drift. An interesting discussion addressed how the BPC might develop better standards for determining harm from drift, with various members citing risk analysis; hazard analysis; exposures of humans and foods to pesticides; and economic damage.

Since only investigated violations are public record, MOFGA recommended that the BPC publish an annual report of complaints, violations, BPC responses to complaints, and resolutions, to promote understanding of these conflicts.

Funding will be a challenge for assessing and implementing new recommendations. Committee members support sufficient staff and financial resources to enforce existing regulations as a starting place.

The final recommendation presented to the Committee was eloquently articulated by organic blueberry grower Mark Jacoby, who urged the BPC to "prohibit pesticide application where there is an appreciable likelihood of drift onto residences, yards and drinking water wells."  Votes for and against this were almost evenly split.

Lebelle Hicks,  BPC staff toxicologist, remarked, "This is the end of the beginning of the process" and noted that the BPC would consider all the recommendations. MOFGA will continue to collaborate with the BPC, helping it achieve its directives of minimizing use of pesticides, implementing integrated pest management programs and educating the public about appropriate uses of the chemicals.

Click here to read reports on meetings of the Maine Board of Pesticides Control

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Maine Legislature Supports Deca Phase-out
Governor Signs Bill Into Law
In June, Governor John Baldacci, after almost unanimous support in the Maine Legislature, signed into law a bill to phase out the toxic fire retardant Deca. This was an historic occasion for children’s environmental health and a testament to hard work and strong political leadership.

Concern over the use of deca has grown as research found that it is accumulating in people and wildlife; that exposure to deca can impair learning and development; and that children are the most vulnerable to its toxic effects.

LD 1658, An Act to Protect Pregnant Women and Children from Toxic Chemicals Released into the Home, will:
  • by January 1, 2008, prohibit new uses of Deca in mattresses and home furniture, an otherwise potentially lucrative new market for toxic fire retardants;
  • by January 1, 2010, phase out the largest existing use of Deca in plastic cases of televisions and computers in favor of available safer alternatives; and
  • authorize the Department of Environmental Protection to ban other toxic fire retardants from use in these same products if safer alternatives that meet high fire safety standards exist.
Despite the chemical industry’s several hundred thousand dollar media campaign, Maine people, firefighters, nurses and others spoke out, and the Legislature overwhelmingly passed among the strongest Deca
legislation in the world, becoming the second U.S. state after Washington to phase out Deca.

At public hearings and work sessions, the only opposition came from the chemical industry that wants to keep making and selling Deca, despite growing worldwide concern about its threat to children and wildlife. The bill was supported by more than 50 Maine organizations, including fire safety, environmental, public health and children’s groups.

Click here to read more about MOFGA's Comprehensive Chemicals Policy

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Body of Evidence: A Study of Pollution in Maine People

Russell Libby, MOFGA’s executive director, was among 13 Maine citizens tested last year for 71 industrial chemicals. The Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine, of which MOFGA is an active member, conducted the study, and in June released Body of Evidence: A Study of Pollution in Maine People.

Researchers for the Alliance found toxic industrial chemicals in every person tested. On average, each participant’s body had measurable levels of 36 chemicals that can cause learning disabilities, cancer, birth defects, infertility and hormone disruption. Details are at www.cleanandhealthyme.org.

Among participants, Libby tied for the largest number of chemicals detected (41 of the 71) and had the largest number of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) detected (27 of 46) and higher levels of individual PBDEs. These chemicals include the brominated flame retardant Deca, which the Maine Legislature recently voted to phase out.

Libby, who avoids toxic products and, for decades, has eaten primarily organic foods, expressed surprise and frustration. "I have tried to be careful about the food I eat and products that I buy for my home and family, but I realize that I can't avoid these ubiquitous chemicals, many of which have been introduced into the market in the last 20 or 30 years," said Libby.

The report concludes that most chemical pollution happens in during our daily lives, and that most people are unaware they are being exposed by common household and personal products and plastics. The study found a mean of 36 industrial chemicals in each participant, including PBDE flame retardants from couches and televisions; PFCs (the Teflon chemicals) from stain resistant furniture, clothing, fast food paper and nonstick cookware; phthalates from nail polish, cosmetics and soft vinyl plastic, such as shower curtains; bisphenol A from reusable Nalgene water bottles and plastic linings of food cans; and mercury from polluted fish, lead from old paint, and arsenic from well water and old pressure treated wood.

Michael Belliveau, executive director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, stated, "The Maine Legislature should fix the broken safety system for industrial chemicals by enacting a chemicals policy that requires safer alternatives to the worst chemicals." Libby added, “We need a systems approach, not a problem by problem approach."

Participants were consistent in their demand for state action. Hannah Pingree, a legislator from North Haven with high levels in several chemical categories, quickly demanded action and stated, "Maine is a leader, and change starts here. We can't wait for the federal government. I say to my fellow legislators, 'if I have toxic chemicals in my system, you do too.’  It's our job to protect the people of Maine. We need action now."

Teach-In at Fair about Toxics in Maine People
Don't miss this year's Common Ground Fair Public Policy Teach-In at noon on Saturday in the AV Tent. The panel discussion and slide show will focus on the Body of Evidence study of pollution in Maine people.



MOFGA Directors Consider Fair Trade
Members of MOFGA's El Salvador Sistering Committee met with MOFGA’s Board of Directors in June to discuss possibilities for solidarity with small farmers worldwide. In this meeting, the Board adopted the following position statement:

MOFGA supports sustainable, organic farming regardless of geographic boundaries. Recognizing our interdependence, MOFGA is committed to building relationships when appropriate with farmers and movements who share our mission. Fostering such solidarity benefits Maine farmers and consumers.

This statement provides food for thought for all MOFGA committees and programs. MOFGA has a very well established sistering program with farming and rural development organizations in El Salvador, so there is a clear link. What might such solidarity look like for the Fair Steering Committee, the Educational Programs Committee, the Public Policy Committee or even the Buildings and Grounds Committee?  Committee volunteers will ponder this over the next few months. The possibilities will, no doubt, be exciting and inspiring for all.

Click here for more about MOFGA's Position Statements

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Potatoes to Plastics
In November 2006, the Maine Technology Institute awarded a Seed Grant to InterfaceFABRIC (formerly Guilford of Maine) to evaluate the feasibility of using Maine potatoes and other crops to meet the growing demand for polylactic acid (PLA) to produce bio-based plastic products. InterfaceFABRIC currently makes fabric for commercial interiors using bio-based, renewable and biodegradable fiber derived from Midwest corn.  Interface would like to buy PLA produced in Maine from Maine potatoes.

Research conducted by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center with substantial contributions from Maine’s potato and bio-plastics industry, the University of Maine, the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine and Green Harvest Technologies shows clearly that Maine’s potato industry could supply the PLA needed by Maine’s bio-plastics industry, according to a report called “Potatoes to Plastics.”

Maine’s sustainable bio-based plastics initiative is being driven by market demand for nontoxic bio-based products and the industry’s effort to respond to this new market. Many Maine companies are interested in using a “Green Chemistry” approach to identifying nontoxic raw materials to use in their products, and investors are evaluating the potential for building a PLA production facility in Aroostook County.

Maine is recognized as a leader in “Green Chemistry” and in the emerging bio-based plastics industry. The University of Maine system, a member of the congressionally funded New England Green Chemistry Consortium, hosted its annual meeting in Orono in June 2006. The Maine Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health at the University of Southern Maine is at the forefront of using “Green Chemistry” principles to examine the toxic properties of hazardous materials.

Maine’s forest products sector, with the University of Maine and economic development agencies, is researching converting Maine’s pulp and paper mills into bio-refineries. Byproducts from wood pulp waste can be used to produce raw materials for the chemical and plastics industry. Other crops offer a similar economic opportunity.  

“Potatoes to Plastic” says that the bio-based plastics industry can benefit Maine by attracting grants and venture capital; creating jobs; creating opportunities for the potato industry while reducing costs of disposing of waste potatoes; meeting demands of Maine companies for locally made, petroleum-free, compostable, bio-based plastic; protecting environmental and public health; and reducing waste and conserving landfill space, since bio-based plastics can be composted.  Also, oil consumption can be reduced and climate change slowed: PLA produced from corn requires 35% less fossil fuel than making an equal amount of petrochemical-based PET plastic and results in 52% fewer net greenhouse gas emissions than the manufacture of an equal amount of PET.


Welcome, April Boucher

Educational Programs Assistant News
Our educational programs assistant Gemma Laser has taken an exciting AmeriCorps position with Hardy Girls Healthy Women, a Waterville-based nonprofit dedicated to the health and wellbeing of girls and women. Thank you very much, Gemma, for all your great work. We wish you the best in your new job!

We are happy to have April Boucher, another bright young woman, stepping into the position. April is a 2006 graduate of College of the Atlantic, where she specialized in agriculture and ecology. She grew up in New Hampshire and spent many summers coordinating logistics at Storyland--experience that will serve her well in her work at the Common Ground Country Fair. April has had lots of interesting experiences working on farms and conducting wildlife research. This summer she coordinated shorebird protection for the Coastal Waterbird Program of the Massachusetts Audubon Society on Cape Cod. Please join us in welcoming April!



Thank You Tent Sponsors!
The sea of tents is such a memorable characteristic of the Fair that fairgoers who visit MOFGA during the rest of the year often don't recognize our home. While we are fortunate to have many beautiful buildings at the Common Ground Education Center, we have to raise 70 tents to house roughly 650 exhibits that make the Fair such a diverse and wonderful celebration. Tents are one of the Fair's biggest infrastructure expenses, so, we are thrilled to have tent sponsors who help defray these rising costs and keep the Fair affordable for the general public and for vendors. A warm and hearty thanks to these very generous sponsors!

This year MOFGA is proud to announce that the following groups and businesses are supporting the cost of the following parts of the Fair:

Ag Demo Speakers Tents:
    Sagadahoc County MOFGA Chapter
    FEDCO Seeds, Waterville, www.fedcoseeds.com

Energy and Shelter Speakers Tent:
    WarmTech Solutions, Topsham, www.warmtechsolutions.com

Spotlight Stage
    Lee Auto Mall, Topsham, www.mainehybrids.com

Other supporters:
    The Toy Box, Waterville, 873-3250
    Resources for Organizing and Social Change, Monroe

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MOFGA’s Small Farm Field Day in June
Neal McNaughten and his team, Reine’ and Belle’, helped gather hay that was scythed at MOFGA’s Small Farm Field Day in June.  Other popular demonstrations, talks and activities at this popular, annual event included cheesemaking, garden pest ID, blacksmithing, food preservation and much more. English photo.
Wind Power at MOFGA
Vernon LeCount, facilities coordinator for MOFGA, and Professional Engineer Jay LeGore adjust the tension on the guy wires before installing a 1000-pound wind turbine atop its 80 foot-tower at MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center. Since the photo was taken, the turbine and 22-foot diameter windmill blades have been installed and the machine has been tied into Maine's electric grid. Click here for more information about wind power at MOFGA.

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