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MOF&G Cover Summer 2012

  You are here:  PublicationsMaine Organic Farmer & GardenerSummer 2012MOFGA – Summer 2012   
 MOFGA Notes – Summer 2012 Minimize

Katy Green
Katy Green. Photo by Dan Barnett-Parker.

MOFGA Staff Profile: Katy Green
MOFGA Journeyperson Program Thriving
MOFGA Houses Shared-Use Equipment
Farm & Homestead Day
Thanks to Empty Bowl Donors
MOFGA Has Laser Engraver
DOE at MOFGA
Maine School Garden Network News
Congratulations …
Condolences to the family and friends of …


MOFGA Staff Profile: Katy Green

When did you start working for MOFGA? What is your job title?

I started as MOFGA’s administrative assistant in 2008. In 2010 I started working full time in my current role as organic transitions coordinator. I am also a technical service provider through USDA NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) for the Conservation Plan Supporting Organic Transition. As organic transitions coordinator I help growers who are interested in transitioning to organic production and I work with farmers, particularly beginning farmers, to think about on-farm conservation and access to conservation programs.

How did you train or qualify for the job?

I began training for this kind of work at the University of Maine and at the Rogers Farm. Before coming to MOFGA I worked on farm water quality projects for Cornell Cooperative Extension. There, I helped to organize and implement water quality improvements on farms in close conjunction with NRCS and became familiar with many NRCS programs and practices. That familiarity and new funding opportunities for organic farmers that came with the 2008 Farm Bill allowed me to move into this position at MOFGA.

How do you help farmers transition to becoming certified organic?

The primary way that I help farmers is through the NRCS Conservation Plan Supporting Organic Transition (CPSOT) – an activity plan funded by NRCS that helps growers through the transition process. I work with the grower to identify goals, work out a plan for the transition process and determine how NRCS practices can help growers along the way. This is the most comprehensive way that I help growers transition to certified organic production, but I also get lots of phone calls and emails from folks who have simple questions about how to fill out paperwork or what something in the organic standards means. The NRCS activity plan is a great resource for people who aren’t sure where to begin the transition process. I encourage anyone who is interested in transitioning to contact the local NRCS office or me to learn more about the program.

Can you describe a typical day or days on the job?

There is a great deal of seasonal variability and it’s always hard to tell what the next phone call or email will bring. I spend a lot more time visiting farms and getting around the state in the summer and a lot more time in the winter writing transition-to-organic plans. Spring is particularly busy as lots of people call to let me know they have new contracts with NRCS for CPSOTs, and certification deadlines occur for the coming growing season. It can be a mad dash to help everyone get paperwork in for both certification and NRCS programs.

What is the most difficult part of the transition process for growers?

A big hurdle for a lot of growers is recordkeeping, which often seems daunting, but once people understand the kinds of records that are required, and develop strategies for working through them, it is much easier.

How many growers have you helped with the transition process?

To date I’ve helped about 35 farms through the transition process as part of the NRCS program. Many of the people who have gone through that process have gone on to become certified organic or are excited to do so within the next couple of years. I’m getting phone calls now and am beginning to plan farm visits for people who are just enrolling in the NRCS activity plan program and am excited to see how many people I’ll be working with this year. Applications for the program are accepted on a rolling basis, and people who are interested in participating in this program this year still have time to apply. The final deadline for NRCS activity plans this year is July 1.

What are some of the issues you see when you cover meetings of the Maine Board of Pesticides Control (BPC)?

Covering BPC meetings for MOFGA and The MOF&G is always educational. I am constantly reminded how many types of pesticides are registered in the state and how vast their use is. It is amazing to hear about lawn, agricultural, indoor and ball field pesticide applications (or violations) all in one day. It is also striking how little input the board receives from the public as well as how little the public knows about what the board does. I think there would be huge opportunities for much more public involvement with what is happening with pesticides and genetically engineered crops in the state if there were more awareness about what is happening at the BPC. Many of the issues discussed there have wide-ranging impacts on all kinds of people, but the board only hears opinions from the handful of participants who attend each meeting.

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MOFGA Journeyperson Program Thriving

MOFGA received 44 applications for its Journeyperson Program this year, interviewed 34, and 27 were selected. Currently 51 people are participating in the program.

Where do these people go after completing their time with MOFGA? Many stay in Maine and produce much of the organic food we enjoy.

Now, a new partnership will help MOFGA journeypeople find land and farming infrastructure once they finish the program. A three-year grant from the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program is enabling MOFGA to leverage the services and expertise of Land for Good and Maine Farmland Trust to help journeypersons find land.

Land For Good, based in Keene, N.H., is a regional nonprofit offering education and assistance to owners and managers of working lands, to entering farmers and to other land use decision makers. Maine Farmland Trust operates Maine FarmLink, a statewide farm transfer program that connects farmers seeking land with retiring farmers who wish to see their land continue being farmed. MOFGA’s partnership with Maine Farmland Trust will provide an enhanced version of FarmLink’s targeted support, advocacy, guidance and placement services to journeypersons, through dedicated staff person Erica Buswell. Buswell will also work closely with other MFT staff to take advantage of potential land preservation deals to benefit beginning farmers, when that option is available as part of the land access strategy.

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MOFGA Houses Shared-Use Equipment

MOFGA is housing and maintaining three pieces of farm equipment for use by local farmers as part of a “Shared Use Farm Equipment (SUFE)” club in conjunction with Maine Farmland Trust. Farmers pay $100 to join the SUFE club. The equipment includes a two-shank subsoiler (for breaking up hard-pan and improving drainage), a machine that forms raised beds and lays plastic mulch, and a “one-pass” cultivator to prepare seedbeds. More equipment is expected soon. Folks interested in using the equipment should contact Mike Gold, Maine Farmland Trust Unity office, mgold@mainefarmlandtrust.org or 948-6575.

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MOFGA’s Home & Farmstead Day
Take part in scything and in many other hands-on workshops and activities at MOFGA’s Home & Farmstead Day. English photo.

Farm & Homestead Day
Saturday, June 16, 2012, at MOFGA

Skills for rural living are the focus of Farm & Homestead Day on Saturday, June 16, 2012, at MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center in Unity. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., you can learn by doing: Pick up a hammer, a scythe, a shovel, a drop spindle. This event is free, although donations are greatly appreciated. Workshops that enable participants (that’s you!) to take an item home may have materials fees.

Gates open at 8:30, and from 9 a.m. onward several tracks will be offered, including:

Chickens – incubating, brooding, pasturing, processing (and possibly cooking); build a chicken tractor for your tiny flock.

Herbs – making herbal mead; managing basil; edible and medicinal plant walk; Herbs 101: Managing your herbs for increased harvest.

Scythes – mowing, blade maintenance, using a grain cradle on a scythe. Join the Sunrise Mowers at 7 a.m. for team mowing in the Amphitheater.

Gardening – Plant a tree garden using companion plants that benefit fruit trees, with John Bunker and Lauren Cormier; learn about herbs in the culinary herb garden; build a hugelkultur bed; Kids Can Grow: Build a productive vegetable garden for any yard.

Building – Learn to build a top bar beehive and a decoratively carved goat milking stand using round poles and scavenged wood, with Shana Hansen; build a bluebird nesting box; split shakes/shingles with froe and mallet.

In addition, MOFGA’s blacksmithing forge will be open; children of any age can weave with Jenny Johnson and spin wool with Betty Hauger; choose the right fleece for the right project with Rose Whitehead; skirt fleeces; go from fleece to mittens; and participate in a workshop on nålbinding, a Scandinavian needlework technique that predates knitting and crocheting.

In the woods, Robert Nelson will give two talks in MOFGA’s sugarbush on thinning a sugarbush; and folks can walk MOFGA’s new trails.

Vendors will include Scythe Supply, Fedco, Half Moon Gardens, Mackie’s Family Farm Market, and Amy LeBlanc of Whitehill Farm (garden plants).

Lunch will be available for purchase from Juliana Hoffman of Tic Tac Tacos and from Maine Falafel, or bring a picnic.

A lunchtime panel discussion will cover the myriad types of Community Supported Agriculture enterprises (CSAs) available in Maine.

For more information, see www.mofga.org or check MOFGA’s Facebook page. To volunteer or participate in Farm & Homestead Day, contact Nancy Rosalie at 207-568-7597 or email farmandhomesteadday@myfairpoint.net.

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Empty Bowl by Christopher Signorino
The MOFGA-El Salvador Committee had another successful Empty Bowl fundraiser supper in April, thanks to donations of food, of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Belfast, and of bowls from several Maine potters – including this one made by Christopher Signorino of Belfast. English photo.

Thanks to Empty Bowl Donors

MOFGA’s El Salvador Sistering Committee held its 11th Empty Bowl supper, a major fundraiser for the group, in April. Thanks to those who attended and to the following donors, who made another Empty Bowl supper a success.

Potters

Betsy Levine, Prescott Hill Pottery, Liberty

Mary Trotochaud, Everyday Pottery, Belmont

Christopher Signorino, Belfast

Chris Breedlove, Honeybee Pottery, Mt. Desert

Charlie Grosjean, Hog Bay Pottery, Franklin

Akemi Wray, Gull Rock Pottery, Hancock

Barbara Walch Pottery, Thorndike

Melody Lewis-Kane, Clayforms, Sedgwick

Malley Weber, Hallowell Clay Works

Jody Johnstone Pottery, Swanville

Loken Pottery, Farmingdale

Robert and Wendy Esposito, Unity Pond Pottery, Unity

Beth Herrick and Beth Pomroy, Beez, Inc., Mt. Desert

Food

Cleonice Mediterranean Bistro, Ellsworth

Belfast Co-op Store

Happy Town Farm, Orland

Treble Ridge Farm, Whitefield

Sheepscot General Store, Whitefield

Facilities, set-up, cleanup

Unitarian Universalist Church, Belfast

Set-up, cleanup and everything in between

Susan Pierce

Music

The Tom Luther Trio

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MOFGA Has Laser Engraver

MOFGA has purchased a laser sign engraver, funded in part by the Davis Conservation Foundation. Bill Whitman has learned the intricacies of moving text and artwork from a computer onto glass, wood, paper, stone and other materials, which the laser burns. The quality of the text and images is superb. MOFGA’s landscape committee, woodlot folks and others involved in education on the grounds are creating text for use on signs.

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DOE at MOFGA

The U.S. Department of Energy visited MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center in February to inspect one of the solar photovoltaic sites that Efficiency Maine paid for with federal dollars. The DOE inspectors were impressed that Common Ground Fair traffic gets a close look at the system on MOFGA’s red barn, and they liked the fact that MOFGA saved the barn to use as a solar installation. They were also excited about the good exposure the public and farmers have to different ways MOFGA uses solar energy.

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Maine School Garden Network News

The 2012 School Garden Open House will take place on Saturday, September 29, 2012, in conjunction with Maine Harvest Lunch week (September 26 - 30.) Open House events will be held at schools and educational gardens across Maine and will raise awareness of the myriad benefits of garden programs. The Maine School Garden Network (MSGN) will provide publicity, activity suggestions and logistical guidance. Participating schools will plan and facilitate their own unique open house events. For more information or to find out how your school can get involved, visit www.msgn.org, email info@msgn.org, or call MSGN’s chair, Kat Coriell, at 207-926-3047.

The MSGN met on March 1, 2012, to hear from 26 stakeholders and to continue its strategic planning. Craig Freshley of Good Group Decisions facilitated and reported on the meeting. Participants represented the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, the Maine Department of Education, Healthy Maine Partnerships, land trusts, FoodCorps, garden education programs, schools, farms, and the Maine Commission for Community Service.

Thoughtful discussions and lively exchanges coalesced into concrete objectives and strategies that will propel MSGN toward its vision of a garden in every school and its mission of promoting and supporting educational gardens for youth, and encouraging school programs that teach healthy eating and environmental stewardship.

For more about MSGN’s strategic plan, or to get involved in MSGN’s work, email info@msgn.org.

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Congratulations …

to our own MOF&G designer and producer, Tim Nason, who found a missing boy, Micah Thomas, in a marsh along the Eastern River in Dresden in March. The 12-year-old got lost in the area and spent a night cold and wet before being found with hypothermia and other health problems, from which he recovered. Tim told reporters that he thought like a kid – who, he believed, would go toward the river. In fact, in Nason’s 1997 self-published story “Days With Cedar Whitewater,” a boy does run away and hide near a river. Also, MOFGA member David Hilton, who has volunteered at every Common Ground Fair, was the dispatcher for the Maine Forest Service helicopter helping with the search for Thomas.

to MOFGA-certified organic Wood Prairie Farm: Its ‘Yukon Gold’ potatoes, when analyzed in replicated dryland organic test plots by North Dakota State University, outperformed all other organic and conventional seed on all important metrics. They had the highest total yield (200 cwt (hundred weight)/acre), the highest yield of #1 tubers (193.2 cwt/acre) and the lowest poundage of “B” (undersize) tubers (6.8 cwt/acre). Says Wood Prairie Farm, “The NDSU published research also confirms our own observation on Wood Prairie Farm in which we have concluded there are significant differences in seed quality and associated crop performance and yield. We believe our success in achieving high seed quality is attributable to our 35 years of experience as organic farmers, our attention to detail and our careful husbandry of our soil, with particular benefits attributable to building soil quality through long rotations, additions of organic material, balanced mineralization with rock powders and enhancement of soil microbiology. We choose to be organic farmers because organic is demonstratively the superior system for seed and food production and it allows us to be proper and good stewards of our farm.” (Wood Prairie Farm Seed Piece Newsletter, March 29, 2012)

to MOFGA-certified organic Treble Ridge Farm in Whitefield, which was awarded Animal Welfare Approved certification. This certification and food label lets consumers know that animals were raised according to the highest animal welfare standards in the United States, using sustainable agriculture methods on an independent family farm. The diversified farm, operated by Rufus and Alice Percy, raises hardy mixed-breed pigs. Animal Welfare Approved, a national nonprofit organization, audits, certifies and supports farmers raising their animals according to the highest welfare standards, outdoors on pasture or range.

to MOFGA-certified organic dairy farmers Douglas and Linda Hartkopf of Albion and Garin and Sarah Smith of Skowhegan for receiving the Ray Hass Organic Pioneer Award from Organic Valley in March 2012. This annual memorial award is given to pioneers in the organic movement and in the cooperative. It is named for a founding member of Organic Valley and one of the first U.S. organic dairy farmers.

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Condolences to the family and friends of …

Peggy Connell, a good friend of MOFGA who died this winter after a long struggle with cancer. Peggy was a longtime member of the Common Ground Country Fair Planning Team. She worked tirelessly to improve systems, communication, teamwork and infrastructure at the Fair, and had a special ability to inspire enthusiastic participation among the younger generation of fairgoers and leaders. With help from her daughter Mary Chamberlin and from Chris Fabian, she enhanced MOFGA’s wonderful volunteer camping area. Peggy also worked with Mary to create the Health and Healing Area of the Fair. Peggy’s vivacious laughter, radiant smile, and comforting bear hugs will live on in the beauty of the Fair and in our hearts. Our love and sympathies go out to the Connell and Chamberlin families.

Waldo Marston Joslyn Sr., who died in April 2012 at the age of 82. Waldo was active in MOFGA and in the Maine Draft Horse and Ox Association. He logged with horses when young, and owned a dairy farm for many years.

Danya Klie, a good friend to MOFGA, to the Waldo Organic Growers and an ambitious volunteer for the Common Ground Country Fair. Danya died from cancer in May. Last fall, she told us about her trip to the 2011 Fair: “It took both my sisters to make it happen. They had to deal with my wheelchair, oxygen, and a reclining chair that was quite heavy, just so I could be there … The cookoff-throwdown was particularly fun – got to see the people I volunteer with in the kitchen. It was like 1998 when I first arrived and saw all the tents, etc. Just magical. This time I arrived by wheelchair van rather than walking through the woods but it was still wonderful.” We will miss you, Danya.

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