The Irresistible Fleet of Bicycles

new blog: top regenerative agriculture videos

posted August 1, 2018

Friend of the Greenhorns Ethan Soloviev has just relaunched his new blog after a 10 year hiatus from writing. His new blog will focus on regenerative agriculture regenerative business and life! We are so happy to welcome him back to the writing world and are very excited for his upcoming guest post for the Greenhorns blog! In anticipation, we are sharing his recent post “Top Regenerative Agriculture Videos”.

Ethan spoke to twenty thousand people and asked them for their top 3 videos that they would show someone to introduce them to regenerative agriculture. Out of all of the responses that he received, he has compiled 2 categories, each containing 3 videos. The first category is “Start Here” containing videos that are 20 minutes or less long. The second category is “Go Deeper” and contains 3 videos that are an hour or more long.

Check out Ethan’s original post to see his methodology, comments and selected videos HERE. We have included one of the “Start Here” videos Life in Syntrophy above. “Life in Syntropy” a short film, released in 2015 by Agenda Gotsch. It was made specially to be presented at COP21 – Paris. It compiles some of the most remarkable experiences in Syntropic Agriculture including interviews with those intimately involved in life in syntrophy.


Blueberry Camp!

blueberry camp flyer
Blueberry Camp!

Arrange to camp at Smithereen Farm to harvest your own blueberries and make your own jam in our beautiful new timber-frame kitchen. DIY Blueberry Commons. Bring your own tent, jars and sugar, come explore the beautiful Cobscook Region on a low impact family holiday! You can enjoy the Greenhorns Agricultural Library and our little improvised tourist office at the 1901 Odd Fellows Hall, go hiking, biking, kayaking, exploring New Brunswick and etc! I made a little tourist page on the website: www.smithereenfarm.com

– Buy your provisions locally at Whole Life Machias, Machias Marketplace, Eat Local Eastport, Lubec and Eastport Farmers Markets and at the Tide Mill Farm farm stand! Washington County is far away, but this landscape is wealthy in wild foods, and utterly worth the trip up. “Drive like a champ, eat like a king.”

$50/ night includes, tent platform, use of the timber-frame kitchen + stove, composting toilet, hot shower bathhouse, and all-access to the blueberry commons.

Come check out our Blueberry Wine making workshop on August 5th, we have just reduced the price to $20!

blueberry wine


solar farm in oregon tackling fossil fuel dependence and colony loss

posted July 26, 2018

solar apiary
credit: SolarCulture

SolarCulture (a PineGate Renewables project), is an initiative developed to enhance environmental stewardship, promote sustainable agriculture, and collaborate with the community to support research with a goal of encouraging smarter solar through science. They have just recently opened a solar apiary in Jackson County, Oregon. The project is two pronged, it aims to tackle both our fossil fuel dependance as well as our rapidly declining numbers of bees.

After examining the site’s seed mix, vegetation management plan, and early growth of native flowers and grasses, John Jacob of Old Sol Apiaries determined the site would offer safe refuge for his 48 hives of honey bees.

“In 2016/17, Oregon beekeepers reported losing nearly one-third of all honey bee colonies statewide,” said Jacob. “The pollinator-friendly solar sites Pine Gate Renewables is developing can play an important role in helping address the population crisis among our managed and native pollinators.”

Data from the UK shows that pollinator-friendly solar arrays result in increased abundance of bees and other insects, which can provide important pollination and pest management services to crops. “Examining the Potential for Agricultural Benefits from Pollinator Habitat at Solar Facilities in the United States,” a recent peer-reviewed study published in Environmental Science & Technology, identified more than 16,000 acres of pollinator dependent crops in proximity of 204 megawatts of solar arrays throughout Oregon.

Praised by several of the nation’s most prominent entomologists, including MacArthur “Genius” award recipient Dr. Marla Spivak and Presidential Medal of Science recipient Dr. May Berenbaum, pollinator-friendly solar arrays are different than traditional arrays. Pollinator friendly solar sites use low-growing meadows of native flowers and grasses to enrich top soils, capture storm water, and benefit pollinators. All SolarCulture sites meet the specific criteria established by entomologists to qualify as pollinator-friendly.

(more…)


maine rice project still searching for land

posted July 24, 2018

We’ve written about the Maine Rice Project before, it is a non-profit with a mission to get more people to grow and eat sustainably grown rice and grain throughout Maine. It is the brainchild of Ben and Asher of Wild Folk Farm in Benton, who have shown successfully that rice can be grown in Maine and that there is a strong market for it. Their original small experimental paddy was 2/3 of an acre but demand has outstripped supply and they are looking for new sites to help them expand their project. The grant that they received form Maine Technology Institute has allowed them the financial flexibility to do just this but they still need land!

“A good site for a paddy will have clay soil, an uphill pond with good capacity, a slight slope for water management and be identified in the United States Department of Agriculture’s plant hardiness map as in Zone 4b or warmer. For farmers who can and want to grow rice on their farms, Rooney and others from the Maine Rice Project will work with them to design and build paddy systems based on individual site characteristics. Some of the knowledge of how to build paddies on Maine farms came from his own years of trial and error at Wild Folk Farm, where rice growing began somewhat experimentally.”

If you have land that meets the requirements of the project that you would be interested in leasing, get in touch with Ben by email at wildfolkfarmers@gmail.com

Bangor Daily News has recently published an article about the project, check it out here!


July 21st-22nd Friends of Liberty Hall and Greenhorns present: “Halls away Downeast” – A bus-tour of historic halls from Ellsworth to Eastport, Maine

Join us on July  21-22 as we present a tour of the civic architecture of Downeast Maine in partnership with Friends of Liberty Hall, a newly restored hall in Machiasport Maine. Along with other partners and presenters we will proceed from Ellsworth IOOF across Franklin, Cherryfield, Columbia Falls, Mahiasport, Machias, Dennysville, Pembroke, Perry and Eastport visiting halls, granges, churches, taverns, school houses and other historic or revived community infrastructure along the route with a series of local interpreters. Attendees will learn about the work of the Downeast Salmon Federation and the Tides Institute, with a presentation about local food networks and Grange Hall restoration in Machias, a lecture about fisheries history in Eastport. We will be sleeping overnight at Tide Mill farm, an organic family farm that has been run by the same family for 9 generations! The tour delivers guests door to door all aboard the West bus, all meals and lectures are included.

Washington County

Washington County is host to extraordinary terrestrial and aquatic wealth which formed the the basis of powerful 19th century extraction economies ( lumber, fish). The communities who benefited from these resource based economies in turn used that wealth built outstanding social structures. The beautiful halls are irreplaceable yet endangered relics of this era, and are now part of our legacy to protect, adapt and re-imagine. These halls have such potential! Community efforts to date have kept these halls in good roofs and gutters. However, like small towns around the country Grange-revival and relevance comes from functioning kitchens, microphones, and activities that keep people engaged and sustaining these buildings can be expensive! There are existing grants from Maine Community Foundation, and other sources which can help non-profit and private projects. Renovations often emphasize restoration of kitchens, performance/office/community meeting space, and new uses for old buildings.


Friends of Liberty Hall

Founded in 2006, the Friends of Liberty Hall are dedicated to returning a major historic building to its former glory and making it a focal point for community prosperity through the fostering of activities related to the site’s unique cultural, artistic and environmental history.

Overlooking the site of the first American naval victory of the Revolutionary War, and built as the Town Hall of Machiasport in 1873, Liberty Hall is one of the finest examples of civic architecture in Maine. From the outset, the Friends have been actively working with local people and seasonal residents to raise funds to secure the building. In this way they have facilitated an ongoing, expansive discussion about the future use of Liberty Hall.

Between 2006 and 2008, almost a million dollars was raised through government grants, private funds and individual donations to return a precarious and derelict structure to its former glory. Two phases of a four-phase restoration project have been completed. The remaining tasks include the repair of the rear of the building and the full interior restoration.

Given its location on the edge of the Machias Bay, with its distinctive archaeological, environmental and historical character, and its unmatched size and capacity for meeting and theater space, Liberty Hall is a major resource that promises to benefit not just the immediate surrounding towns but populations across Washington County.

This event is co-sponsored by Cherryfield-Narraguagus Historical Society

Important Info:

Cost: $150 tax deductable donation requested. (Includes all meals, transportation, lectures and accommodations for a 2 day whistle-stop tour)

Location: Meet 8 am at the historical society Northeast Harbor or mid morning in Ellsworth.

RSVP required, limited spaces – email office@greenhorns.org asap to reserve your space now!


NYFC finding farmland workshop in Unity Maine – July 11th

posted July 6, 2018

National Young Farmers Coalition - finding farmland flyer
National Young Farmers Coalition – Finding Farmland

Calling all new and aspiring farmers! Accessing farmland is one of the most complex financial decisions that any farmer will make. The National Young Farmers Coalition, along with Land for Good, Maine Farmland Trust and MOFGA are hosting a land access financials training for farmers next week in Unity ME. It’s designed for aspiring and new career farmers who they want to help along their land access journey with confidence.

During the workshop you will learn about:

  • The various programs already available for farmers seeking land in Maine.
  • Creative methods of securing land tenure.
  • Financing and affordability tools.
  • Working with a land trust to find and acquire land.

The workshop is completely free and refreshments will be provided. Click HERE to register.

If you cannot make the workshop, NYFC have also set up this really cool and useful website to assist farmers in finding land and figuring out the financials of doing so. 


An Ode to the Scuffle Hoe

posted July 5, 2018

scuffle hoe image
Image: An ode to the scuffle hoe

An Ode to the Scuffle Hoe

What weapon this?
In tool section A
I’d not known to miss
Your smoothly slicing foray

Through the barely there weeds
Conspiring today for the weeks coming hence
O! Not so! – those ignoble plants!
Your sharp ring with ease
Hardly turning the soil, so graceful your dance
And happ’ly no more is that threat’nd advance

So simple so sweet!
Scuffle hoe mine
Not once did I meet
a tool so humbly divine.

Without your wise counsel
I must surely admit
To many a day set bent o’er rows
Picking and pulling many an ounce
Losing my patience and wanting to quit
This project of feeding a few hungry maws

So thank you, yes, thank you
My dear scuffly friend.
But –
I’ve hustled and huffled past my wits’ bend…

And now I am thinking about going to a no-till, dense planting strategy with intensive cover cropping and mulch application. So I’m not really sure how much I’ll use you anymore. But thanks for all the help, you really saved my back from a lot of strain.


permaculture farming, an introduction

posted June 29, 2018

credit: Brett and Sue Coulstock

Permaculture is essentially a design philosophy created for and typically applied to food producing systems. However it has also been translated for use in many other areas such as architecture, community building, and corporate structures. Permaculture, developed by Bill Mollison in the late 1980s in Australia, has been adopted and adapted by gardeners, farmers, and designers across the world in the years since. Many permaculture solutions mimic natural ecosystems by creating tightly interwoven environments where all parts support each other. For example, in wild ecosystems, monocultures don’t exist as they do in our gardens and on our farms. Highly diverse planting, called a polyculture, serves several functions. These include slowing pests by making it more difficult to find the next plant of the variety they feed on. With varied crops in one bed, soil life can be in better balance. One plant may be nitrogen fixing to the benefit of its neighbors while another might provide a trellis or shade out competitive weeds. The three sisters planting strategy (or guild as it is called by permaculturists) is a simple example of the benefits derived from polycultures.

Complexity and diversity are pillars of permaculture, helping create a stable, healthy system. The more opportunities for interaction – between plants, insects, birds and animals, the better. We see this in a pond setting. More activity and life occurs at the edge of the pond where the water and land meet than in the middle of the pond or on the land a few yards away from the pond. The biodiversity found on ecological edges helps keep ecosystems stable. When one organism, say mosquitos, experiences a population boom, a diverse ecosystem supplies the habitat that mosquito predators will be able to live in. Thus the frogs and toads living on the banks of the pond can leap into action to bring the mosquito population back under control. The same is true on farms. Many of us already know the benefits of having strips of wildflowers planted near fields of cash crops. Similarly bramble-y edges that provide habitat for birds will be protection against a sudden attack by locusts or other pests.

Permaculture adopts the attitude that the benefits of a diverse system outweigh the losses in terms of harvesting efficiency and the space that is often called upon to be wild habitat. For many permaculturists, the increase in biodiversity and stability of their sites bring increases in crop health, yield, and pleasure. Permaculture systems require often heavy front end work in terms of observing the site and the pre-existing forces at play as well as establishing the backbone of the intended system (earth-moving, orchard establishment, etc.). Once the system is established, however, the permacultural model aims to shift the bulk of labor back to nature and off the shoulders of the farmer or gardener. Farmers Masanobu Fukoka and Sepp Holzer have been utilizing permaculture strategies since before the term existed. Their farms are prime examples of the impressive results permaculture strategies can yield in even inhospitable locations.

Many permaculturists advise that the best way to learn is to observe nature at work and to start trying things. If you’re interested in reading more, however, check out the following books:

This post was written by the newest member of the Greenhorns Blogging Team Cambria Whitcomb! Cambria is closing in on the end of her first official year of farming. She grew up in a rural town in Michigan and is a graduate of the University of Chicago. After a stint in San Francisco, she has returned to small town life – now in North Carolina where she pursues a plethora of environmentally-focused activities. She is interested in combining her background in the arts with her love of farming and the belief that systemic agricultural shifts make the most direct path to improving the environmental crisis. (How exactly those interests will mesh remains to be seen!) Cambria’s favorite farm implement is the scuffle hoe and she once incorporated cow manure into an assignment for a college art class.


June 23rd Greenhorns and Maine Seaweed Exchange present: Wild + Cultivated algae: Seaweed Workshop #1

Join Sarah Redmond and a special guest teacher for a full day session about seaweed! This will include:

– Presentations and Slideshows at the Reversing Hall, field study on the shore.

– Orientation to the inter-tidal and the marine biology found there.

– Introduction to wildcrafting and farming edible seaweeds

– Look at the history of seaweed aquaculture around the world.

– Looking at the potential in Maine: opportunities and risks

– Introduction to the work of Elinor Ostrom on the Commons, and principles of community resource management

– Introduction to species, ecology, ethics, equipment, siting considerations, seasonality, harvest, processing.

– We’ll discuss bio-safety protocols, health and disease management strategies.

– We will talk about local economy, political ecology and learning our lessons from fisheries history in Maine.

– We’ll discuss what kind of policy is needed create a strong, sustainable and resilient sector in Maine that is inviting to young, conservation-minded mariculturists

– We’ll evaluate wild and cultivated products, discuss best practices and market potential

– We will have plenty of time for discussion.

Sarah Redmond is an entrepreneur, innovator, and seaweed farmer on the coast of Maine. Holding a Bachelor’s of Science in Aquaculture from the University of Maine, and a Master’s of Science in Marine Botany from the University of Connecticut, her work has inspired a domestic seaweed revival through her work at NOAA’s Maine Sea Grant program as a farmer, researcher, educator, and research specialist from 2012-2016. A recognized leader in the development of seaweed mariculture, she has helped establish farms and nurseries throughout the Northeast, inspiring others to love, grow, use, and appreciate our native seaweeds. She is currently working as a full-time seaweed farmer to develop a seaweed aquaculture industry in Maine that will produce healthy, nutrient dense sea vegetables, provide economic opportunities to coastal communities, and bring seaweeds to America in a clean, sustainable, and accessible way. She has a 24-acre seaweed farm in Downeast Maine where she cultivates dulse and four different types of kelp.

Farm lunch provided $200/Scholarships available office@greenhorns.org to RSVP


selling to restaurants: a farmer’s guide

posted June 22, 2018

Selling to Restaurants: A Farmer's Guide logo
Selling to Restaurants: A Farmer’s Guide

“Connecting with chefs and restaurants can be intimidating, and it can be hard to figure out where to start. Restaurants can become some of your most reliable customers, placing predictable orders on a regular basis which can help you plan your season and give you a solid base to grow from. Beyond this, restaurants can introduce your farm to a wide audience who may be interested in direct sales as well, either via CSA shares, farmers markets, or through local retailers.”

We came across this useful little 9 page guide written published by Local Food Marketplace recently. It gives hints and tips on how to establish relationships with local chefs, and find organisations who support local agriculture. It also offers practical marketing, promotion and business management advice. It’s a fantastic resource for those looking to start selling and marketing their produce for direct sale for the first time ,or those who feel like they could do with a little help. It’s also completely free. You can download it here.