|Carding Brook Farm. Lamb photo.
Carding Brook Farm: Cultivating a New Niche on an Old Farm
By Jane Lamb
Picture a classic Federal country house on a saltwater farm bordering a tidal river, horses working the fields beyond a tree-shaded brook, sheep browsing in the orchard, hens cackling, geese honking, a friendly black Lab greeting arrivals. You’re back in the nineteenth century hobnobbing with contemporaries of Thoreau and Emerson in a bucolic, Currier and Ives calendar original.
Are Organic Foods Really More Expensive?
By Debbie Ortman
It’s time to dispel the myth that organically grown food is more expensive than that grown conventionally (which includes the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers). As an organic consumer and gardener, I have consistently heard others make this statement when I am extolling the virtues of eating organic food. For some food items this statement is true, but for many more it is not.
Variations on The Good Life
By Joyce White
Where did all the hippies go? What happened to those earnest young people who moved into Maine’s hinterlands years ago to forge simpler, healthier lives, lives that would be more harmonious and environmentally sound than those they left behind? To what degree have they been able to live by their ideals? In an effort to answer these questions, I interviewed members of four households in the Oxford Hills area of Western Maine.
In Tune with Organic at Meadowsweet Farm
By Jean English
Lee Humphreys’ and Ib Barfod’s Meadowsweet Farm on Finntown Road in Warren could just as well be called Renaissance Farm, for they have excelled at music and environmental education (Lee); engineering (Ib); community activism, farming and parenting (both). Add woodworking to Lee’s list … and we can even talk about the ghost that inhabits their home.
Keynote Talks at the 2001 Common Ground Country Fair
Dr. Vandana Shiva – God Bless the Earth
For me this is truly a journey for peace. I undertook it in spite of everyone worrying – about taking a flight, coming to this country at this point of history. But that’s precisely why I got onto the flight, because if you give up hope, what chance is there for peace? But it’s also my tribute to all of you who built this amazing movement here out of a peace movement. After all, those of you who came to Maine, built the organic movement, did it as an extension of fighting in a peaceful way against a war mentality. And my own work in agriculture and food, to build peaceful systems, organic systems, nonviolent systems, is related to my own rejection of violent methods, whether it is for politics, for technology or for the way we grow our food.
Penobscot Chief Barry Dana – Viewing Nature Through Native Eyes
Barry Dana, Chief of the Penobscot Nation, grew up on Indian Island in the Penobscot River. A long-time participant at Common Ground Country Fair, he was a keynote speaker there this year. While growing up, “for some reason I liked being in the company of elders,” says Dana, and thus he learned about canoeing, basket making, snowshoe making, hunting, gathering plants, and other Native traditions. “It was really great growing up where I was connected to my culture,” he says.
Ronnie Dugger – Dugger on Democracy
On Friday, Sept. 21, Ronnie Dugger, founder of the Alliance for Democracy, addressed a crowd of Common Ground fairgoers. His address was moved inside the Exhibition Hall because rain threatened outside. For over an hour, the large group of listeners stood among the glorious display of fruits, vegetables and crafts and listened as Dugger told how to return the United States to a democracy. Doris “Granny D” Haddock of Dublin, N.H., the tough old soul who walked across the country to promote campaign finance reform when she was 89 years old (she’s now 91), stood with him.
Diversification & Integration Produce a Healthy Berle Farm
By Tim King
Diversity in its crop rotation, livestock operation, and marketing efforts are the hallmarks of Berle Farm. The farm is on 500 OCIA (Organic Crop Improvement Association) -certified organic acres near Hoosick, New York, and is operated by Beatrice Berle and her partner Jim. Alongside diversity, Beatrice and Jim place an underlying concern for the health of the land and of the farm’s livestock. Farming at Berle Farm is not merely about production.
Frank & Cyrene Slegona – Growing All They Eat
By Jane Day
Frank and Cyrene Slegona arrived in Maine with their three asthmatic children in the midst of a snowstorm in February, 1951. They had just bought the 93-acre farm with its 170-year-old house and sweeping view of Levenseller Mountain in Lincolnville. It was the best of both worlds for them. The air was cleaner than South Jersey’s for their youngsters, and Frank was once again on a farm.
Seed Crops in the Northeast: Brassicas
By Nicolas Lindholm
Supported primarily through a grant from the Maine Dept. of Agriculture, this is the fourth in a series of five articles covering some of the most commonly produced and potentially profitable seed crops being grown by small-scale organic and biodynamic farmers in the Northeast. Our culture uses many varieties and types of plants within the brassica family, from broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and radishes, to old-time favorites such as turnip and rutabaga, to contemporary favorites such as arugula and many of the Asian greens that are common in mesclun mixes (such as tot soi and mizuna).
By Deb Soule
Verbena hastata was an important remedy for the Eastern Woodland Indians. They used the flowering tops, roots and seeds for a variety of conditions and were willing to teach the old doctors of its benefits. Today, many herbalists gather the flowers and top leaves and tincture them fresh and dry some for tea. The only contraindication for this plant is to avoid during pregnancy.
Grow Your Own: Cherries
By Roberta Bailey
One of the first trees I planted on my farm was a cherry tree, a ‘Bali’ sour cherry. Cherries, sweet and sour, are so beautiful; their shape; their deep wine-brown, shiny bark; their clouds of delicate pink blossoms in spring; and most of all, their fruit, pendulous red or golden jewels that are among the earliest tree fruit to ripen in the North.
Harvest Kitchen: Soup for All Seasons
By Roberta Bailey
Every season has its soups. In summer, soup is light, often fruity or chilled. Autumn brings us corn and tomatoes and minestrone. In winter, soup is at its best; slowly cooked beans and grains and root vegetables offer warmth and satisfaction. And spring is a fickle time, one day a dark onion soup using up the soft, sprouted onions; a week later, a bright asparagus purée.
Benefits of Raising Animals on Pasture
By Diane Schivera
Eating livestock products can benefit our health and the environment, particularly when the animals are raised eating a pasture-based diet. More and more research is establishing this viewpoint. At MOFGA’s Spring Growth Conference last March, Joel Salatin from Polyface Farm in Virginia addressed these benefits as well as the profitability of raising animals on pasture.
What Does “Organic” Mean Now?
By Eric Sideman
Beginning in October of 2002, the word “organic” will have a different meaning than it does now. It will mean the same thing in every state of the United States, which is important to interstate trade and perhaps to supermarket customers’ confidence. But that meaning will bring some changes in organic standards for farmers wishing to call their products organic, and some of those changes may be unwelcome.
Marketing Page: Confessions of a Reluctant Marketer
By Ron Poitras
OK, here we go – gear up – one more logo, another brochure, and remember: bold captions, short, pithy phrases. Prepare your piece of good design to float as high as possible in that chaotic ocean of mediaspace. So much doubt in the process! Does anyone read this stuff anymore? Thousands of commercial messages per day are now being discharged into the average American brain. What chance does your little brochure have? There must be a better way!
Tips & Tidbits
A Vegetable Gardening System
Extension Fact Sheets on the Web
Organic Ingredients Online
By Jaylene Kerr Summers
Coffee Growers in Nicaragua Using Photovoltaics, by Richard Komp
By Russell Libby, MOFGA Executive Director
Two months have past since September 11, as I write this, and we’re all struggling with the repercussions. For me, the tragedy and the aftermath have been both disheartening and clarifying. … Yet the events of the past two months have, perhaps, provided a clearer picture of the place where we, as gardeners and farmers and people who want to eat good food and to make sure that everyone eats, can make a difference, a difference that might eventually transform the underlying system. That place is food security.
A Dream to End Greed
By Jean English, Editor, The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener
Oscar Arias, former president of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace Prize winner, has said that “overcoming poverty, inequality, greed, and cynicism will be the great human challenges of the twenty-first century.” Can you imagine a world without poverty, inequality, greed and cynicism? I think it would look something like the Common Ground Country Fair.
The End of the Campaign is in Sight
By Eric Rector, 2001 MOFGA President
MOFGA has just successfully completed its 25th Anniversary Common Ground Country Fair, the fourth fair that has been held at our magnificent new permanent Common Ground in Unity, Maine. I want to thank our membership for their generous gifts to the Capital Campaign that made Common Ground, a year-round learning center for organic agriculture, possible.
Interior Department at Odds Over Biotech Policy
By Sharon Tisher
Little did we know that in the waning weeks of the Clinton administration, Bruce Babbitt’s Interior Department was championing our concerns over biotech risks. In a low profile but definitely high stakes move, the agency in charge of federal lands broke rank from the lockstep complacency of the rest of administration over the future of biotech and the adequacy of federal oversight.
Dragonflies and Pepper Pods: Turning Around Agricultural Metaphors
By Mitch Lansky
A story about Basho (Japanese Haiku poet from the late 1600s) illustrates a problem with Western approaches to nature. Basho was out riding with one of his pupils when the pupil got very excited about an idea for a poem, which he shared with Basho: “A red dragonfly; If you would but pluck its wings – Look, a pepper pod!“
By Joyce White
My neighbor has been converting her blueberry field to a lawn, giving her some 7 acres of grass to mow instead of 2 or 3 – and eliminating the wild blueberries, the tasty and nutritious gift that Nature gave to humans and wildlife alike.
Reviews & Resources
A Citizen’s Guide to Fighting Food Irradiation, Public Citizen Foundation
Accessible Gardening, by Joann Woy
Building Soils for Better Crops (2nd Edition), by Fred Magdoff and Harold van Es
The Maine Mulch Murder, by A. Carman Clark