Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener – Spring 2019

Publications \ The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener \ Spring 2019

Barbara (left) and Mort Mather
Patty Manson with baskets of peas
Amy LeBlanc's photo of Pakaraka, a WWOOF farm in New Zealand
Lois Labbe (left) and Tom Roberts of Snakeroot Organic Farm in Pittsfield

Organic Matter – Food and Agricultural News

Deep MOFGA Roots at Mathers’ Easter Orchard Farm
By Jean English
Like a good crop rotation, Mort and Barbara Mather of Easter Orchard Farm in Wells have had a number of enriching careers and successes, and they have nurtured several groups – including MOFGA – along the way. Among the earliest careers in Maine was the 1-acre market garden that Mort cultivated. Now, some five decades later, he is back to farming that acre with the accumulated knowledge of many years and with a steady market: Joshua’s Restaurant and Bar in Wells, owned by Mort and Barbara and their son.

Sharing the Harvest – A Family CSA and Homestead
By Emily Horton
Those who knows my mother, Patty Manson, know that she is one of the most talented and hardworking people around. Working more than 60 hours a week at her two jobs, late evenings are often the only time she has to can or freeze foods from her homestead or clean the cow barn – after other chores have been done and the garden has been watered.

Worldwide Agricultural Travel Through IFOAM and WWOOFing
By Amy LeBlanc
If you had asked me 20 years ago if I would be traveling, and traveling alone all over the world, and WWOOFing, I would definitely have told you that you were nuts!

Hay Mulch and Other Low-tech Adaptations for Home Gardens
By Joyce White
My garden area in Stoneham’s stony foothills is ringed with trees, mostly ash and maple, that have grown very tall during the 21 years I’ve lived here. Their roots have grown very long, too, reaching beneath the soil of the whole garden area.

An Inexpensive Low Tunnel Season Extender
By Ben Hoffman
My garden area was once the site of a farmhand’s trailer and was landscaped with coarse gravel over a stony loam soil. No matter where or how you dig, you hit rocks, some up to 6 inches long. So I use raised beds filled with a mix of soil, compost and animal manure. They are very productive and have had additions of soil mix each year and several winter covers of vetch or clover.

Snakeroot Farm: Success Through Farmers’ Markets and a Debit-style CSA
By Jean English
Tom Roberts and Lois Labbe of Snakeroot Organic Farm in Pittsfield were the “farmers in the spotlight” at MOFGA’s 2018 Farmer to Farmer Conference. Sam Gerry, who works at Snakeroot, joined them.

Maine AgrAbility: Addressing Health and Safety for Farmers, Fishermen and Forest Workers
By Ellen S. Gibson
Many would perceive that farmers are healthy individuals. After all, they work in the great outdoors with plants and animals, they are physically active, they are their own bosses. Yet farming is one of the most hazardous occupations, often involving large machinery, skittery animals and rough terrain. Farming is hard physical work.

A Precautionarily Principled Tale from the Wild West of CBD Hemp
By Ben Rooney
This article is not a primer on CBD (cannabidiol) hemp cultivation, benefits or medicine-making but offers my impressions and experiences on a new landscape of cannabis production and marketing.

Cut Flower Production in Maine
By Jean English
This session at MOFGA’s 2018 Farmer to Farmer Conference featured three growers at different stages in their farm businesses: Stacy Brenner of Broadturn Farm in Scarborough, Carole Mapes of Flywheel Flowers in Unity and Karen Volckhausen of Happy Town Farm in Orland.

Grassland Improvement for Gardeners
By Will Bonsall
The only people who need to care about grasslands are those who keep livestock, right? Wrong! Anyone who cares about sustainable, self-reliant soil maintenance, whether on many acres or in a postage-stamp-sized backyard garden, should care a lot about grassland, because along with forests, that's how Mother Nature builds and sustains soil tilth – not with animal manure, which represents a net loss to the system.

Maine Board of Pesticides Control 2018 Recap
By Heather Spalding and Jean English
In 2018 the Maine Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) discussed local pesticide ordinances, use of drones to apply pesticides, and board member responsibilities, as well as the usual business of granting variances and special registrations for pesticide uses, levying fines for violators of pesticides rules, elucidating difficulties in tracking pesticide use in Maine, and more.

35 Years of Harvest Kitchen
By Roberta Bailey
Happy Anniversary to me! This spring marks the 35th anniversary of my time writing this column. My entire adult life has evolved around the full flavors of homegrown food straight from the garden, pantry and root cellar. I have never thought of myself as a fancy cook. Instead, I feature fresh flavors and herbs and let the vegetables bedazzle the eater. Harvest Kitchen has always celebrated these simple palate-dazzling basics.

NOP, MCS, ACA ... Such a Puzzle! PDF
By Jaco Schravesande-Gardei, MOFGA Certification Services LLC
Like so many businesses, organic certification uses a lot of acronyms and jargon. We constantly use this language in the MOFGA Certification Services office. Familiarity with these common terms and other aspects of organic certification can help producers, marketers and consumers further the goal of increasing the availability and use of organic products. We hope this crossword puzzle helps you test your knowledge and fills in any gaps – and entertains you.

The Sweet Spot
By Jacki Martinez Perkins
The dairy industry has found itself in the same position that many small businesses encountered during the past few decades. Small farms are being driven out of business by the natural progression of capitalism. Large-scale dairies can operate at lower costs per cow, negotiate their price points and own the capital that lending establishments require to take them seriously.

Spotted Lanternfly – A Pest on the Horizon
By C.J. Walke
As winter rolls into spring, work in the orchard transitions from pruning and scionwood gathering to preparations for the warming soil and for that first shine of green tissue as buds move from silver tip to green tip or swollen bud to bud burst. At this time of year, MOFGA’s organic orcharding classes are in full swing, and various educational workshops on pruning, grafting and orchard care are offered around the state. This is also the time of year to be prepared for the arrival of orchard pests looking to call your orchard home and your fruit their nursery.

Passing the Baton
By John Bunker
Not everyone knows that when you start an apple tree from a seed, it will never come true to type. If you plant a ‘McIntosh’ seed and wait about 10 years, your new tree will produce fruit, and the fruit might be delicious, but it won’t be ‘McIntosh’. Not only that, it won’t be ‘Cortland’ or ‘Honeycrisp’ or ‘Macoun’ or ‘Northern Spy’ or any other apple that’s ever been.

10 Q&A’s About Emerald Ash Borer
By Hannah Murray, Low-impact Forestry Specialist, MOFGA
By now you have likely heard about a new arrival in town: the emerald ash borer (EAB), a non-native beetle that has been munching its way through the nation’s ash trees (Fraxinus species). It was first detected in Maine in June 2018 with an infestation in northern Aroostook County (along the border with Quebec), followed by detection in western York County (along the New Hampshire border) last fall. What does its arrival mean for the fate of Maine’s 100 million native ash trees? Here are some answers to common questions, plus resources to help you decide what to do with the ash in your backyard.

Spinach Downy Mildew – A Growing Winter Problem for the Northeast?
By Caleb Goossen, Ph.D.
Winter-grown greens have increased dramatically in popularity, and subsequently in ubiquity, over the past couple of decades. We are miles beyond the era of my grandmother’s childhood in northern Vermont, where the “hungry period” set in during the end of winter and the beginning of spring, as the supply of stored food in the root cellar was emptying out, and the garden was not yet productive.                                                                                                                                 

Generous Bequest Will Train Future Generations
By Chris Hamilton, MOFGA Associate Director
Paul Birdsall of Horsepower Farm in Penobscot was a thoughtful and caring leader in Maine’s agriculture community. For decades he played a central role at the Common Ground Country Fair, where he gave demonstrations and wagon rides with his draft horses, inspiring hundreds of fairgoers. He and his wife, Mollie, also hosted more than 150 apprentices on their farm. Sadly, Paul died last summer at age 91.

Scythes and Sickles for Lefties
Questions MOFGA’s Investments
MOFGA Responds


Growing MOFGA
By Sarah Alexander, MOFGA Executive Director
As we emerge from the darkest, coldest parts of winter and squint to see spring on the horizon, it’s a good time to take stock of where we are and to look forward to the coming season of growth and rebirth.   

In with the Old, in with the New
By Jean English, Editor, The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener
This issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener resembles a well-tended organic soil. It features some of our venerable veteran MOFGA members and MOF&G contributors who continue to sustain our organization the way long-lasting, resistant organic matter helps sustain a healthy soil. At the same time, our younger contributors and staff members offer fresh, new, rich sources of nourishment.

Reviews and Resources
Growing Heirloom Flowers: Bring the Vintage Beauty of Heritage Bloom to Your Modern Garden
The Flower Expert
Seaweed Chronicles: A World at the Water's Edge
101 Chicken Keeping Hacks
The Rodale Book of Composting
From the Earth: World’s Great, Rare and Almost Forgotten Vegetables
Farming for the Long Haul – Resilience and the Lost Art of Agricultural Inventiveness
Profit from Your Forest videos
Build-A-Lease Tool by Land for Good