Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Libby Editorial – Fitting the Pieces Together

Publications \ The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener \ Summer 2009 \ Libby – Summer 09


By Russell Libby, MOFGA Executive Director

It always takes a while to actually find out how bad things are in the “paper” economy, but we’re now somewhere around a year and a half into the current recession, at least the way it’s measured in official terms. But we can look at the long lines at food banks, the increasing numbers of people who are laid off temporarily, or longer, the pressure on budgets for families, businesses and governments, and know that we aren’t past the worst of it yet.

Hidden away in the sudden collapse of the big things that are measured every day is the resurgence of some of the fundamentals of life that have been less visible for a while. Everywhere I go, I’m seeing new garden spaces tilled up, and larger gardens where before there were smaller ones. Some fields have been plowed that had been in sod for a long time. I’m looking forward to seeing the next stage – what people are planting; how many people are putting a few beef animals out on that field that hasn’t been grazed for a while; whether new customers are joining the many new vendors at farmers’ markets – which seem to be springing up in almost every community.

For MOFGA, this has been a very busy spring. Our workshops, on subjects ranging from CSAs, to Spring Growth on organic grains, to Tree Pruning, were full. Dozens of people filled out their forms to have their farms be newly certified as organic. Twenty-four people entered as new journeypersons. Over 200 people applied for apprenticeships, an all-time record.

These are signs of success. They are also indicators of how the world is changing so that food is a more central element in people’s lives.

How do we tie all these pieces together? Perhaps it is as simple as awareness. If we can see the changes taking place, if we can make new connections ourselves, then the many pieces happening in our communities become more important, more likely to make a difference.

At Three Sisters Farm, we’ve planted a few more apple trees, put up a new grape arbor, and opened up the big garden across the road that had been in sod for a few years. We hope that the cover crop of buckwheat that grew there last year will keep the grass down to a manageable level this year while we cover crop the next section. And a few more friends have decided to connect for eggs and other products.

On the larger scale, MOFGA has been deeply engaged in federal discussions about food safety over the last three months. All of us have a responsibility here, to help make quality food available throughout our communities and beyond. But perhaps the largest responsibility is to keep building connections, to make sure we can always answer the question, “Who’s your farmer?”

Summer is upon us. I hope you enjoy many pleasant meals and celebrations in the months ahead, and that you can often point with pride to the food that helps you make those deep connections.

MOF&G Cover Summer 2009
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