Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
2020 Summer Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener
Joy Trueworthy (left) and Brittany Hopkins of MOFGA-certified organic Wise Acres Farm in Kenduskeag.
Joy Trueworthy (left) and Brittany Hopkins of Wise Acres Farm in Kenduskeag.
Calendula flowers
Calendula flowers
 Cranberries ready for harvest
 Cranberries ready for harvest
The new granite EarthLoom. English photo
The new granite EarthLoom at MOFGA's Common Ground Education Center. English photo
A Rastafarian farmer gives a tour of his diverse production area. John Bliss photo
A Rastafarian farmer in Guyana. John Bliss photo
Two generations cultivate Aurora Mills & Farm in Aroostook County.
Two generations cultivate Aurora Mills & Farm in Aroostook County.
A cannabis plant that is ready to harvest. John Jemison photo
A cannabis plant that is ready to harvest. John Jemison photo
 

Organic Matter – Food and Agricultural News

Apprentice and Journeyperson Programs Pay Off for Wise Acres Farm
By Sonja Heyck-Merlin
Maine has an abundance of land that has been retired from productive farming. As farming has become concentrated on large-scale operations sited on the best soils, smaller parcels are left behind. Most of these abandoned fields are undernourished and underproductive, but many are kept open by hay operations. In the fall of 2011, Brittany Hopkins and her wife, Joy Trueworthy, purchased 40 such acres in the central Maine town of Kenduskeag. With 15 acres of open land bordered on three sides by forest, Hopkins, the principal farmer, began the process of regenerating the land, and in less than a decade has transformed it into a productive part of Penobscot County's rural economy. Trueworthy, a self-employed lawyer, is also the self-proclaimed farmers’ market "weekend warrior."

Calendula – Beautiful and Useful
By Joyce White
There are so many reasons to plant a big bed of calendula, Calendula officinalis. It blooms until frost for cut flowers and medicine, it isn’t fussy about where it’s planted, pollinators like it, it can be added as a garnish to food, and its seed is easy to save for next year’s planting.

Cranberries – Don’t Assume You Can’t Grow Them
By Will Bonsall
Most folks think of cranberries as a crop with requirements that are too challenging for their situation. Cranberries like sandy, acidic, soggy peat soils that can be flooded at will, whereas the average gardener has (or aspires to have) a well-drained, marl, near-neutral soil with sufficient nitrogen-containing humus. Cooperative Extension sources say that cranberries need a glacial deposit consisting of clay underlying gravel underlying peat underlying sand, or you have to create those conditions by building such layers yourself. I’m sure that’s what cranberry plants prefer, but I’ve found that the crop is not quite that picky.

EarthLooms Weave Community at MOFGA’s Common Ground Country Fair
By Sonja Heyck-Merlin
Early each morning since the 2005 debut of an EarthLoom at the Common Ground Country Fair, Wednesday Spinner and Weaving a Life founder Susan Merrill spends an hour and a half preparing the loom for weaving.  Located across a busy walking lane from the Wednesday Spinners’ tent, the 9 x 4 ½-foot-tall EarthLoom is the focal point of the "pocket park" where the spinners’ dye garden and a bench-height stone wall surround the loom.

Gleaning: Healthy Eating for Everyone
By Tim King
A network of farms and gleaner-volunteers, along with food security organizations, has risen up across Maine in an effort to meet the needs of food insecure Maine residents. From Aroostook County in the north to Lincoln and Cumberland counties in the south, farmers are teaming up with nonprofit organizations and social service agencies, along with hundreds of volunteers, to rescue good food and distribute it through a variety of ingenious ways.  

The Roots of Organic Movement Building in Post-Colonial Guyana
By John Bliss
What does it take to build a movement? At what point does despair transform into hope; stagnation into motivation? How is a movement embodied in leadership, in community and in the landscape? In November 2019 I had an opportunity to travel to South America with a U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID) project. I was sent to Guyana, which lies on the coast of the Caribbean Sea between Venezuela and Suriname.

Aroostook Update
By Jean English and John Chartier
On a couple of snowy days last November, we took advantage of the off-season to visit a few enterprises that contribute to Aroostook County’s agricultural economy: Aurora Mills, Yost Farms and the University of Maine at Presque Isle (UMPI – where we also got a hops update). Here’s our report from Maine’s biggest county.

Why Grow Cannabis At Home?
By John Jemison, Extension Specialist – Soil and Water Quality, University of Maine
I have had the pleasure to work for Cooperative Extension for almost 30 years. I never dreamed when I started with Extension that I would ever be writing an article about how and why I think you should consider growing cannabis at home, but I think there are many good and interesting reasons why you should.

Using Cured Cannabis Flower
By John Jemison
University of Maine Cooperative Extension Soil and Water Quality Specialist
Now that you have adequately cured your harvested and trimmed flower, you are ready to dive into making edibles. In cured flowers, most cannabinoids are not in a form your body can use best unless you smoke or vaporize the flower. I am not a fan of smoking anything, so I suggest that you consider cooking with your flower to make healthy edibles.


Left to right: Katie Pitre, Finnegan Ferreboeuf and Jason Gold (with Izzy) at Tecolote Farm.
Left to right: Katie Pitre, Finnegan Ferreboeuf and Jason Gold (with Izzy) at Tecolote Farm.
An old apple tree at the Wooden Boat School in Brooklin, Maine. English photo
An old apple tree in Brooklin, Maine. English photo
Deer in the garden. Dennis Sidik photo
Deer in the garden. Dennis Sidik photo
 

Harvest Kitchen: What to Do With That Bounty of Food You Grew
By Roberta Bailey
With my Harvest Kitchen column, I write in April for the summer issue of The MOF&G. Normally I don’t know in April whether summer will turn out to have been dry or whether we will have had a major weather event, but usually I do know what will be ripe in the garden or available at the farmers’ market by summer. I write toward a fairly predictable future. In April of 2020, however, we were still sheltering in place, and I had the unsettling task of writing to an audience that knows that the next few months will be dominated by all the unknowns of the coronavirus pandemic.

MOFGA Certification Services LLC
Steelbow Farm: A Loss for Maine, a Gain for Texas
By Jaco Schravesande-Gardei, Associate Director of Crops, MOFGA Certification Services, LLC
David and Katie Pitre bought Tecolote Farm in 1993 and started one of the first organic CSAs in Texas the next year. In the past two years, the Pitres had stopped the CSA and were still selling wholesale but were thinking of retiring, so in the fall of 2019 they talked with Finnegan Ferreboeuf and Jason Gold of Steelbow Farm in Maine about leasing the farm.

The Pandemic and the Ancient Apple Tree
By John Bunker
Magnificent, ancient apple trees can still be found scattered throughout much of Maine. Look for them behind old barns, next to abandoned cellar holes, along roadsides nestled in thickets, sometimes even beside a gas station or a convenience store parking lot. The ancient apple trees of Maine were spreading their branches and producing bountiful crops even before Maine joined the Union two hundred years ago. As we struggle to make sense of the COVID-19 pandemic, we might consider looking at these old apple trees. There’s a chance that everything we need to know about survival, these trees have known for millennia.

Animal Pests in the Garden
By Caleb Goossen, Ph.D.
The three most common mammal pests that gardeners ask me about are deer, woodchucks and small rodents. Woodchucks and small rodents seem to be able to find gardens anywhere, but gardening in town can mean freedom from browsing deer – although not always!

When Sourcing Meat, Know Your Farmer
By Jacki Perkins
Since entering into adulthood and having the responsibility of buying my own food, I have become cognizant of where that food comes from and how it is made or grown. I have not always found myself in situations where I could buy local or organic, but the source of my meat is my highest priority.

American Beech
By Noah Gleason-Hart
American beech (Fagus grandifolia) has a reputation among foresters, landowners and loggers as a “weed” with exasperating persistence and limited value. In some ways beech deserves this label. It is a prolific sprouter; when you cut one down, countless saplings spring from the roots and stumps of the tree. These saplings benefit from the large, established root systems of their parent trees and can aggressively outcompete new seedlings of other species.

Daytripping – Farms and Gardens to Visit This Summer

Tips
Tea Time
Lath for Weed and Moisture Control
Broccolini: What’s in a Name?

Letter
Pandemic Exposes Deep Cracks in Monopolistic Meat Supply

Editorials

The Food System We Want and Deserve Grows from Necessity
By Sarah Alexander, MOFGA Executive Director
As I write this we’re six weeks into everything being shut down from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Every Seed Counts
By Jean English, Editor, The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener
Little did I know what was to come when my spring MOF&G editorial about resilience quoted UMaine’s John Jemison about the importance of locally produced food for driving the local economy and for feeding ourselves “if the wheels come off the energy truck.” Well, surprise: Instead of the energy truck, the worldwide health truck popped its wheels.

Reviews
Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter
The Planter of Modern Life: Louis Bromfield and the Seeds of a Food Revolution
Gardening with Emma: Grow and Have Fun: A Kid-to-Kid Guide
The Farm That Feeds Us: A year in the life of an organic farm
Willie Knows Who Done It
Edible Weeds on Farms: Northeast farmer’s guide to self-growing vegetables
Tree Leaf Fodder for Livestock: Transitioning Farm Woodlots to ‘Air Meadow’ for Climate Resilience