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MOF&G Cover Winter 2012-2013

  You are here:  PublicationsMaine Organic Farmer & GardenerWinter 2012-2013MOFGA Notes - Winter 12-13   
 MOFGA Notes – Winter 2012-2013 Minimize


Donor Profile
Staff Profile – John Chartier
Congratulations …
MOFGA Hosts Salvadoran Delegation
Empathy Workshop to Benefit MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee
Farm and Homestead Day at MOFGA, 2013

Ryan and Westphal
Patty Ryan and David Westphal. Photo by Chris Hamilton.


Donor Profile

We Give to MOFGA for Our Grandchildren

Ardent MOFGA supporters Patty Ryan and David Westphal of Mount Desert have been coming to the Common Ground Country Fair with their extended families since their 1993 marriage.

Since the late ‘70s, camping out and attending the Fair all three days had been a favorite fall adventure in Ryan's family.

"My friend Reva and I would pack up all the children, the camping gear, stacks of cloth diapers (the norm then) and our stake-bed Radio Flyer wagon into the old VW bus and head for the Fair. We would pitch the tents late Thursday under trees and read the Fairbook by candlelight – liberally circling all the activities we wanted to see,” Ryan said while attending the 2012 Fair.

“It's been so gratifying to watch our families grow up with the MOFGA spirit!"

Joining Ryan’s household, Westphal embraced the annual tradition. He brought his own wealth of organic farming knowledge.

"When times were hard in the ‘30s, as a young boy I often worked on the neighboring farm walking behind a horse-drawn cultivator."

When MOFGA created its Bread and Butter Society offering donors the opportunity to support a day or more of its operations, Ryan and Westphal were quick to join.

"Supporting MOFGA supports training young farmers and gardeners,” said Westphal. “These are people at the forefront of building a better future. When we care for the land, we end up caring for each other." Ryan and Westphal chose to support September 28 annually, their wedding anniversary.

“We give to MOFGA for our grandchildren,” said Ryan. “We do not have a large estate, but we save money every year to donate to this amazing organization. It seems these days people often feel disenfranchised and powerless to make change – with MOFGA, your gifts really make a difference. Through example and education, MOFGA provides the foundation for creating a better world, a more sustainable planet. It starts at home!"

Ryan compared supporting MOFGA with watering and nourishing a tree. “You need to start at the roots – and that is where MOFGA is working. We are so happy and grateful to do our part in helping MOFGA build a better world. It gives us hope.”

For information about supporting MOFGA through a donation or in your estate plan, please go to www.mofga.org or call Chris Hamilton, MOFGA’s associate director, at 207-568-4142.

John Chartier
John Chartier visiting King Hill Farm during a Farm Training Project tour. English photo.

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Staff Profile – John Chartier

John Chartier, MOFGA’s agricultural specialist for Aroostook County, grew up on a mixed crop and livestock farm in Kansas.

“I grew up knowing what it is like to go to bed with the satisfaction of being completely spent doing something I love, and to know that after a little rest I will be excited to do it again the next day.”

Before coming to MOFGA, Chartier ran Farm Camp for Frost Valley YMCA in the Catskills of New York for three years. He oversaw and led all operations, including a 2-acre organic garden, a kitchen using mostly meats and veggies raised on site, a zoo worth of farm animals, a nursing staff, and 15 camp counselors who cared for and educated the 56 kids who lived at Farm Camp in the summer.

John and his wife, Amy, worked on the Goranson Farm in Dresden, Maine, in 2006, the year after they hiked the Appalachian Trail. They are now developing a farm on Happy Corner Road near Patten.

Chartier joined MOFGA in May 2011.

Q. Your role with MOFGA is to provide a “one stop shop” where northern Maine farmers and gardeners can get information about organic practices and MOFGA services. How is that going?  

A. The easy answer is "never boring!” Progress is being made on many fronts. A lot of my time and energy is focused on new/transitioning farmers and helping to develop the infrastructure needed to give farmers more options to market their products.    

Q. What organic crop or crops do you think have the greatest potential for northern Maine growers?  

A. Cool season vegetables do amazing here and taste better than from anywhere else I've lived. I think the combination of a very rich mineral base in the soil as well as our limited number of hot days make for a world-class eating experience from our carrots, beets, broccoli, peas, lettuce and, of course, potatoes. Cereal grains work very well here, and when the infrastructure gets in place to be able to get those grains into their best markets, I think we will see a significant production jump. Grass and forages also do very well; this area could specialize in certified-organic grass-fed beef and lamb.

Q. What are the greatest obstacles to successful organic farming in and around The County?  

A. I think for gardeners and back-to-the-landers, it would be tough to find a better place to be. With all of the season extension techniques available now, there is no reason that people who want to live that lifestyle cannot do it here. It gets a little trickier for people who want to make a substantial part of their income from farming here. The reality is that the local market in the county can be saturated with just about any premium product from one producer. This means that products have to leave the county. Once the product is a little farther from home, the opportunity is in finding ways to get our goods to market at a price point where a lot of people say, "Yeah, gimme some of that.”  For example, MOO Milk has a great product and a great story, but to get to a substantial market that is willing to purchase the milk at a price that keeps their dairies alive, they have needed to move outside Maine. They have been fortunate to have very patient investors who have stuck with them while the market is developed.  

Q. What has surprised or excited you most about northern Maine and/or your job?  

A. Two things have really surprised me. The first is how amazing of a place "The County" is. I'm blessed to be able to raise my family here. The second is that a potato can literally be mouthwatering. I grew up with industrial Idaho's, and in my opinion it is really a shame that those get to be called potatoes.  

Q. How can farmers and gardeners contact you?

A. My e-mail address is jchartier@mofga.org and my phone number is (207) 521-1200.

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Congratulations …

and thanks to Don Hoenig, who retired as Maine State Veterinarian in August 2012, a post he held since 1986. Says MOFGA’s Diane Schivera, “The assistance you have given farmers over the years was so useful for improving the well being of Maine livestock. You will be greatly missed. We hope you enjoy the new job!”

to Tristan Plumb, MOFGA’s IT consultant, and Chelsea Cartwright on the birth of Sylvan Cartwright-Plumb in October 2012.

Allison Bates
Allison Bates. Photo courtesy of Organic Valley.

to Allison Bates of New Vineyard, Maine, for having been selected to attend Organic Valley’s 2012 Generation Organic™ “Who's Your Farmer?” Tour. The three-week trip included Organic Valley farmers ages 18 to 35 who represent the next generation of sustainable agriculture leaders and who believe in the power of organic to change the world. It started in September at Organic Valley’s headquarters in La Farge, Wisconsin, and then journeyed through the heart of the Midwest, stopping at college campuses, farmers’ markets, farms, food co-ops and more, to educate and encourage consumers to get to know the people who produce their food. Allison and her parents milk 35 cows on 550 acres. Allison also makes organic goat cheese from her goats’ milk, fishes with her uncle on his lobster boat, and cooks.

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MOFGA Hosts Salvadoran Delegation

On October 16, 2012, MOFGA hosted a lunch-time visit with three representatives from the U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities (USESSC) Network: Alex Early, coordinator for USESSC; Zulma Hernandez, a dynamic young Salvadoran organizer with years of experience in youth, political and women’s organizing, representing the Association for the Development of El Salvador; and Estela Garcia, coordinator for USESSC.

Some MOFGA staff and representatives from the MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee heard from Hernandez about community organizing, efforts to counter mineral mining and militarization in El Salvador, and immigration issues. After lunch the group went to Unity College to talk with students in Nancy Ross’ class about these issues.

Some of the group also toured the MOFGA-certified organic Happy Town Farm; visited WERU; and held a presentation at PICA in Bangor, which included Nick Bennett from the Natural Resources Council of Maine and Chris Buchanan of Stop the East-West Corridor, discussing the relationship between mining and road construction.

El Salvador delegation

Shown in the photo at MOFGA are, left to right, Chris Hamilton, Heather Spalding, Jaco Schravesande-Gardei, Alex Early, Jean English, Vernon LeCount, Zulma Hernandez, Willie Marquart, Estela Garcia and Karen Volckhausen.

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Empathy Workshop to Benefit MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee

On Jan. 26 (snow date Jan. 27) from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Peggy Smith, Nonviolent Communication trainer, will offer an Empathy Workshop as a fundraiser for the MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee at MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center in Unity. This $85 value is offered by donation, with lunch provided. The workshop will focus on profound and total listening that does not look to judge or influence the other or the quality of what is being said; on listening deeply to the real needs of the speaker while temporarily removing one’s own ego from the relationship with the speaker. Developing empathy helps us connect with ourselves, others and our communities. Shifting our relationship to conflict by developing our empathy skills is vital to long-term sustainable relationships and communities. To register, please complete and mail the following form.

 

Name___________________________________________________________________

(I understand that this course meets on Saturday, January 26, 2013.)

Address_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Phone _____________________Email _______________________________________

I understand this is a fundraising event. I am enclosing a check for _______ as my donation. This day is a $85 value. Please make as generous a donation as you can to support this life sustaining work.

Please make checks payable to Open Communication and mail to Peggy Smith, 2807 Atlantic Hwy, Lincolnville, ME 04849. Contact Peggy for more information at 789­5299 or peggy@opencommunication.org.

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Farm and Homestead Day at MOFGA, 2013

So many people asked, “Whatever happened to Small Farm Field Day?” that a group of dedicated volunteers resurrected the event as Farm and Homestead Day at MOFGA. The emphasis is on teaching rural living skills through a variety of hands-on activities. The first F&H Day, on June 16, 2012, was an encouraging success. The 2013 event will be held on Saturday, June 15, 2013.

While incorporating many successful aspects from previous years, F&H Day added new features, such as sequential workshops to develop a progression of skills throughout the day, and a lunchtime panel discussion. Examples included a series of workshops on poultry, from incubation, through pasturing, to butchering and then cooking. Workshops on medicinal and culinary herbs, foraging walks and various hands-on farmstead building projects were also held.

Farm and Homestead Day at MOFGA is a volunteer driven, skill-share event with its own steering committee, so volunteers are needed to share their skills, ideas and energies. If you are interested in volunteering in any capacity or have ideas and thoughts about the event, please contact the Farm and Homestead Day Rabble at farmandhomesteadday@myfairpoint.net or contact Joe Dupere at jdupere@mofga.org.

– Joe Dupere

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