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 MOFGA Notes – Summer 2006 Minimize

Well-Managed Forest Donated to MOFGA
New Faces at MOFGA
Successful Earth Day at MOFGA’s Common Ground
MOFGA’s Farm Training Project Begins in June
Barn Construction Work Party: June 24 and 25
Small Farm Field Day Coming to MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center
Empty Bowl Supper Fulfilling and Fun
MOFGA Welcomes the 2006 Journeyperson Cohort

Well-Managed Forest Donated to MOFGA

On March 9, Jerry Sass of North Anson donated his homestead and 75 acres of carefully managed forest to MOFGA. As part of his gift, Sass plans to stay on the homestead and manage the woods as long as he is able. MOFGA is to hold the property and continue to manage the woods according to Sass’ principles into the future.

“This is a tremendously generous gift. Jerry has cared for this forest for almost 40 years, and now we have a chance to pass his stewardship values and knowledge to others long into the future,” says Russell Libby, MOFGA’s Executive Director. “Donations like this could be an important model for helping new farmers and foresters to establish themselves in the years to come.”

Discussions with Sass about the future of his forest were facilitated by Concepts of Place (Bonnie Lounsbury and Adrian Wadsworth) of Lewiston, who helped work through legal and financial details of the transfer.

People who are interested in seeing the results of almost 40 years of careful management are invited to participate in a Farm Training Project tour of Sass’s forest on Tuesday, Augusta 15, at 5 p.m. in North Anson. Sass is also open to tours at other times, by prior arrangement. Please contact either Andrew Marshall or Russell Libby at the MOFGA office to make a connection.

New Faces at MOFGA

MOFGA has hired three new staff members this spring. Vernon LeCount came aboard as Facilities Coordinator in early March. LeCount is one of the founders of the Belfast Coop and had been General Manager there for the past couple of years. As Facilities Coordinator he has taken over most of the former responsibilities of Steve Plumb, who has moved into a contractor role focusing primarily on utilities. Don't worry, we're not letting Plumb get too far away from us! He will continue to volunteer with the Buildings and Grounds and Fair Steering Committees and will be in the thick of things during this year's Fair. We thank Plumb for the tireless effort he put in as a MOFGA employee over the past couple of years!

We also hired C .J. Walke as our new Landscape Coordinator. C.J. was the Farm Manager at Kelmscott Farm in Lincolnville and is pursuing a Master’s degree in Library Science. He has taken over for Amanda Jamison, who now serves as Volunteer Coordinator for the Unity Barn Raisers, sits on MOFGA's Board of Directors, and chairs MOFGA's Volunteer Landscape Committee. We didn't let Jamison stray too far either, did we!

We have also hired Michele Roy as a half-time Administrative Assistant. Roy is a long-time MOFGA member and farmer. She and her partner Denis Thoet run Long Meadow Farm in West Gardiner. A warm welcome to all of our new employees!

Successful Earth Day at MOFGA’s Common Ground

Thirty-eight people can accomplish so much in one day, as the very successful Earth Day Spring Cleanup at MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center on April 22 testified. These projects were completed:

1. Volunteers dug a dozen large (10- to 12-foot-tall) Japanese fantail willow trees, transplanting them from the South Orchard to the roadside behind the compost area. These willows will help hide the composting area from the public road.

2. In the North and South Orchards, mulch and tree guards were removed from apple trees, and compost was spread around the bases of fruit trees. Some signs were even added.

3. Several 14-foot-high trees where removed from the South Orchard and planted in a line between the main building and parking area.

4. About 10 people worked together to replace the plastic covering on the large greenhouse donated by Kelmscott Farm

5. Several small groups of adults and children removed debris and rocks from the grounds. This will make summer mowing easier and safer.

6. Using a rented excavator, four new culverts were installed in the Forest

Demonstration areas and at the Pine Woods entrance path to the grounds. These will prevent water runoff from damaging the roads. We also used the excavator to prepare the ground where the Japanese willows were transplanted.

7. Flower beds, herb gardens and beds around the Exhibition Hall building were raked and cleaned, then decayed bark mulch was added. They look great!

8. Fallen trees were cut and slash was removed from the edges of the western perimeter road (a.k.a., the livestock road).

9. Additional campsites were established and cleared in the camping area to the southwest of the Rose Gate. Slash was moved to the burn pile by the garage.

10. An extension was built on the maintenance garage. Rafters and siding were installed, and the extension is now ready for a metal roof.

11. Fencing and fence posts were removed from the Pine Gate entrance area. They will be relocated later, to increase space for the Fair.

12. Many trees received compost and mulch.

Volunteers received MOFGA T-Shirts, a great lunch, and had lots of fun.

– Vernon LeCount

MOFGA’s Farm Training Project Begins in June

This summer you can learn about:

managing soil on organic farms;

tractor safety;


basic livestock care;

building with straw bales;


saving seeds;

preserving food;

and more…

at MOFGA’s Farm Training Project workshops.

Visit Maine farms, learn something new, meet like-minded folks and discover the diversity of Maine agriculture. Help keep alive the strong tradition of free and mutual exchange of ideas that makes the Maine organic farming community so vibrant, close-knit and innovative. These are the purposes of MOFGA’s Farm Training Project workshops that take place on Maine farms from mid-June through the end of August.

These workshops are designed for and target MOFGA's apprentices but are free and open to anyone who is interested. They give apprentices and other young, beginning and aspiring farmers the chance to visit other farms, learn from farmers about their areas of expertise, and socialize with peers.

These informal workshops generally begin in the late afternoon with a farm tour, followed by a presentation and demonstration on the topic of the day. Participants are then invited to stay for a potluck supper and discussion.

This year the tours are evenly divided between eastern and western Maine. For a schedule, please call 568-4142.

Barn Construction Work Party: June 24 and 25
Want to learn about pole barn construction and help the MOFGA community at the same time? Come to MOFGA's Common Ground Education Center in Unity on June 24 and/or June 25 and help us raise a pole-style barn that uses trusses for the roof structure. The barn, which will be a permanent structure on MOFGA’s grounds, will eventually house rabbits and rabbit demonstrations during the Common Ground Fair.

Lunch and materials will be provided, but if you have tools, please bring them. Carpentry or construction skills are not required.  This is an excellent opportunity for anyone who would like to learn not only about pole barn construction, but about building in general just by watching people constructing something together. People will be arriving from 9 a.m. on, both Saturday and Sunday.

Much of the preparation and work on this structure is being done with the assistance of the Western Maine Rabbit Breeders Association.
Volunteering your time is a great way to be part of the MOFGA experience. Learn and help MOFGA grow at the same time. If you are interested or need more information, please call 568-4142.

Small Farm Field Day Coming to MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center

Come to MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center in Unity on Sunday, July 30, for an all-day event featuring talks and workshops by local and regional experts focusing on practical aspects of small-scale agriculture and homesteading. Learn about:

• small engine repair;
• growing grains;
• using hand tools;
• root cellars;
• starting a CSA;
• biodiesel as an alternative fuel;
• baking with whole grains;
• growing hoop house tomatoes;
• dyeing with natural materials;
• cheese making;
• poultry processing;
• dealing with farm and garden pests;
• sharpening tools;
… and more!

In addition to the many hour-long talks and demonstrations that Small Farm Field Day has always offered, this year participants can get more detailed information about various topics through some half-day talks.

This is a free event sponsored by MOFGA and Cooperative Extension. Gates will open at 9 and workshops will start at 9:30 a.m. Participants will be able to purchase a delicious lunch at the Education Center.

For more information, please call 568-4142 or visit www.mofga.org as the date approaches.

Empty Bowl Supper Fulfilling and Fun

One hundred gorgeous, Maine-crafted bowls filled with delicious soup from Cleonice Bistro of Ellsworth; a cheerful crowd and uplifting music from Tree by Leaf: April’s Empty Bowl Supper benefiting MOFGA’s El Salvador Committee was a huge success. A brief talk by Dennis Chinoy of Bangor Sister Cities reinforced the reason for our connection with our sisters in the South.

In his welcoming comments, Russ Libby, MOFGA’s executive director, noted the increasing communication and cooperation among activists in the North and South. He praised the success of the MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee over the last half decade and said that MOFGA is increasingly involved in North-South issues and discussions.

Chinoy showed photos from Bangor Sister Cities’ most recent trip to El Salvador, including gorgeous shots of the verdant mountains of Chalatenango, where many Salvadorans fled after the horror of the civil war in their country. Now these mountains are targeted by Canadian company Martinique Gold and Silver, which wants to do toxic, open-pit mining there. Chinoy pointed to the sad irony that 500 years after the conquistadors came to Central America for gold, international mining companies still want to extract gold from this landscape. “They are capable of ruining our sistering communities,” said Chinoy. “This is the most worrisome thing they’ve faced since the end of the war.” Mining would contaminate the water. Livestock would no longer be able to graze; crops would not grow; and the people would not have water to drink.

The people of Chalatenango are organized in their opposition to Martinique. “It has become a national issue with national resistance,” said Chinoy. “They regard these mining companies as modern-day conquistadors.”

Chinoy was told by Santiago Serrano (one of the Salvadoran delegates who visited Maine and the Common Ground Fair a few years ago), “We’re warning them that we’ve put the whole community on alert.” The 17 U.S. groups that have sistering relationships with Salvadoran communities are also addressing this issue.

The evening ended with music by the very talented young musicians of Tree by Leaf and with ample opportunity for socializing.

Thanks to the following for their donations:

Soup – Cleonice Mediterranean Bistro

Bread – John Edwards Health Food Store
Food – Belfast Coop Store, Happytown Farm
Facility – The Unitarian Universalist Church
Organization – Susan Pierce

Charlie Grosjean, Hog Bay Pottery
Chris Breedlove
Monroe Saltworks
Neil and Barbara Loken, Farmingdale
Keith Tenney
Proper Clay Stoneware, Susan Dickson-Smith
Watering Cove Pottery, Liza Fisher
Oak Hill Pottery
Unity Pond Pottery
Kathy Preston

MOFGA Welcomes the 2006 Journeyperson Cohort

Increasingly, people are reorienting systems of food production and provision around principles of ecological sustainability, face-to-face community, locality and seasonality. In doing so, they strengthen the social networks around food and agriculture.

These efforts assume that enough farmers will be around to produce the food and participate in the communities on which these systems are based. Where and how will these farmers learn the skills and techniques, and gain the experience needed to practice sustainable agriculture? In Maine, new farmer support and training models, such as MOFGA’s Journeyperson Program, are part of the solution.

Our six-year-old Journeyperson Program is beginning to gather momentum. MOFGA developed the program to fill the continuing education gap between apprentice and independent farmer and to provide resources and opportunities for prospective farmers who have completed an apprenticeship to further develop the skills they need to farm independently and successfully. The program is shaped largely by the farming interests and goals of individual participants and is intended to enable aspiring new farmers to gain advanced farming experience, skill and perspective in a relatively safe and supportive environment, buffered somewhat from the high risk of establishing a farm enterprise. Journeypeople also benefit from participating in a supportive network of like-minded, motivated people.

Please join MOFGA in welcoming these young farmers into our community by supporting their enterprises. For more information about the Journeyperson Program, visit www.mofga.org or contact Andrew Marshall at 568-4142 or amarshall@mofga.org.

Emily and Douglas Cates
Harvest Moon Farm
South China, Maine

The Cates operate Harvest Moon Farm, a MOFGA-certified organic small farm and CSA. Their passion is for rare, heirloom and unusual and preservation varieties of vegetables, herbs, fruits, flowers, poultry and waterfowl.

The Cates have deep reverence for the planet and its diverse creatures and are committed to living in a way that brings honor to all. Their primary goals in their work are to nourish the community in which they live and to have some fun along the way. “We are constantly in awe of the many diverse gifts the earth shares with those who cultivate her,” muses Emily. “It is this awe that inspires us to want to be involved in helping others to appreciate and to be in touch with the ground they live upon.”

Both grew up in the same East Vassalboro neighborhood. Doug was raised on a farm that his family has cultivated with no break in continuity. Emily, however, comes from a "modern" household and has had to learn everything she knows about homesteading from scratch! They were married in 2000 and moved in 2005 to their homestead in China Village.

The Cates keep 50 birds – chickens, ducks and muscovies – and a very special dog. As do-it-yourselfers and die-hard cheapskates, they grow much of their own food and do their own butchering. They love helping others and sharing their skills when needed. They firmly believe in hard work, respect, peace and perseverance, and a really good laugh from time to time!

Brady Hatch and Brendan McQuillen
Morning Dew Farm
Newcastle, Maine

Hatch and McQuillen operate the 2-acre, certified organic Morning Dew Farm in Newcastle that serves Damariscotta-area natural food stores, boutique grocers and restaurants. Morning Dew also grows for a 35-member CSA from June through October.

Both Hatch and McQuillen graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2003 after studying political theory, ecology and philosophy. They apprenticed at Full Circle Farm in Carnation, Washington, and worked at Sweetwater Community Farm in Tampa, Florida. Their farming goals are to strengthen the local agricultural economy, provide a link between consumers and the fields and families that provide their food, and enjoy the pleasures of a life lived in close contact with the soil. They provide a newsletter with recipes for their CSA members each week and work closely with local chefs in planning for a rich array of flavors and varieties throughout the season. They are members of Slow Food USA, are in the process of founding a Midcoast convivium, and are developing educational programs for students at Great Salt Bay School and Edgecomb Eddy School.

In the off-season, Hatch practices ashtanga yoga, knits in a women's circle and serves on the board of a local peace and justice group. McQuillen plays guitar and banjo, skates for two local hockey teams and draws cartoons. Both enjoy snowboarding, cribbage and drinking single malt, preferably Islays and Skyes.

Clayton Carter and Kendra Michaud
MOFGA Farmers-in-Residence
Unity, Maine

Carter and Michaud met in Boston, where both worked with computers to support a space-based telescope. While building their life together, they decided to move to Maine, where Michaud grew up, so that they could live a lifestyle more consistent with their values. Carter apprenticed on a farm in Brooklin, and Michaud worked as a baker in Southwest Harbor, Brooklin and Portland before they became MOFGA's latest Farmers in Residence and moved into the farmhouse at the Common Ground Education Center in Unity.

Carter will be growing produce for sale at farmers’ markets in Unity and Waterville while he develops skills and experience in organic farming. Michaud will be baking pastries for sale at these markets while she builds a wood fired oven in which she intends to bake bread for sale locally. Both are committed to education and hope to use this experience to teach others about sustainable farming and baking. Finally and perhaps most importantly, they're also going to adopt a dog (or two, if Carter has any say about it.)

Lara Schneider
Cultivating Community
Portland, Maine

Schneider is the grower and CSA coordinator at Cultivating Community, a Portland-based nonprofit that uses food and farming to educate, empower and nourish youth and low-income communities. She is committed equally to organic agriculture and environmental education, and her 10-year career has been divided almost evenly between the two.

Joining Cultivating Community allows Schneider to bring these passions together. Since 1996, she has worked on farms in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Missouri, Oregon and California, cultivating a keen interest in native species plantings and permaculture. She has also done environmental and food systems education in schools and in alternative education settings. She holds a B.S. in natural resources, horticulture and forestry from the University of Missouri.

Rachel Seemar
Buckwheat Blossom Farm
Wiscasset, Maine

Like many of Maine’s next-generation farmers, Seemar came to farming in a roundabout way, through social and political activism. While spending much of her time on issues involving building sustainable communities and alternatives to our society’s corporatization, she was slowly drawn to local organic agriculture as a tool to effect community change and a lifestyle that emphasized what was important to her – being outdoors, conserving natural resources, working alongside lots of different people and, of course, eating good food!  

Seemar worked on vegetable farms in Massachusetts for a few years before moving to Maine. For the past two years she managed Wolf Pine Farm CSA in Alfred. We’re happy to say that Seemar is now “almost ready to call Maine home!” She is working with her mentor Jeff Burchstead at Buckwheat Blossom Farm in Wiscasset, growing vegetables and learning to use draft horses. She hopes to own her own team soon, as well as some farmland in southern Maine, to establish her own small CSA and to grow grain.

Seemar would like to collaborate with other local farmers to fill out her CSA with such products as meat and dairy, to participate actively in the farming community there, to have her land be a place of rest and meeting for family and community members, and to be close enough to the ocean to do a lot of swimming and surfing.


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