|Ararat Farm managers Emilia Carbone and Jed Beach with their son, Ray. Ararat Farms photo.
Ararat Farms: Inverting the Small Farm Market Model
By Holli Cederholm
Like many small- to mid-scale certified-organic vegetable farms, Ararat Farms in Lincolnville, Maine, aims to provide quality, healthy products to the surrounding community. Farm managers Emilia Carbone and Jed Beach have an additional goal: They want their produce to outshine the standard grocery store vegetables in terms of flavor, nutrient density and shelf life.
Chufa for Nutty Drinks, Porridge and More
By Will Bonsall
Many years ago I dabbled with a new crop I found in the novelty section of a seed catalog: chufa, or nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus). Doubting it would crop well in Maine, I planted some anyway. The results weren’t impressive: I got quite a few small, hard tubers that were less that half the size of those I planted. Still, they tasted promising once cleaned of all the grit, so I put them on my list of things to try again “someday.”
Downeast Farm to School Succeeding in Washington County
By Sharon Kiley Mack
In rural Washington County, more and more farmers are connecting with schools through Regina Grabrovac and the highly successful Downeast Farm to School program that serves Washington and Hancock Counties. “I believe Washington County is just on the tipping point,” says Grabrovac. “We have such potential here. And we have proof. In the late 1800s, we were exporting vegetables and apples out of Washington County to the Boston markets. At that time, there were 10,000 more people in Washington County than are living here now. They were all eating what they or their neighbors grew themselves, and still they had enough to export. So that tells me something about our potential.”
Rippling Waters Backyard Organics
Nonprofit brings bridges farming and education
By Stowell P. Watters
The Saco River surged with the last of the snowmelt when Richard Rudolph pulled into the driveway of his new home on River Road. The trip from Boston to the southern Maine town of Standish was a straight shot; a 2-1/2-hour weekender’s trail beneath budding maples and pines, frequented by other expats from the city: business folk with their fishing poles, families piled into station wagons, and Rudolph with his car packed to the hilt with trays of budding vegetables. The year was 1991 and he was sprouting tomatoes on a radiator in Roslindale, Massachusetts.
Marcus Terentius Varro Wrote The Old, Old Farmers’ Almanac
By John Koster
Marcus Terentius Varro wrote some 620 books, but only the nearest and dearest to his heart – Rerum Rusticarum Libri Tres, Three Books on Farming – survived in complete form. That's probably because enough people had one copied out to increase the odds of its survival into the age of the printing press.
By Cory Whitney
When Sir Albert Howard visited the farmers of India in the 1940s and brought back to the United Kingdom ideas about composting and other agricultural practices, he planted the seeds of a real agricultural revolution in the West. In the post-industrial hangover and in the wake of the Green Revolution, radical farmers, researchers and environmental activists in the United Kingdom and elsewhere followed these ideas and started pushing for safe farming practices. By the 1970s MOFGA and other groups had formed to focus on organic cultivation. Masanobu Fukuoka’s No Work Farming ideas, developed in Japan, strengthened this revolution.
The Garden Group as a Transition Town Initiative
By Hildie J. Lipson
The challenges we face, such as peak oil, climate change and economic crises, can be overwhelming to us as individuals. Here in Wayne, a few of us have been meeting to talk about joining the Transition Towns Movement, an initiative that seeks to build community resilience to mitigate converging global crises through home-grown, local and citizen-led education, action and planning. With such huge concerns about sustainability, we didn’t know exactly what to do that will make a difference and would get others interested in the idea.
Apple Tasting at Common Ground: Help Us Crown the Favorite
By John Bunker and Cammy Watts
‘Canadian Strawberry’. ‘Chestnut’. ‘Cox’s Orange Pippin’. ‘Liveland Raspberry’. What do all these fruits have in common? Amazingly they are all apples, and the only place you can taste them at the Common Ground Country Fair (or probably anywhere for that matter) is the Fedco tent. On Friday and Saturday afternoons, apple enthusiasts gather to taste these and other rare apples and to vote for their favorites. It’s a raucous event where devotees campaign for their favorites at such high volumes that neighboring tents have been known to complain about the noise.
The Ragtime, Sparkle-divine Peace Farm State of Mind
By Laurie Schreiber
“Well, here we are! This is it!” Masanobu Ikemiya declares in greeting, and then sets out on a tour of Peace Farm, the self-sustaining homestead he’s built with his wife, Tomoko, in Bar Harbor, Maine. Both are high-energy and cheerful. Masanobu is a take-charge guy. Dominating the narrative as Tomoko goes off with a basket to pick vegetables, he is delighted to show off low-maintenance technologies that help them grow almost all their own food for a diet of primarily raw and live foods, live off the grid, and maintain a life of harmony with the environment.
Hugelkultur Inspires Garden Bed in a Difficult Spot
By Bobbie Goodell
When I moved to my lovely old Maine house more than two years ago, I was attracted by the variety of ornamental shrubs and plants and impressed by the several tall old oaks and some younger pines surrounding it. But it was October, the leaves were mostly off the trees, and the south-facing backyard was sunny. Come next spring and summer – where was the sunny space? What to do with all the branches, twigs and leaves from those nice trees? That fall at the Common Ground Country Fair, I heard about hugelkultur and saw a demonstration mound that Jack Kertesz had built there from leg-sized logs, branches, corn stalks and other available organic matter.
Onion Thrips – How I Learned a Lesson in Pesticide Resistance
By Tom Vigue
Before 2002, I had seen the insect called thrips only under a microscope in entomology lab. Then in early July 2002, my onion crop was withering when the bulbs had just begun to size up, about as big as golf balls. On first inspection I had no idea what was going on. Closer inspection, with a hand lens, revealed thrips (Thrips tabaci), which I recognized with disbelief as I had never heard of thrips being a pest insect in Maine, except in greenhouses, and that is a different species.
Garlic, in Depth
MOFGA’s Spring Growth Conference in March 2013 featured David Stern of Rose Valley Farm in Rose, New York, a certified organic farm, followed by a panel of MOFGA growers. Stern is also president and co-founder of the Garlic Seed Foundation.
Tiny but Mighty – Native Bees are Big Part of Maine Blueberry Grower’s Pollination Plans
By Lynn Ascrizzi
Last summer blueberry grower Doug Van Horn launched a one-man agricultural experiment to boost pollination and production on a 15-acre organic wild blueberry field located at Twitchell Hill in Montville, Maine. Van Horn, who lives in nearby Freedom, has been tending the fields for roughly 35 years. But for a couple of seasons, his fields had not been producing well. “It got me to thinking about the whole pollination thing,” he said. So among a few other field improvements, he began a project to attract native pollinators, commonly referred to as mason bees.
Antibiotics in Organic Apples and Pears
By C.J. Walke
Since the inception of the National Organic Program (NOP) in 2002, the antibiotics tetracycline and streptomycin have been approved for use in apple and pear production to combat fire blight (Erwinia amylovora), a bacterial disease that affects the pome family. This is the only place in the NOP rule where antibiotics are allowed.
Sheep Best Management Practices
Developed by Richard Brzozowski, Extension educator, University of Maine Cooperative Extension; Diane Schivera, livestock specialist, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association; and Jean Noon, sheep producer, The Noon Family Sheep Farm, Springvale, Maine.
Green Manures and Cover Crops for Summer
By Eric Sideman
People often ask me, "What is the best green manure?” That sets me off on one of my favorite lectures. "There is no best green manure,” I begin, and go on to explain that green manures (cover crops) have many benefits, and farms and gardens have many windows of opportunity where they can fit. So the goal is to figure out which benefit is most important at that time, which green manure best offers that benefit while matching your window, and which also suits your equipment.
Harvest Kitchen: Purslane, It's Not Just a Weed Anymore
By Roberta Bailey
Last year was the first year that purslane started showing up in my garden. When I saw it my heart leapt with a little fear. All the voices of other gardeners complaining about this difficult weed rushed through my mind and I quickly hoed it. The second time I saw it, I remembered that it is a wild salad green.
New Book Is Superb Guide to Selling Wholesale
By Cheryl Wixson
The market demand for local and organic food is growing. In 1990, U.S. organic food sales were $1 billion; by 2011, they had grown to $31 billion. Certified-organic cropland has grown by 15 percent, and organic has been the fastest growing sector in the food industry since 1990.
Daytripping – Farms and Gardens to Visit This Summer
Toxicity of Bracken Fern
Spotted Wing Drosophila Study
Share Our Vision With Your Community
By Heather Spalding, Interim Executive Director
MOFGA members have many sources of information about organic farming and gardening. We connect with supporters through our weekly email bulletin, on Facebook, Twitter, forums on www.mofga.net, press releases, targeted online action alerts and, of course, through The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.
No, We Don’t Feel Good about Engineered Foods
By Jean English, Editor, The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener
Some 20 years ago, Robert Tardy, then a Maine state representative and now a lobbyist for the Biotechnology Industry Organization, testified before an agriculture committee hearing in opposition to labeling genetically engineered foods, saying, “You feel a lot better about your food if you are not reading a lot while you are eating it.” ‘Tain’t so.
Reviews & Resources
The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook
Hand-On Healing Remedies
The Encyclopedia of Country Living – 40th Anniversary Edition