Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener - Summer 2017

Publications \ The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener \ Summer 2017

The North Branch family
Farmers Off the Farm – Geoff and Gina Hancock make guitar pedals and straps
MOFGA's Salvadoran Sisters
Low-Energy Food-Storage
Bring in the Bees with Wildflower Strips
Tree Leaf Fodder for Livestock

Organic Matter – Summer 2017 Food and Agricultural News

Family, Community, Diversity, Carbon: A Unique Mix at North Branch Farm
By Jean English
Two-year-old Elwyn soars on an indoor swing pushed by his mother, while 6-year-old Ada sits on her Uncle Tyler's lap. Now Ada "flies" around the room wearing a blanket cape fashioned by Tyler's partner, Misha, who is clad in a matching cape. Then Elwyn nurses while his parents, Seth and Anna, and his uncle talk about their farm. This flurry of activity and support of family members is all part of the plan.

Farmers Off the Farm
By Stowell P. Watters
Look at any farm growing any product in any place, from blueberry barrens in Washington County to Taro farms in Hawaii, from citrus groves in Georgia to corn fields in Nebraska, and even from diversified organic vegetable farms here in New England to diversified organic vegetable farms in California: No two are identical, just as no two farmers are the same. Independence is the lifeblood of farmers, and curiosity is their daily bread.

MOFGA's Salvadoran Sisters Address Food, Water, Environmental and Social Issues
By the MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee
For 16 years MOFGA has had sistering relationships with two organizations in El Salvador: CCR (Coordinating Committees for the Development of Chalatenango) and CORDES (Foundation for Cooperation and Communal Development of El Salvador). In early 2017, five members of the MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee visited 10 Salvadoran communities and three community radio stations where CCR and CORDES work. We deepened our understanding of organic farming and gardening in El Salvador and of social, political, economic and environmental gains and struggles. We were frequently reminded of the importance of international solidarity.

Low-Energy Food-Storage Solutions
By Eric Evans
My wife, Laura, and I love to eat the fruit and veggies that we grow organically on our solar-powered homestead in Camden, Maine. We also like to make our own low-tech and low-energy innovations for growing and storing our harvest. Here are three ideas that you might find useful.

The Compost-Heated Outdoor Shower at Deer Isle Hostel
By Dennis Carter
Have you ever dug into a heap of compost, wood chips or manure and found it to be warm and steamy inside? Bacteria, thriving in these optimal environments, break down organic matter at an accelerated pace and produce significant heat in the process. My wife and I had long made compost to improve the soil in our garden and orchard, and I began to wonder: How could I harness the compost to heat water?

Maine AgrAbility Addresses Challenges of Cheese-Making on the Farm at Appleton Creamery
By Ellen S. Gibson
Maine AgrAbility works with Maine farmers who struggle to continue their work due to injury, illness or disability. The USDA-funded program is a partnership between the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Alpha One Independent Living Center, and Goodwill of Northern New England. Each partner brings its expertise and institutional insights to the challenges at the intersection of farming, health and employment.

Bring in the Bees with Wildflower Strips
By Sue Smith-Heavenrich If you want to increase pollination and fruit set in your blueberries, plant flowers. It's working for Doug Van Horn, who produces 14 acres of blueberries in Montville. The wildflower strips were part of a research project, he says. Eric Venturini, a graduate student at the University of Maine at the time, wanted to see whether planting flower strips would increase bee populations and flower visits in blueberry patches, and the margins of Van Horn's field provided an ideal study site.

Tree Leaf Fodder for Livestock
By Shana Hanson
Across climates and times of change, farmers worldwide have relied upon forests for stable animal rations. Trees are optimally structured to build soil and ecological health around their own deep roots, and their leaves and branches can benefit the farm food chain. For 8,000 years, livestock ingested and bedded in tree leaves, thus concentrating carbon, nitrogen, minerals and microbial life wherever humans settled.

Rebirth of a Movement: The Concept of Soil Health is Changing Soil Testing and Soil Amending
By Will Brinton, Ph.D.
A renewed national interest in soil health and soil biology is creating an alternative to the long-held chemistry-based mineral theory of soil fertility still dominant today. For about 175 years, soil has been viewed largely as a physical support medium for plants to which mineral nutrients must be supplied based on limiting factors and crop removal. Along with this, soil testing labs have fine-tuned rapid soil chemical extractions as a means to recommend mineral supplements, based on a formidable foundation of mathematical equations calibrating to potential yields.

Minerals: Whence and Whither?
By Will Bonsall
Minerals are the part of "organic" that isn't organic. That is, all of the elemental components of organic matter – carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen – are in the air we breathe, always in adequate supply; all we have to do is create a soil community that sequesters those elements in stable-but-ever-changing humus.

Building the Mycorrhizal Connection
By C.J. Walke
As spring rolls into summer, we should see young, month-old fruitlets on our trees, slowly swelling with growth in the sunlight of our longest days of the year. Nutrition for that growth is centered in the soil, where we look to build a biologically active ecosystem for soil microbes and plant root hairs to exchange water and nutrients, supporting each other. Essential to this healthy exchange is the vast hyphal network of mycorrhizal fungi that colonize root systems, connecting plant to plant beneath the soil and creating a community like none other on Earth.

Maine Apple Camp
By Todd Little-Siebold    
MOFGA's Maine Heritage Orchard Committee is organizing the first-ever Maine Apple Camp on August 18 to 20, 2017 – a 2-1/2-day event at Camp NEOFA in Liberty to bring together fruit enthusiasts, cidermakers, food entrepreneurs and heirloom fruit conservation advocates to brainstorm ways we can all help bring back Maine's traditional iconic fruit.

MOFGA Certified Clean Cannabis (MC3) Program to Continue
By Chris Grigsby, MOFGA Certification Services LLC Director
The MOFGA board voted in April 2017 to continue the MOFGA Certified Clean Cannabis Program beyond its trial phase and to open the program to a larger number of caregivers for the coming growing season and beyond. The trial was first featured in the fall 2016 issue of The MOF&G. MOFGA Certification Services will administer the full program.

The Maine Forest and the Perfect Storm
By Peter Hagerty
A perfect storm is forming on the horizon that MOFGA's Low Impact Forestry (LIF) Program is working to address. In an attempt to reduce their carbon footprint, energy companies from Britain and many other EU countries have relied on wood biomass for fuel. These countries are running out of trees and recently have begun sourcing wood chips and pellets from our southern states. They are now looking to the Maine forest and its wood industry for more fuel.

Harvest Kitchen: Summer Heat
By Roberta Bailey
These days I seek restaurants that expand my world and excite me into trying to create the dishes at home. I am learning about the umami in Japanese ramen broth, the spice blend in a lemony Moroccan beef dish, the touch of clove and star anise in Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup), the oily spice dispersion in a Pakistani curry, the perfect texture of Thai noodles, the fiery dance between wilted cucumber, fish sauce and thinly sliced serrano peppers, and the elusive perfection of an authentic Mexican salsa verde.

Aspirator Seed Cleaner Demonstrated at Seed Swap and Scion Exchange

Acreage Question


Dramatic Increases in Pesticide Use – for What?
By Jean English
A United Nations report released last winter says the idea that pesticides are essential to feed our growing population is a myth, and it criticizes pesticide manufacturers that aggressively and unethically promote their products and obstruct restrictions on their use. The report calls for a global transition toward safer and healthier food and agricultural production.

MOFGA Board Rejects Organic Check-Off
By Ted Quaday
MOFGA's Board of Directors voted unanimously in April to oppose the organic check-off program proposed by the Organic Trade Association (OTA). The USDA is drafting rules for the check-off, which would, in effect, create a tax on growers and handlers of organic products.

The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower's Handbook
The Scything Handbook
The Independent Farmstead
Ted's Greenhouse – Creating a Four-Season Passive Solar Greenhouse From the Ground Up
Karl, Get Out of the Garden!