Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Glendon Mehuren (left) of Faithful Venture Farm with his older children after winning Grand Champion Dairy Cow at the Union Fair 2017.
A pollinator-friendly solar farm in Minnesota. Photo by Rob Davis.
A day's harvest from the gardens in the summer of 2017.
Seedling production was the topic of the 2018 Spring Growth Conference

Organic Matter – Food and Agricultural News

Family and Tradition Nurture Faithful Venture Farm
By Sonja Heyck-Merlin
“My grandfather can remember when there were 28 farms in Searsmont shipping milk,” says Glendon Mehuren, a Waldo County organic dairy farmer. “And in the 20 years we’ve been dairying, six farms between here and Morrill village have closed up. “Now, we’re the only dairy farm left in the towns of Searsmont, Montville, Liberty, Morrill, Belmont, Hope, Lincolnville – and that list goes on and on,” Mehuren says.

Pollinator-Friendly Solar Farms Provide Many Benefits
By Sue Smith-Heavenrich
Solar farms are sprouting everywhere, from small community clusters of arrays to large industrial installations. Humans aren’t the only ones who can benefit from solar farms. Energy producers in Minnesota, Wisconsin and other states have seeded native grasses and flowers in and around their solar arrays. Their solar farms do double duty: converting sunshine to electricity and supporting a population of pollinators.

The Lincolnville Bulletin Board
By Diane Roesing O’Brien
POST: "I had a business (that's another word for a swarm) of flies in my yard today, must be spring." For the past eight years, this is one way we’ve been communicating with each other here in our town, halfway up the coast. We call it the Lincolnville Bulletin Board. We sell our old couches, give away stuff, put up the general store’s daily menu, let each other know about illness or fire or accident. The town office tells us when taxes are due, when the polls will open, or when work on a new culvert will close a road.

Maine State Prison Farm Cultivates Crops and More
By Polly Shyka
Maine’s maximum security prison in Warren has quite the bustling farm within its walls. Each morning, a dozen or so men, donning golden T-shirts over their standard-issue denims, gather to make a plan for their time in the gardens. Greg, a wiry, suntanned, bright-eyed man in his 50s, leads the team. He has a bouncy way about him, popping up and down from a crouch to standing in but a second. He is fast-talking and fast-moving. Somehow he works, instructs and encourages his team members all at the same time.

Miracles from Mals to New England: Philip Ackerman-Leist Speaks in Maine
By Stowell P. Watters
There is a place in Northern Italy, right at the top of the boot, where farmers who raise fruits and vegetables, grain and hay, goats, cows, pigs and sheep, and those who make cheese, cure meat and bake ancient rye breads have, for 30 generations, thrived amid the howling winds, deep snows and steep pitch of the mountainside. This place is called Mals, in the province of South Tirol in the geographical area known as the Upper Vinschgau Valley, about 3,500 feet up in the Alps. Here you can taste exquisite organic food, stay the night in a castle, or even see Ötzi, the Ice Man, the oldest mummy in Europe.

Seedling Production: Greenhouses and Tunnels, Seeding Media, Disease Management, Growers’ Methods
The 2018 Spring Growth Conference at MOFGA addressed seedling production – setting up production equipment (benches, containers, etc.), evaluating soil mixes, maintaining plant nutrition and avoiding disease problems.

Vaults, Banks, Guilds and More – Many Ways to Save Seeds
By Will Bonsall
The whole topic of biodiversity and, in particular, our horticultural genetic heritage – heirloom seeds – has become a hot-button issue, and many gardeners are turning to seed saving as a way to engage with that issue. This is nothing but good; however, a number of approaches to seed saving exist, and knowing about them may help you to participate more effectively and meet your own needs, interests and capabilities.

Economic Opportunities for Agroforestry in the Northeast
By Heather Omand, MOFGA Organic Marketing and Business Specialist
In October 2017, my family and I attended a four-day training on agroforestry in New York hosted by Cornell University. We went for our own aspirations to implement agroforestry practices on our home farm, but I ended up talking a lot about my conversations with MOFGA-certified organic farmers and about the work that MOFGA does, such as our online organic farmer business toolkit and our journeyperson program. Based on that experience, I was invited by the USDA National Agroforestry Center (NAC) to attend a USDA workshop in Washington, D.C., on the economic opportunities of agroforestry.

Energy-efficient Structures for Agriculture – and a Maggot Farm
By Jean English
An early March 2018 tour of an energy-efficient farm structure in Waldoboro, Maine, generated interest not only in the building but in the fly farm that it housed.

A Solar Electric Backup System
By Ben Hoffman
When the power grid goes down, which it does several times a year – sometimes for three days or more – I need backup for my freezers and wood furnace. Solar was the answer – the fuel is free, safe, and emits no fumes. I bought a Xantrex system from Northern Tool for about $1,900. The package included two 150 watt solar panels and two 110 amp sealed AGM batteries – enough power to run my furnace until the fire burns out. It also powers two freezers, emergency lights and telephone.

Tillage Trials
By Ben Hoffman
Minimal tillage is essential for healthy, productive soils. In a seven-year study at the University of Western Australia, total organic carbon in the top 4 inches of soil increased by 1.7 tons/acre with no-till and 1 ton under conservation tillage but decreased by 0.2 tons under rotary tillage.

Orchard Materials
By C.J. Walke
Over the winter I have been talking with MOFGA Certification Services (MCS) about materials used in organic orchards and fruit tree propagation.

Welcoming MOFGA’s New Orchard Coordinator
By John Bunker
It may have been on a family trip to see the giant sequoias out in California. Or it may have been the seedling apple tree her grandfather gave them to plant in the narrow strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street of their suburban home. It could have been the Bradford pear in the backyard – the tree she helped dig up and transplant because it was in the way of the slide. It almost certainly had a lot to do with having a passionate gardener for a mom. Most likely it was a combination of all these things and more. Laura Sieger got hooked on plants at an early age.

Labeling Livestock Products
By Diane Schivera, M.A.T.
Labeling of meat and poultry products, including eggs, does not have to be difficult if you follow the directions and the process carefully. Always start with a mock-up of your label for the submittal process. Don’t have it printed until it has been approved. Approval can take time; figure on at least two weeks, but it could take six weeks if problems arise.

MOFGA, the Maine Forest and Climate Change: A Conference
By Mitch Lansky and Peter Hagerty
Years ago the Low Impact Forestry (LIF) Project surveyed MOFGA members who owned forestland. We asked for feedback from landowners, whether they owned 1 acre or 500. The survey was not scientific, but it did reveal that the acreage of those members’ forests greatly exceeded the acreage of their fields or gardens.

Organic Integrity in the Supply Chain
By Chris Grigsby, MOFGA Certification Services LLC Director                            
At the annual Accredited Certifiers Association and USDA National Organic Program’s (NOP) certifier training, held in San Antonio in February 2018, the focus was on reporting about recent breakdowns in the integrity of product certified as organic and steps taken to mitigate these risks moving forward. In addition, many strategies were discussed and presented to align certifiers around best practices for dealing with integrity issues in the supply chain.

Harvest Kitchen: Delicious Dairy
By Roberta Bailey
It is the best of times. It is the worst of times. Small dairy and cheese businesses are starting up all over New England and beyond. As a consumer, I love the availability of such a wide range of locally produced cheese, milk, cream, butter and yogurt. But for commercial milk producers, prices continue to be too low, even for organic dairies. Organic grain costs are twice those of conventionally grown. It is a constant gamble whether a market will exist for the milk.

Daytripping 2018
Farms and Gardens to Visit This Summer

Yes, You Can Grow Figs in Maine
Steamed Weeds, Anyone?
A Simple, Strong Fence Corner
Start a Butterfly Garden
What’s in Weed-n-Feed Lawn Products?
Gather Ye Rose Hips


Serving MOFGA
By Ted Quaday, MOFGA Executive Director
It’s been my privilege and pleasure to serve MOFGA’s enthusiastic community of farm, food, environment and human health activists as your executive director for the past five years. Our knowledgeable, passionate and committed members, partners and staff make the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association one of the most dynamic, innovative and inspirational organic food advocacy organizations in the country.

Dig in with MOFGA!
By Jean English
Like a soil that’s been well nourished for decades, MOFGA is a rich and ever-growing community of beings sharing and working together. Our Daytripping feature started over three decades ago. Our educational programs have grown more numerous and comprehensive over time. Check the “Events” tab on to see what you can do with MOFGA this summer, including and in addition to the ideas listed here. Every organic thing you do matters. Please join us!

Reviews & Resources
Native Plants for New England Gardens
Straw Bale Solutions
Hey, Hey, Hay! A Tale of Bales and the Machines That Make Them
Heirloom Vegetable Gardening
Our Native Bees
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World
Fruitful Labor, The Ecology, Economy, and Practice of a Family Farm
The Grower’s Guide to Conducting On-farm Variety Trials
Perennial Fruit – new, unusual, and unique crops for northern climates


Staff Profile
Chris Grigsby – Director, MOFGA Certification Services, LLC

New Hires at MOFGA
Jack Kertesz
Steven Mozes
Hannah Murray
Laura Sieger

Jacki Martinez Perkins and Rafael Martinez Soto
Winners of Russell Libby Agricultural Scholarships
Tide Mill Organic Farm
CR Lawn
Bumbleroot Organic Farm LLC
Cheryl Wixson
Kathy Murray
Frank Drummond

Gerald (Gerry) Colson
Kent Whealy

Volunteer Profile
Paul Schlein


• Thanks to Donors and Diners at the 17th Annual Empty Bowl Supper

• Successful Seed Swap and Scion Exchange

• MOFGA Grateful for Earth Day Volunteers

Common Ground Country Fair

• Join the Common Ground Country Fair Planning Team!

• Volunteer Registration Open for the 2018 Common Ground Country Fair

• Ride a Bus to the Fair

• Welcome Back, Tami

• Donkey and Mule Show