Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
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Meet Anna Mueller – MOFGA Educational Events Coordinator

Anna Mueller

Anna Mueller

December 1, 2016

Anna Mueller, MOFGA's educational events coordinator, was born in Germany and moved to the United States in 1999. Her family moved from Florida to Massachusetts and then to Texas before Mueller returned to New England to attend Unity College. While at Unity she worked at MOFGA as a work-study student and later filled in as our administrative assistant before becoming events coordinator.

Mueller and her partner, Sean Murphy, have a passion for farming that led them to participate in MOFGA's apprenticeship and journeyperson programs. Thanks to that training, they were able to establish Murphy Family Farm in 2013 in Freedom.

Mueller graduated from Unity College in 2014 with a bachelor's degree in environmental writing and media. Now, through her position as events coordinator, she strives to help offer to others the same education and support that MOFGA offered to her.

Q. How many educational events does MOFGA put on each year?

A. Oh boy, we put on a lot, typically over 30 events ranging from one-day workshops such as our Orcharding Series, Beginning Beekeeping or Poultry Processing to multiday intensive workshops such as our Nose to Tail Pork Processing workshop and our Low Impact Forestry workshops.

Q. Which one involves the most preparation on your part?

A. I would have to say the Farmer to Farmer Conference takes the most preparation and a whole lot of time. It boasts over 30 sessions with multiple speakers in each, is three days long, and requires a lot of food sourcing for 250 to 300 participants. It also includes farm tours and sometimes an extra day-long workshop attached to the beginning of the conference. We hold the event in November and start planning the next one in December. But a whole lot of work makes one excellent event!

Q. Which one is your favorite? Why?

A. Hmm, am I allowed to have a favorite? Of course I do! I love all the workshops for so many reasons. My favorite, though, has to be Low Impact Forestry because it has a draft track, which I view as a lost art, and of course have always wanted to do. It is so wonderful to see horse and oxen teams working in the woods. Participants get to train through an obstacle course on the first day, including leading the horse back and forth between cones and over a log bridge, both with and without a log attached to the back. Then on the second and third days, it is off to the woods, and participants work on pulling logs out of the woods one by one. It is incredible to see and extremely fun to participate in!

Q. What does Murphy Family Farm grow? Do you have any exciting plans for it that you'd like to share?

A. We, and by we I mean predominately Sean, grow diversified vegetables. In our first couple of years we spread a wide net over growing all the vegetables we could and offering a home-delivery CSA in conjunction with a local dairy farm. This past year we decided to concentrate on primary crops that we grow well, including potatoes, baby carrots and alliums. We are also growing our livestock operation, which is the piece of the farm I deal with, primarily. We are currently trialing cashmere goats, guinea hogs, Narragansett turkeys and laying hens to find which livestock fit best into our system.

Q. Can you tell us more about the "family" in Murphy Family Farm? And what's happening over in Thorndike, at Mueller's Fruit Farm?

A. When we were apprentices back in 2012 at Fisher Farm, a multigenerational farm in Winterport, Sean's parents would come to visit us. They were planning on retiring and moving to Maine, and they and we realized we really liked that multigenerational farm model. Thus Murphy Family Farm was created! Of course, one set of parents so close wasn't enough for us. When my parents came to visit me in Maine, they also fell in love with the area and wondered how they could move here and continue working. When I found Schartner's farm for sale in Thorndike, I knew this was their chance, and they surprised us all and jumped in head first! I think we all made the best decisions we could have made. Sean and I would not have been able to purchase farmland on our own, although this model has allowed us to settle down and start purchasing our own adjacent land. Having our parents around is just wonderful and extremely helpful. Sean's parents helped us build our cabin, remove out-of-control weeds in our strawberries, and much more. We market together with my parents, selling their fruit and our vegetables together at Bar Harbor, Northeast Harbor and Southwest Harbor farmers' markets as well as at my parents' farm store in Thorndike.

Q. You've lived in so many different kinds of places! Maine is your favorite, right?

A. Maine is my favorite in the United States for sure – often because it reminds me so much of Germany, with the large fields and rolling hills. I do miss my family in Germany and the beautiful expanses of land between villages, and of course the old castles. But yes, Maine is absolutely wonderful. I am still waiting to see a live moose; so far I have seen moose only at the general store during hunting season!

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