Feature Stories From The Archives​

Learn more about the MOFGA community and Common Ground Country Fair

Crates of vegetables.


What follows is a collection of stories submitted by readers in response to the theme of “potluck.” The concept of “potluck” has taken on a new appreciation in our house since the onset of pandemic life. We came together with people not face to face but heart to heart through offers of roadside generosity. Some

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A Grower’s Journey

By Ivonne Vazquez A recent conversation at the farmers’ market made me think about my own journey as a gardener, grower and now a small-acreage diversified farmer. Someone was interested in the native plants I sell but was concerned about not having space as a renter to grow a garden. As a proponent of gardening

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Far Side of Maine Heritage Orchard Pond 2020


What follows is a collection of stories submitted by readers in response to the theme of “water.” The vegetable garden that borders the meadow was mostly under water from the latest storm, a temporary pond shining in the sunlight. From my studio window I could just make out the tops of the high rows I

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Rebekah Lowell with monarch wings.

Rebekah Lowell Wins 2023 Common Ground Country Fair Poster Contest

By Holli Cederholm  Rebekah Lowell considers herself a “multi-passionate” artist. Her portfolio includes fine art paintings of landscapes, whimsical fabric patterns, Maine Migratory Waterfowl Stamps, and illustrations for children’s books — which she also authors. The common thread is the world around her. “I’m never bored with nature,” says Lowell. If anything, nature provides an

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A farmworker bunches curly green kale in a field.

Beech Hill Farm at College of the Atlantic

Where students and community build relationships through food By Sonja Heyck-Merlin Mount Desert Island, Maine: What comes to mind? Maybe it’s catching the sunrise from atop Cadillac Mountain or sea kayaking in a lobster-buoyed bay? Or maybe whale watching, or biking Acadia’s famous carriage trails? Or maybe you roll your eyes, thinking about a $10

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A grower holds a palm-full of white poppy seeds.

Every Seed Has a Story — And Every Seed Grower is Part of It

By Tim King Every seed in every packet that a seed company ships to a gardener or farmer is throbbing with biological vitality and a barely fathomable web of stories and culture.  Take, for instance, the beautiful open-pollinated Swiss chard, called Heart of Gold, that Johnny’s Selected Seeds released in late 2022. The catalog describes

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A Tribute to Roberto McIntyre and Haas Tobey

By John Bunker Photos by the author As many of you know, I have been tracking down, identifying and preserving the historic apples of Maine for quite a few years. I’ve driven all over the state, studied apples and old books, grafted trees, collected scionwood — and tried to keep track of it all. This

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Joan Cheetham Retires After Nearly 20 Years

By Jacomijn Schravesande-Gardei, Associate Director of Crops, MCS Many of MOFGA Certification Services (MCS) clients know Joan Cheetham as the “very nice lady.” Unfortunately for all of us Joan is retiring. Over nearly 20 years, she has reviewed many client files and inputs and has also performed many inspections. The work of a certification specialist

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Six farmers stand smiling in a field; one holds a small child

Perspective Shift Needed for Small Farm Viability in Maine

South Paw Farm owner says despite grant funding farms are struggling By Dani Walczak Meg Mitchell, co-owner of South Paw Farm in Freedom, Maine, is tired of perseverance stories. The narrative of the hard-working white farmer personally overcoming obstacles to feed their community has started to fall flat for the farm owner of 15 years. 

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four farmers working in a field with a city and mountains rising to meet the horizon

Lessons from Organic Farming in South Korea

By Eesha Williams and Elizabeth Wood Photos courtesy of the authors After 20 years of organic vegetable farming, in 2022, we planted our farm, New Leaf CSA, near Brattleboro, Vermont, with cover crops and set out to see how farmers in other countries approach the challenges of farming. South Korea offered some great opportunities for

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a cardboard box with a colorful mix of five different kinds of specialty mushrooms

On-Farm Fungus Cultivation

Maine farms develop indoor and outdoor set-ups for market-scale mushroom production By Holli Cederholm Courtney Williams of Marr Pond Farm in Sangerville, Maine, says that outdoor mushroom production is a way to manage marginal lands profitably. She and her partner, Ryan Clarke, branched into mushrooms in 2016 in order to gain “market access” to farmers’

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Two farmers stand in front of a large red tractor

From Artist to Craftsperson

How The Buckle Farm Streamlined Their Business for Profitability and Improved Their Wellbeing By Jennifer Wilhelm Husband and wife team Jim Buckle and Hannah Hamilton of The Buckle Farm worked “epically long days” to get their business up and running. Five years after starting their farm in Unity, Maine, they found themselves exhausted from twice-weekly

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Two farmers hold a wooden box laden with fresh produce while standing in a hoophouse full of plants

Small Axe Farm’s Evolution from Homestead to No-Till Farm

Twenty Years of Small-Scale No-Till Production in Northern Vermont By Holli Cederholm Over the past 20 years, Evan Perkins and Heidi Choate of Small Axe Farm have transformed their quarter-acre homestead garden on a south-facing hilltop in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom into a 1-acre market garden grossing over $230,000 in annual sales. In the beginning, the

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Cucurbit seedlings growing in a greenhouse.

“Signs of Spring”

What follows is a collection of stories submitted by readers in response to the theme of “signs of spring.” Years ago, when our sons were still very young, we walked into the woods on a quiet spring morning. Two magical things happened. The first made me stop in my tracks and listen, listen, listen. The

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Harvest of the Month Leafy Greens June

Farm and Sea to School Collaborations in Maine

By Tim King Robin Kerber, the Maine Department of Education Farm and Sea to School coordinator, says energy to build on past successes for farm and sea to school relationships has been accelerating the last several years.  One indicator of that, she says, is growing participation in Maine’s Local Foods Fund. In the 2021 school

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a large head of yellow cauliflower surrounded by green wrapper leaves

Serving Time and Good Food at Mountain View Correctional Facility

By Sonja Heyck-Merlin Photos courtesy of Mark McBrine Monday is pasta night at Mountain View Correctional Facility in Charleston, Maine. And it isn’t SpaghettiOs or canned ravioli. There are two kitchens and two dining halls on the sprawling hilltop campus where on clear days Katahdin can be seen looming in the distance. One facility is

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What follows is a collection of stories submitted by readers in response to the theme of “preserving.” For me, August of each year begins canning time. I learned how to can helping my mom in the 1950s. Then in the 1960s I struck out on my own with books from the New Hampshire extension office.

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3 Level farmers

Creating a Multi-Family Farm at 3 Level Farm

By Tim King  When Kim Patnode and Christopher Hahn came separately to 3 Level Farm in South China 11 years ago, they were acquainted with each other but had no idea what the future would bring. Hahn had just purchased the 143-acre farm, formerly known as French Farm, and imagined it supporting multiple enterprises, more

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arnica blossoms

Meeting House Herb Growers Collaborative

Bringing More Organic Herbs, and Herb Growers, to Maine By Sonja Heyck-Merlin The 25 members of the Meeting House herb growers collaborative talk enticingly about their plant medicines: whether it’s the sticky, resinous calendula buds or the tufts of crimson bee balm flowers reminiscent of an ‘80s rockstar hairdo. They’re equally passionate about the unassuming

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People sit at picnic tables and on hay bales at the Common Ground Country Fair

“Common Ground”

What follows is a collection of stories from MOFGA members, staff, volunteers and the community in response to the theme: “common ground.” These stories first appeared in the MOFGA Stories segment in the fall 2022 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. I went to my first Common Ground Fair sometime around 1992. I

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Raven on a fence post surrounded by blackberries

Morgan Cameron Wins 2022 Common Ground Country Fair Poster Contest

By Holli Cederholm  Morgan Cameron paints animal portraits in oil, and has a special love for horses. As a child, Cameron, now 30, spent her summers and afternoons on her grandparents’ 100-acre farm in Dover-Foxcroft getting to know an array of animals that became inspiration for her artwork, including dogs, cats, cows, rabbits and her

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Apple grower Michael Phillips

A Tribute to Michael Phillips (1957-2022)

By John Bunker The orchard community suffered a terrible loss this past winter when orchardist, author and educator Michael Phillips died unexpectedly one night out in his northern New Hampshire orchard. Many of us in Maine knew Michael from his regular visits to teach workshops at MOFGA. Others who never had the good fortune to

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