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MOF&G Cover Spring 1997


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 Letters – Spring 1997 Minimize

Food and Population
Prisoner Seeks Literature on Sustainability
More MOFGA Memoirs

Food and Population

Dear Editor:

The article entitled, “Amnesty International Fights For Food Security” (MOF&G, 2/97) raises a thorny issue in my mind that not many care to discuss: the link between food and population growth. While not many people will dispute the idea that there is currently enough food to feed at least most of the people in the world, I have to wonder if the goal to feed the world’s growing population won’t end up exploding in our faces.

Is it inconceivable that as more people are fed, they will reproduce more? And by reproducing more won’t we then have the challenge of feeding even more people who will then reproduce more? This has been the case throughout the history of living species on earth — more food equals greater populations. And who among us does not understand the consequences of an exploding world population?

While I am not advocating starvation, I do think it is imperative that we rethink our goals of ever-expanding agriculture to feed ever-expanding populations throughout the world. There are currently nearly six billion people on the earth. The last doubling of world population has occurred in less than 40 years with the next doubling expected to happen in even less time. What will this do to the world’s resources, which are already over-taxed?

We, the living generations, must act soon to develop a new vision so that future generations may share in the bounty that this world offers. In this vein, I highly recommend the book Ishmael by Daniel Quinn to anyone interested in exploding some deep-seated myths about our culture — myths that have brought us to the brink of a very precarious situation. There may be another way to live that will give future generations a chance, but first we must understand who we are.


– Ted Markow, Brunswick


Prisoner Seeks Literature on Sustainability

Dear friends,

I hope this letter finds you well, and in good spirits. My name is Nikolai Zarick; unfortunately I am incarcerated. But I am investing my time by designing an alternative architectonic system called “Metatecture” (Meta: beyond both/and, along with, combining form. Tecture from architecture). With so many new and revived, high and low tech. technologies in use these days, I saw a need to create a new term for when they are used together. (Feel free to use this term.)

My version of “Metatecture” amalgamates airform and armature architecture, strawbale, cordwood, rammed earth, adobe, bricolage, soft energy, edible/perennial xeriscaping, treatment, wetlands, wattle and daub, forest farming, aquaculture, synchronicity, and other sustainable technologies into a “green,” “whole,” viable multitudinous intentional community.

I have been desperately struggling to find resources, research, study materials, periodicals (back issues and complimentary subscriptions), or just an encouraging word. I will be eternally grateful for any new or used literature or information in heterogeneous though connecting topics that you can share with me, or perhaps you know of someone who can help me, help others, through my work.

I apologize for sounding so presumptuous and mendicant, but I am working with a zero budget and striving against the tides of my imprisonment. I hope that you will open your heart to assist me, but whatever you decide, thank you for your time, and the good work that you are doing.

With admiration,

– Nikolai Zarick #162110
Connecticut Dept. of Correction
900 Highland Ave., Cheshire, CT 06410-1698

P.S. Please address all correspondence with your company/group’s name.


More MOFGA Memoirs

Dear Jean:

Having just read, with great interest, the article in the recent MOFGA newspaper about MOFGA’s upcoming 25th anniversary, I would like to add some more information about the very beginnings of the organization.

My wife, Roberta, and I named our 140 acre farm in Plymouth the KEN-RO Farm. It was June of 1969 and we were just out of the Air Force and wanted to put our studies of organics to practical use. We had read Silent Spring and, with my degree in chemistry, I could see that the vision of Rachel Carson was not radical. Also, we had been reading Organic Gardening magazine for many years.

We were not unlike the other folks who were getting into organic production at that time – we were looking to the University for assistance and information and finding that there was little available. The University and extension people didn’t know that much about organic production and were sort of coming under attack.

Not being desk-pounding radicals, we began our organic production on the premise that we would show folks that it could be done. We became acquainted with many of the other growers in our area, most notably Ben Wilcox of Peacemeal Farm and Rob Johns­ton of Johnny’s Appleseeds in Dixmont (now Johnny’s Selected Seeds).

While the circumstances of our original meetings are lost in the fog of memory, we became acquainted with Charlie Gould and Willie Erhardt. Charlie and the Extension Service were extremely helpful in assisting with the establishment of MOFA. It was at that fateful meeting in Freeport in 1971 that I was asked to take, and accepted, the presidency of MOFA.

It was through the efforts of MOFA that the small, enthusiastic groups throughout the state were able to be contacted and brought together into what eventually became today’s MOFGA. Our efforts gained the attention of Rodale Press, the people who publish Organic Gardening magazine. We were invited to make a presentation at a meeting at the Rodale headquarters in Pennsylvania, which brought together both fledgling and established organic groups, as well as a plethora of interested people. Charlie Gould, Jim Luthy, myself and one or two others whose names escape me at this time spoke at this conference, and we were extremely proud to bring national recognition to MOFA.

I personally had embarked on a course of letter writing and organic myth debunking, and was lucky enough to have several letters and articles published, as well as being invited to speak to several interested organizations, and at a conference at Colby College. There was even a program on Maine Public Television which allowed me to present the then newly minted definition of organic production, courtesy of Rodale Press.

In conjunction with this information barrage, Dr. Erhardt invited me to travel with him to extension gatherings, where we each presented information about our style of gardening. The question and answer periods with the audience were quite interesting. While he stuck to his guns, he was willing to give organic production equal time. He was very fair in this matter and we even co-authored the extension publication, Natural Gardening. It was not the title I would have chosen, and it didn’t contain all the information I would have liked it to, but it certainly was a foot in the door and indicated that my approach was helping to enlighten the Extension Service. In fact, our farm was frequently visited by Extension Agents who were curious about organic production. They came to learn and they did.

Jim Luthy was quite into the certification process and I was so busy with the other facets of the education and information battle that I didn’t get involved in the formulation of the certification program. Roberta and I were lucky enough, however, to become the first farm Organically Certified by MOFA. Our label bore the number 1.

Our farm’s notoriety was such that the Department of Agriculture sent a photographer. He spent several days following us around doing what photographers do and one of his photographs of us ended up in the 1976 Yearbook of Agriculture.

Somehow, we got hooked up with Antioch College of Yellow Springs, Ohio, and they would send us students for a semester on an organic farm and we would end up giving the student a grade for the co-op portion of their education. We also had young people come from as far away as California to work the summer with us. It was great to have their help and to introduce them to the organic way of life. It was an informal apprenticeship program that existed before the more formal MOFGA program.

On the business side of our farming, we helped to feed ours and others’ need for the right kinds of fertilizer for the organic producer. We were the first people to bring rock phosphate into Maine and we did it by the box car load. One year, we did two box cars of it. Greensand and powdered granite were trucked in, as were Fertrell products. There was also liquid seaweed on the scene. We were proud to count Scott and Helen Nearing among our customers. All this happened before OGSI. In fact, Ben was one of our customers and helped us unload the first box car.

It was through our efforts that garden stores, such as some enlightened Agways, Conley’s Garden Center in Boothbay Harbor and others, now had a source of supply for the items that so many gardeners were clamoring for.

Even though we were promoting Organic Production and making it more feasible for all gardeners to obtain the fertilizer products they wanted, our efforts were looked upon by some purists in the organization as too commercial. Go figure.

What with all the travelling, writing, farming, earning a living, raising kids, etc., life started to catch up with us, and what is now called burn out seemed to enter our lives. As a result, when the meeting in Augusta came around, I felt it was time to get off the public route and concentrate on home and hearth. I declined the nomination for the presidency and we just sort of faded away from the scene over the next few years.

I had been out of the state for some ten years, and it was in 1995 that I attended the Fair for the first time. It was superb!! I can remember when I was trying to convince people that MOFA should have a presence at the existing county fairs to get the word out – I was severely castigated for such an idea!

In any event, I hope I have filled in a few holes in the history of this super organization. Actually, many years ago, when the memories were more intact, I was asked to write up a history of the organization from its inception. I sent that history to the office in Hallowell and it may yet be somewhere in the bowels of the filing system. If it could be found, it could add more names and facts to the history.


Sincerely yours,
– Kenneth L. Horn



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