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MOFGA PageLand and Sea Compost Question
The Quiet Man with the Heart of Gold
MOFGA Delegation to Visit El Salvador
Summer Intern Helps with Fair Logistics
This growing season, Land and Sea Compost, made in Rockport, Maine, was advertised as "100% Maine-made organic material, MOFGA-approved." However, according to MOFGA’s technical services director Eric Sideman, the compost producer, Chris Smith of Season’s Downeast, never applied for review when MOFGA sent him an application in November 2002 and again in January 2003. Land and Sea’s approval from a decade ago was not under the USDA organic standards and therefore is no longer valid.
Sideman called Smith in June of 2004 and followed with a letter and a second call in July 2004, when Smith finally responded that he had decided not to get his compost approved this year. Sideman requested that Smith print a retraction where he advertised and notify his customers that he is not MOFGA approved. Sideman suggests that people who used Land and Sea Compost believing that it was MOFGA-approved should let Smith know that they believe they were misled.
In August 2004, Smith told ***The MOF&G*** that he failed to renew his certification forms with MOFGA because he was busy building a new office this year, and his mail was lost when he moved from one office to another. He said that he will remove the "MOFGA approved" notation from his ads, and blamed the lapse in certification on a miscommunication. "I wasn’t trying to use MOFGA in any terms," he said.
Smith noted that his product is still made from 100% organic, local materials; that he stopped using grass clippings in his compost this year; that he does not use sludges; and that his test results, product source list and facility are available to anyone who wants to see them. "I just try to do the best I can," he concluded.
Since the National Organic Program became effective two years ago, "compost" for use on organic farms has had to meet strict legal standards for materials, turning and temperatures. That’s why MOFGA began a program in 2003 to review Maine-produced composts. Other Maine-produced composts may be perfectly acceptable for use, but haven’t been through our review process and haven’t been approved by MOFGA in any way. MOFGA encourages farmers and gardeners to support companies that are having their product reviewed to make sure it meets NOP standards.
A list of approved composts appears at www.mofga.org/tech_marl.html, with the notation that "Products listed there have not been evaluated for any other criteria and inclusion on this list does not confer any form of MOFGA product endorsement. Product formulas may change at any time; it is always the responsibility of the certified organic growers to make sure that all inputs used for certified organic crop production, livestock production, and/or processed goods comply with NOP rules."
Forrest L. Hooper Jr. meant something different to all of us. Forrest was a husband, father, brother, uncle, grandfather, friend, business owner, licensed poultry judge, Poultry Superintendent for the Union and Common Ground Country Fairs, a State of Maine Poultry Pullorum-Typhoid tester, one of the founding members and secretary of the Central Maine Bird Fancier's poultry club for 19 years, and a member of several other clubs and organizations. No matter what connection you had with him, one thing always rang out -- Forrest was a quiet man with a heart of gold. He was a wonderful person, good friend and a devoted poultry man. He would talk to anyone about poultry, the weather or whatever else may be going on. He always had time for a cup of coffee and conversation. He never had anything bad to say about anyone. He seemed to like everyone, but, most of all, everyone loved him.
I first met Forrest at his house where he tested my birds for the Union Fair. Forrest showed me what a great activity poultry showing can be, and that it's one in which the whole family can participate. That was a start to some wonderful times for me. Since that experience, my family and I have traveled all over New England showing our poultry.
Forrest talked to me a lot about poultry showing. He found the breed of chicken that I wanted to show and that I still keep. Forrest was my friend and mentor. I really enjoyed stewarding for him at the poultry shows. He was never in a rush and would always tell me what he was looking for -- good and bad. I will never forget the kindness he gave me and my family and will always remember the quiet man with a heart of gold. Forrest will be missed by all.
Richard Royer Jr.
Chris Cavendish had his first market garden when he was 10 years old. Now, as the Farmer in Residence at MOFGA’s Modern Homestead in Unity, he is back at it.
Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Cavendish and his family moved to a home with a garden spot when he was ten. He convinced his nongardening mother to buy him some pumpkin seeds; he grew the pumpkins; and when they were ripe, he painted faces on them and took them to the local convenience store to sell for Halloween.
He later attended Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, to study architecture--a field he’d wanted to pursue since third grade. Ball State, notes Cavendish, is the alma mater of David Letterman and Jim Davis (creator of the comic Garfield), and it was well funded by the Ball Brothers (of canning jar fame). This was the only university to which Cavendish applied. He was accepted, went through the five-year architecture program, then stayed for a sixth year to complete minors in metal smithing and ceramics. He received his Bachelor’s degree in environmental science with a focus on architecture.
Cavendish moved to Maine and worked for TFH Architects in Portland’s Old Port for about three years "I took the job because the firm specialized in green and/or sustainable architecture," he explains. The firm’s clients included Tom’s of Maine and O’Naturals.
"I had a good time working at that job, but I wanted to embark on a path that would bring me joy before turned 30," Cavendish continues. So he took a sabbatical, which became permanent, and first did construction on a sustainably-designed residence--while, by chance, living next door to Russ Libby, executive director of MOFGA. During this soul searching time, Cavendish knew that his future career would be related to agriculture. From Libby, he learned about MOFGA’s journeyperson program; then he talked with former journeypeople and felt that he was ready for the position--as did MOFGA.
Cavendish is running the Modern Homestead’s gardens as an agricultural enterprise. He is growing some 30 vegetable varieties on about 1/4 acre of land at MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center and wholesaling them to Uncle Dean’s and to New Moon Rising in Waterville, and to McCormick’s supermarket and Cross Trax Restaurant in Unity. He also sells at the Hallowell Farmers’ Market from 11 to 3 every Sunday. He chose that market after asking himself, "Where do I want to sit for four hours if I’m not selling anything?" With its beautiful, riverside location, the market enables Cavendish to watch osprey fly and people walk by on the rail trail.
He may not have much time for birds and hikers for long though, as he hopes to at least double his planted acreage and become more efficient with timely and successive plantings. He is also raising two Large Black and two Yorkshire-York hybrid pigs, as well as 75 meat chickens "because a customer asked me to raise 30 for her wedding." These birds are in the moveable coop that has been at Unity for a few years, but Cavendish, still the architect, has an idea for a new, more easily moved coop with wheels.
Cavendish’s position is being called "Farmer in Residence" rather than "journeyperson," because "I have full responsibility for my successes and failures. I’m more intimately involved with everything. If I don’t know something, I have to find out rather than wait to be told how to do it right. The learning curve may be steeper than if I were in the Journeyperson Program."
Add the fact that everyone can readily see his successes and failures, since his plots are in the open on MOFGA’s site and are the subject of tours at the Common Ground Fair, and you understand why the homestead and plots are referred to as "Fishbowl Farm" -- a name that Cavendish credits to former journeyperson Anne Hallee. Cavendish was warned about his lack of privacy during his interview for the position, but he explains that he has lived in similar environments in the past. In college, for instance, he lived in an intentional community that had a cottage business catering to retreats--offering places to stay, meeting spaces, and food prepared in an institutional size kitchen. "I helped in kitchen, and my loft was used as a meeting space sometimes."
During the Common Ground Fair, Cavendish will lead one-hour tours of the Modern Homestead and his gardens (see the schedule for times). He is also coordinating the Agricultural Demonstrations and Education Area, which features a number of fascinating, new talks this year.
Fairgoers can look forward to seeing Sudan grass in a plot where Cavendish intends to grow garlic and use the grass as mulch--an idea he got from MOFGA member Mark Fulford. He is also testing the cost effectiveness of irrigation on mixed greens grown in the open.
Want to see how coffee is grown, how to dye fabric with indigo or how "free trade" impacts small, Third-World communities? If so, you may be interested in joining a delegation of the MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee that is going to visit with our sistering organizations, CCR and CORDES, in El Salvador this winter. These are organizations of farmers and activists, similar to MOFGA. The anticipated dates for the trip are Jan. 23 to Feb. 1, and the trip will cost about $1300 per person, including airfare. The delegation also plans to talk with Salvadoran growers to find out how we might help them achieve organic certification; visit a dairy that is working toward organic certification; and see the beginning phase of a women’s gardening project that the MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee is funding.
In addition to this trip, the Sistering Committee is studying the possibility of starting a CSA-type project to sell coffee, dried fruit and indigo produced by members of our sistering organizations. The committee is also working with MOFGA’s Public Policy Committee and Board of Directors to produce a policy statement from MOFGA about our concerns regarding "free trade."
The committee will have a booth in the Social and Political Action Area of the Common Ground Country Fair. Please visit us there for more information about the above projects; to buy our indigo-dyed tea towels and goods from our sistering organizations; or to learn how we are working with other groups in Maine to encourage solidarity with our sistering organizations. For more information, please contact Paul or Karen Volckhausen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 667-9212.
Stacie Whitney has been working as MOFGA's intern this summer, focusing most of her energy on Common Ground Country Fair logistics. Stacie also works for Avena Botanicals in Rockland. Her involvement with MOFGA began at the 1998 Fair, when she was a graduate student aboard the Audubon Expedition Institute bus. "After only one week helping with the Fair, I had fallen in love with the work and ideals of MOFGA, and I wanted to help and be a part of it in any way possible," says Stacie. She returned to the Fair in subsequent years, volunteering mostly in the Common Kitchen. Originally from
Connecticut, Stacie now lives in Camden with her husband, Luke, who is developing a landscaping business using biodynamic gardening techniques. Thanks for all your great work Stacie!
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