Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener – Spring 2018

Publications \ The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener \ Spring 2018

Theresa and Tom Gaffney


Ron Harwood's tubular composter

Karen and Paul Volckhausen

Organic Matter – Food and Agricultural News

Highland Organics: The Rewards of Value-Added, Organic Blueberry Products
By Jean English
Theresa Gaffney is the queen of value-added, both for her blueberry crop, her business and her farmscape. Tom and Theresa Gaffney own MOFGA-certified organic Highland Blueberry Farm and Highland Organics, Inc., in Stockton Springs, Maine. Tom and his late wife, Gretchen, bought the land in 1988. Theresa and Tom later married and together raised Theresa’s son and two daughters and Tom’s two sons there. 

Leeks – The Ultimate Comfort Food
By Will Bonsall
Some academic friends of mine were on sabbatical in southern France when their checks failed to arrive as expected. Weeks went by before the mistake was corrected, during which time they were on their own, making shift as one might. They found an abundance of wild leeks in the neighborhood and subsisted largely on them for a while. They later told us that story as proof of how dire their situation was, but given my feelings about leeks, I confess my sympathy was rather half-hearted. 

Biological Restoration in the Forest: Let's Plant Some Trees!
By Stephen J. Barr, M.D.
Perhaps you have some woods behind your house, or perhaps you're fortunate and have a fair amount of land. Maybe you're a member of a local land trust and would like to volunteer your energy toward forest restoration.

Earth Mother, Goddess of Nature – The Power of Cooperation Versus Domination
By Joyce White
In her 1987 book “The Chalice and the Blade,” Riane Eisler shows us a culture that existed for thousands of years, in which the inhabitants enjoyed peace, prosperity, cooperation, and equality between men and women. She calls that a partnership model of society, represented by the chalice; its opposite (the one we are most familiar with) is represented by the blade.

In Harmony with the Land: Ron and Melissa Harwood of Maple Lawn Farm
By Ellen S. Gibson
Maine AgrAbility staff attends various events throughout the year to further its mission to help farmers, members of farm families and farm workers overcome pain, injury or disability so that they can continue to work safely and productively. In late September we are in the Ag Demo Tent at the Common Ground Fair. That's where we first met Ron Harwood, who stopped by our booth with his beautiful black lab service dog, Luke. Luke is one of the few dogs allowed at the fair, because he helps Ron keep track of where he is going. 

2017 Farmer to Farmer Conference

Farmers in the Spotlight: Paul and Karen Volckhausen of Happy Town Farm
Paul and Karen Volckhausen were the “farmers in the spotlight” at MOFGA’s 2017 Farmer to Farmer Conference. Both suburban kids originally, they learned about farming through trial and error – and from MOFGA – when they rented a farmhouse and 100 acres in Surry, Maine. There they cultivated a big garden and raised sheep, ducks, hens and rabbits, growing a lot of what they ate.

Family Farmers in a Changing Organic World
As organic foods gain an ever wider audience and consumer base, family farmers find themselves in a challenging position. In the United States, organic has grown from a back-to-the-land movement into a $47 billion per year industry. What does that mean for smaller-scale farmers? At MOFGA’s 2017 Farmer to Farmer Conference, Emily Oakley shared her experiences as a full-time organic farmer in Oklahoma, how that shapes her role as a producer-representative on the USDA National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), and why it matters that growers get and stay certified, get counted and advocate for standards they believe in.

Capturing Farm Sales on the Web
At MOFGA’s 2017 Farmer to Farmer Conference, participants learned about expanding their markets through online sales from Simon Frost of Thirty Acre Farm in Whitefield, Jim Gerritsen of Wood Prairie Family Farm in Bridgewater and Theresa Gaffney of Highland Blueberry Farm and Highland Organics in Stockton Springs.

Optimizing Yields of Maine Wild Blueberries
At MOFGA’s 2017 Farmer to Farmer Conference,  David Yarborough, wild blueberry specialist with UMaine Cooperative Extension, and Nicolas Lindholm of MOFGA-certified organic Blue Hill Berry Company discussed factors affecting blueberry yields.

Marketing Organic Blueberries
At MOFGA’s 2017 Farmer to Farmer Conference, Nicolas Lindholm, Todd Merrill and Theresa Gaffney talked about marketing organic blueberries. Gaffney’s information is included in the features about Highland Organics and about online marketing in this issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

Maine Board of Pesticides Control 2017 Recap
By Jean English and Heather Spalding 
The Maine Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) addressed a new topic in 2017: the use of drones to apply pesticides. Beyond that, most of the meetings covered business as usual: granting variances and special registrations for pesticide uses, levying minimal fines for violators of pesticides rules, elucidating difficulties in tracking pesticide use in Maine, discussing budgets and more. The board canceled meetings scheduled for August, September and December, citing lack of business to discuss. 

Maine Peaches
By C.J. Walke
You can grow peaches in Maine? I tend to hear that question when giving organic growing presentations to new organic gardeners or when talking with beginning farmers interested in diversifying their vegetable operation by adding fruit trees. Most are excited to hear that peaches are an option for Maine farms and gardens.

Maine Heritage Orchard: A Fruitful Spring: Scion Exchange, Grafting, Planting and New Apple Books
By John Bunker
The Maine Heritage Orchard at MOFGA is beginning to wake up after a winter of huddling under ice and snow. Meanwhile the heritage orchard crew was out pruning and traveling the Maine countryside, collecting scionwood for spring grafting. As winter waves its final goodbye, we’ll gather on the last Sunday in March for MOFGA’s Seed Swap and Scion Exchange.

Harvest Kitchen: Blueberries – Stores of Summer’s Energy
By Roberta Bailey
In a few of the essays in her collection “The Faraway Nearby,” Rebecca Solnit explores the long cycles of light and darkness in Iceland. I was particularly struck by her thought that when we live through cycles of long winters or seasonal darkness, we hold the summer sun and the return of the light within us. It brought to mind a bear storing fat for hibernation. It brought to mind the seasonal cycles of Maine life. I liked the concept of storing or holding summer’s energy in our minds, so that we make it through to the next spring. 

Forestry As If the Climate Matters
By Peter Hagerty, Low Impact Forestry Project
About 20 years ago a group of friends and I began a series of courses on a new form of logging. The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association supported our effort with classrooms and a woodlot. Since then over 1,000 students have attended Low Impact Forestry (LIF) courses in chainsaw safety and draft and mechanical methods of log extractions.

Preserving the Organic Identity
By Eric Sideman, Ph.D.
Can you imagine losing your identity through no fault of your own? We all have an image of ourselves and identify with a group or a place in society. Sometimes one word can evoke that image. “Organic” was one of those words. Lots of us imaged ourselves as organic farmers or gardeners. Few of us have changed our image, but the word "organic" is being changed into a marketing slogan with a much diminished image.

MOFGA Certification Services 2017 Year in Review
By Chris Grigsby, MOFGA Certification Services LLC Director     
MOFGA Certification Services (MCS) continued to see steady growth in 2017. We certified 49 new applicants, bringing our year-end total of MOFGA-certified operations to 536 and over 88,000 acres.

Ployes Need a Hot Skillet


Go Organic, Whack a Hydra
By Jean English
Several years ago, Russell Libby, our executive director at the time, noted that if we continued to review and regulate toxic chemicals one at a time, we’d never get the job done.  Maybe “never” was a stretch. Jonathan Latham of Independent Science News now says that forcing the withdrawal of individual “bad actor” synthetic chemicals from the market is successful occasionally (e.g., with DDT and lindane), but that the process will take approximately until A.D. 1 million to address the 70,000 to 100,000 manmade chemicals on the market – if no new products are added during that time and if removing an individual product takes only 10 years.

It’s Time to De-cide!
By Ben Hoffman
Before humans occupied the planet, plants and animals thrived in a balanced ecosystem, but that has changed for the worse, and now humans want to plunder other planets.  Maybe we should first clean up our act and get this planet back on an even keel.

Reviews & Resources
The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables
Fiery Ferments
Medicinal and Other Uses of North American Plants
The Suburban Micro-farm
The Creative Family Manifesto
In Case of Drift
Harvesting Opportunity
Unravelling the Food-Health Nexus


MOFGA Centerpieces Featured at Banquet

Staff Profile
Heather Omand – Organic Marketing and Business Specialist

Staff Changes at MOFGA:
Marta Laszkiewicz
Eric Buch
Ted Quaday
Sam Vail

Wood Prairie Family Farm
Johnny's Selected Seeds

Robert Sullivan
Les Hyde

Volunteer Profile
Sari Lindauer

Coming Events

• Spring Growth Conference on Seedling Production

• Seed Swap and Scion Exchange

• MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee Empty Bowl Supper

• Experience the Joy of Learning by Doing at Farm & Homestead Day at MOFGA

Common Ground Country Fair

• Applications for Exhibitors and Presenters

• Start Planning for the Fair

• Join the Team and Make a Difference at Common Ground!