Mike Bowman and Maria Reynolds of Groundswell Farm at their booth at the Common Ground Country Fair. English photo.
Groundswell Farm: Toward a Sustainable Organic Seed System
By Holli Cederholm
Mike Bowman and Maria Reynolds named their Groundswell Farm after their farming ideology and the topography of the 7 acres they are leasing in Solon, Maine. Their 4 acres of MOFGA certified organic seed and market vegetable crops and 3 acres in cover crops crest in small hills, lending the landscape, in Reynolds’ words, likeness to the swelling sea. The name also harkens to the groundswell of general interest around sustainable organic agriculture, including seed production.
Sagadahoc MOFGA: Thirty-Five Years, Thirty-Five Fairs, Seven Community Gardens and Abundant Good Energy
By Jean English
The Sagadahoc chapter of MOFGA celebrated its 35 years of fruitful activities in October 2011 at the Chewonki Foundation’s beautiful Chapin Hall in Wiscasset. Russell Libby, MOFGA’s executive director, said that when he joined the MOFGA board, 10 county chapters existed. Now the Knox-Lincoln chapter is sometimes active; the Waldo County chapter holds regular meetings; Cumberland and York counties are reviving their chapters; but “Sagadahoc has been constant the whole time.”
Maine Academy of Natural Sciences: An Organic Approach to Education
By Jean English
On a typical day at the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences (MeANS), agricultural specialist Jeff Chase is outside exploring with a small group of students how the forest floor is important for forest health – for water, nutrients and regeneration. And as one student, Zach, points out, “Otherwise the forest would be floating in the air.”
Erin French started The Lost Kitchen as a “secret supper” enterprise before opening her new restaurant. Jonathan Levitt photo.
The Lost Kitchen: Found in Belfast
By Polly Shyka
For a short while, Belfast, Maine, was home to a secret supper that had locals and area visitors wondering and whispering. Erin French spent months finding a space that suited her vision for the experiment she had conjured: a unique dining experience where she could hone her skills and creativity cooking for others.
Strawberry Production Systems
David Handley, UMaine Extension small fruit and vegetable specialist, and David Pike, who grows strawberries in Farmington, Maine, talked about this crop at MOFGA’s November 2011 Farmer to Farmer Conference.
Greater Lovell Land Trust’s Environmental Education Program
By Joyce White
Soon after I moved to the Lovell area from northern Maine, I began attending guided nature hikes offered by the Greater Lovell Land Trust (GLLT). Kevin Harding, a retired teacher turned naturalist, led the walks on established trails, pointing out animal tracks or scat, showing and telling how voles create underground tunnels to avoid being eaten by hawks or owls.
Back to the Horse-Drawn Future – Toward Sustainability
By Kenneth Copp
Late one winter morning in March, I pulled in to the Belfast Co-op parking lot with our faithful horse Melody and one of our closed carriages. Having been horse-drawn for more than 12 years, I was not trying to get attention or put on a historical reenactment. It is our way of life now, and I had some business in town that day.
Mixing It Up Companion Planting for Greater Yield and Quality
By Will Bonsall
Polycultures, intercrops, companion plants – all describe more or less the same idea: growing two or more different crops on the same plot at the same time, in a way that one or more of the partners benefits in some way that it otherwise would not. These combinations may be as ancient as the Native American tradition of Three Sisters – beans, corn, squash – or as modern as a new grouping I’ll try this coming season: chufa (a sedge with an edible tuber) with fenugreek.
Moray: First Agricultural Experiment Station?
By John Koster
When agronomists want a new potato variety, they go to Peru – and with good reason. The Indian peoples of the Andes, culminating in the Inca Empire, had developed 3,000 types of edible potatoes and 150 types of corn. No one is sure how they did it, but one plausible suggestion is that they did whatever they did at Moray.
Julia and Andy McLeod grew most of the food they served to nearly 100 guests at their wedding. Photo courtesy of Sarah Moore.
A Local Food Wedding, from Seed to Plate
By Julia McLeod
I can imagine some future brides poring over wedding magazines – delighting in dresses, shoes and flowers. I pored over seed catalogs – oohing and aahing over heirloom tomatoes and watermelon varieties. My husband, Andy, and I decided to grow and cook the majority of the food for our nearly 100 wedding guests. It was an incredibly meaningful and rewarding experience, and dinner was delicious.
In Search of the Ideal Organic Potato
By Sue Smith-Heavenrich
In a country where french fries reign supreme, how does an organic grower find great-tasting potatoes that not only appeal to chefs but also thrive under organic conditions? With more than 60 percent of potatoes headed for processing plants, breeders have found the market slow to accept new varieties – even varieties best adapted to the Northeast, says Walter S. De Jong, professor of plant breeding and genetics at Cornell University.
Conference Highlights from 2011
By Diane Schivera, M.A.T.
Conferences and workshops are rich sources of tips for livestock care, pasture management, marketing and more. Here are some ideas gleaned from 2011 events that I attended.
Weathering a Food Safety Recall: Are Your Records Ready?
By Cheryl Wixson
Forty-one days after our company launched its first products, we received an urgent recall from Starwest Botanicals, a supplier of organic herbs and spices, due to Salmonella contamination of organic celery seed, 1 pound size, lot number 40302, shipped between June 29, 2011, and November 29, 2011. We were instructed to examine our stocks immediately and discontinue use and distribution and recall any product we had distributed with the contaminated seed.
Spotted Wing Drosophila
By Eric Sideman, Ph.D.
I am usually not an alarmist. When local newspapers pick up stories about crops ruined by weather or pests, my initial reaction is usually, “Here they go again, sensationalizing stories to sell newspapers.” Once in a while, though, I am as nervous as the media, and this is one of those times. The spotted wing drosophila (SWD) is just the kind of threat that all of us who grow soft fruit need to notice.
Toki Oshima drawing
Root Cellar Daze
By Roberta Bailey
In the dark of the root cellar, the bright tales of last year’s harvests are fading. The warm fall season did not help the storage quality of any of the root crops. Either we do something soon or all this food will be compost or chicken food. Honorable fates, but let’s try to get more of this onto our plates. These recipes offer ideas for cleaning out the root cellar.
Stewards Create Good Gardens and Forests
By Andy McEvoy
Weeding a garden seems intuitive. Unwanted weeds impinge on the ability of vegetable crops to absorb water and nutrients from the soil and energy from the sun, so we weed. Likewise, after carrots sprout, we thin them; otherwise the crowded roots will twist around one another in odd and comical shapes.
How to Sell to a Distributor
By Melissa White Pillsbury
At the Maine Agricultural Trades Show in January, Leah and Marada Cook of Crown O’ Maine Organic Coop (COMOC) discussed what farmers need to know about selling to a distributor. They shared insights into the worlds of produce distributors in general and of COMOC in particular.
In the Orchard – Spring Time is Planting Time
By C.J. Walke
As the days grow longer and the sun climbs higher, we are slowly rolling into the month of March, and it’s time to prune your fruit trees and maintain the structural framework that will support bushels of beautiful, organically grown fruit. Remember to keep your tools sharp and your cuts clean, and a healthy tree will heal its wounds and respond with growth that improves fruit quality and overall tree vigor.
Japanese beetles. English photo.
Fish Oil vs. Japanese Beetles
Fish Bones Bind Lead in Soils
Late Blight Resistant Tomatoes
Cows Trained to Eat Thistle
Energy and Population
A Better Financial Harvest?
Genetically Engineered Crops – Where are We Now?
By Russell Libby, MOFGA Executive Director
Twenty years ago MOFGA pushed for labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods, which were just then entering the marketplace, and therefore the grocery store. The Legislature said that this was a federal issue, not a state one, and turned down the legislation, repeatedly. The federal government decided to treat GE crops the same as any other crop, and not require labeling of any kind.
The Assurance and Power of MOFGA Certified Organic
By Jean English, Editor, The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener
In Holli Cederholm’s feature story in this issue of The MOF&G, Mike Bowman of Groundswell Farm says that he has always farmed and gardened organically and has never considered any other method. He and Maria Reynolds cultivate Groundswell Farm the way they learned, through their own farming and gardening experiences, through apprenticeships on MOFGA certified organic farms, and by having co-managed the MOFGA certified organic Black Bear Food Guild at the University of Maine. They are of a generation that has grown up with organic and now embodies an ethos in which MOFGA members – consumers, gardeners, farmers – trust.
The Complete Book of Potatoes
What's Gotten into Us? Staying Healthy in a Toxic World
The New Maine Cooking