Community, Connections, and Kohlrabi at the Common Ground Country Fair

by Kristen Farrell, Operations Assistant, MOFGA Certification Services 

The 38th annual Common Ground Country Fair brought over 50,000 people to Unity the weekend of September 19-21. As fairgoers entered the grounds, they were greeted by the sights, smells, and sounds of a farmers market full of fresh, organic food and products. 

In past years there was only one market area, at the Fair entrance known as the Rose Gate. Four years ago, after the number of vendors who wanted to participate outgrew the space available, Fair organizers decided to create a second market area on the other side of the grounds, at the Pine Gate.

A total of 36 vendors, all certified organic, greeted fairgoers at both entrances this year, giving the public the opportunity to meet farmers and producers face-to-face as they shopped and enjoyed their delicious finds. As for myself, I was on the hunt for a kohlrabi, curious to try a new recipe I had found in a MOFGA pamphlet. There were so many varieties of vegetables to choose from at each booth, it was hard not to get a little of everything.

 

     

In addition to browsing the markets, I was able to get to know several of our certified producers while volunteering at the MOFGA membership tent. JoAnn Meyers, of Beau Chemin Preservation Farm, shared my volunteer slot, and I learned a lot about her farm and the endangered breeds that she and her husband raise. Several visitors to the tent were farmers new to Maine, who were interested in finding out more about MOFGA and how to certify their own farms. I look forward to seeing their applications on my desk in the near future.

It was wonderful for me, as a new staff member at Certification Services, to meet our certified producers, most of whom I had previously only met over phone and e-mail. The energy of the whole weekend made me realize what an amazing community we have here, whether we are farmers, processors, gardeners, or simply those interested in living closer to the earth. As I left the Fair on Friday afternoon, my giant kohlrabi in tow, it reinforced for me the importance of connecting with the people who produce our food, of appreciating the land that it comes from, and of valuing this great community that I am now a part of.

                         

National Organic Seed Survey

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/JFRSKKZ

The Organic Seed Alliance has launched its national organic seed survey. The survey comes around every five years, and seeks to assess certified crop producers’ attitudes and perceptions regarding organic seed, as well as better understand current organic seed usage. 

Certified organic crop producers, whether or not they currently use organic seeds, are encouraged to take a few minutes to complete the survey. All responses are voluntary and confidential, and will be processed in aggregate; no data will be identified by individual or farm. 

The data collected through this survey will be analyzed and compiled as part of the next State of Organic Seed report, which will be published in 2015. This report captures successes, obstacles, opportunities, and risks in organic seed systems, and will offer detailed recommendations for improving access to seed that is optimal for U.S. organic agriculture.

What a handsome bunch!

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MOFGACertification

We’ve created a pinterest collection of all the MOFGA-certified organic producer profiles to date.  Check it out here:  http://www.pinterest.com/MOFGACertified/mofga-certified-farmers/

2014 Organic Maine! Hot off the press!

To get copies for your store, farm stand, local library, etc, call MOFGA at 568-4142.  You can download a PDF version by clicking on this sentence.

 

 

22 April 14 Field Notes-Maple Syrup

 

Jerome Rigot and I just returned from the last of the maple syrup inspections in the north woods of Somerset County, Maine.  In order to access these sugar camps, located in the unorganized territory of Seboomook Lake, we stay in St. Georges, Quebec, and must cross in and out of Maine each day using obscure border crossings.

 

 

A few feet of snow still covers the ground in these woods.  Although it does not look particularly mountainous, this maple syrup producing region is about 1500 feet above sea level.  When sap in lower elevation sugarbush areas in Maine and Quebec have ceased to flow, producers here are still making syrup. 

The producers are Quebecois and many have been making syrup for generations in these Maine woods.  While some of the camps look quite rustic, the equipment used to concentrate sap and boil it into syrup is state of the art.  

When we add up all the taps in sugar maple trees that are part of the organic system plans we approve, we get nearly one million.  That comes to about 265,000 gallons of MOFGA-certified organic maple syrup.

 

We want to give special thanks to Adam Lee (Lee Toyota in Topsham) for providing us with an awesome Toyota Tundra 4X4 for this most recent trip.  The logging roads we have to travel on feature the best of winter and mud season this time of year!

Mary
MOFGA Certification Services Director




5 April 2014

Got Hayfields?  Attend a hay making workshop with Rick Kersbergen, UMaine Cooperative Extension.  Many options statewide.  REGISTER

Have pigs?  Buying pigs?  Be knowledgable about recent porcine virus outbreaks.  READ

Interested in holistic healthcare for livestock?  Attend a workshop with PASA’s Susan Beal DMV, at MOFGA, on 12 April.  REGISTER

Want to learn how to slaughter your own broilers?  Attend MOFGA’s popular chicken processing workshop led by Diane Schivera on 10 July.  REGISTER

Reminder!  Now is the time of year that organic farm plan renewals are due if you are a MOFGA certified organic farm.  Check your paperwork for your deadline.  Direct questions to your certification specialist (Jaco, Katie, or Joan).

 

Late winter news and reminders

The Washington County Growers Meeting Scheduled for this Thursday 13 March 14 in Trescott has been cancelled due to the coming winter storm.

Notice to all MOFGA certified farms:  Farm certification updates are due soon.  Check your update letters from your certification specialists.  Due dates are either 17 March or 21 April.  Please contact your specialist (Katie, Jaco, Joan or Kate) if you have questions.

MOFGA’s Spring Growth Conference is Saturday 22 March 14 at our Common Ground Education Center in Unity.  This year’s topic is WEED CONTROL, a big challenge for many organic crop producers.  Click here for more details.

 

Take Our Survey

What motivates you to purchase organic foods?  Why is MOFGA-certified organic important?  How can we better promote the MOFGA organic label?  You can help us by taking our survey.  It’s just 10 questions with lots of opportunity to add comments.  Thank you and have a great 2014!

CLICK HERE FOR SURVEY

One-Stop Shop for Organics

Looking for USDA programs and services that support the growing organic sector? USDA has created a centralized web resource center containing all their programs, services, and data.

The new site gives access to:

  • Conservation programs, flexible microloans, and other financial resources for farmers and ranchers.
  • Organic price reports, cost/revenue comparisons, and other economic and market data.
  • Improved crop and livestock insurance and other programs tailored to the organic sector.
  • Production and conservation assistance and research on organic agriculture.
  • Benefits of organic certification and how to get certified.
  • USDA staff at your local field offices and much more

USDA is committed to helping organic agriculture grow and thrive by removing obstacles for organic farmers and businesses.

 

New Design Sought for MOFGA-Certified Organic Logo

MOFGA wants to focus on ways to boost the impact of MOFGA-certified organic for both farmers and consumers. We want more producers to seek certification through MOFGA and the best way to do that is to strengthen the MOFGA-certified organic logo in the marketplace. Our logo needs to be the label that everyone recognizes and seeks out when buying food and farm products. By redesigning our certification logo we hope to improve overall marketing of the MOFGA-certified organic brand. Toward that end, a Request for Proposal (RFP) has been published, and we encourage our producers to share it far and wide. The deadline for proposals is Monday, 30 December 2013.

Access the full RFP here.