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!


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.


the movement to turn church land into farmland

posted June 17, 2018

In March of this year, we along with our partners, sponsors and friends held the first FaithLands gathering hosted at Paicines Ranch in March 2018. Organized by a small group of dedicated faith and land access leaders, the gathering brought together 30 multi-faith participants from around the country working at the intersection of faith, ecological stewardship, and farming.

In planning for the gathering we came together and spoke about the great potential and needs for these groups to work together. We recognised that religious bodies hold a lot of legacy land and that this land can be used for creation in a way that benefits all members of a community. Tied into this hope was an acute awareness that this process needed to be nurtured.

Civil Eats published an article recently about faith lands. A number of the organisers and participants of the gathering and featured. They speak about the work that they are involved in and other work that is being done between farmers and churches across America. It’s well worth a read! We are so proud to have been given the opportunity to be part of this gathering and are so excited to see what comes next!

“FaithLands attendees left with a list of commitments to pursue. The Greenhorns are creating a guide to working with local churches, and they’ll present on the topic at upcoming EcoFarm and Biodynamic Association conferences. Inspired by the New York City-based 596 Acres, a group of Catholics committed to mapping Catholic Church-owned land that might be suitable for sustainable agriculture, a steering committee coalesced to articulate the shared values and theological principles (across faith groups) that inform and inspire the FaithLands movement. And farmers like Moses Kashem will coach other beginning farmers on forming fruitful land partnerships with churches, especially when it comes to securing long-term leases.”

Click HERE to read the full article.


the first of the summer events – gps for beginners june 10th

posted May 29, 2018

There are less than two weeks to go before we kick off our jam packed summer events schedule in Downeast costal Maine! First up on June 10th is GPS for Beginners, led by Markley Boyer. This workshop will be particularly useful for agrarians, young and old who are looking to more efficiently use their land, as well as those interested in cartography and topography.
(more…)


bicimakina: biking across the US celebrating alternative uses for human-power

posted May 15, 2018

credit: bicimakina

 

You may be familiar with Farm Hack, started by Greenhorns founder Severine. Farm Hack is a worldwide community of farmers that build and modify their own tools (including a few bicycle based tools like the bike tractor). But have you heard about Bicimakina? Bicimakina is a community of makers, educators, and enthusiasts all joined by a common love of human-powered machines. Pedal-powered blenders and hand-cranked grain mills are just a few of the awesome machines that these guys have come up with. Their mission is to create a renaissance of interest and exploration into human-powered technology.

This fall, the Bicimakina team are leaving Oregon and heading across the US on an epic bike trip to find and interview other like-minded Human-Powered Machine users and builders. If you are one of these minded people get in touch with them and tell them about your project and they might just come to you! Their trip will take a year, and their exact route will be determined by the locations of the people who are going to be on the show but their goal is to do a full loop across the US.

Check out their website HERE


newsletter: summer schedule….and more!

posted May 8, 2018

Hark the peeps!

Sniff the earth!

SHE IS HERE!

In this edition:

  • Greenhorns summer schedule
  • Sources of hopeful and useful news
  • Engagement opportunities with Greenhorns

Summer Schedule

As you know Greenhorns has recently moved our headquarters to ‘Reversing Hall’ , an old Odd Fellows Hall in Pembroke, Downeast Maine. To celebrate and showcase our beautiful and historic HQ we will be hosting an array of summer workshops and camps that support the entry of young people into sustainable agriculture in Pembroke this summer.

June:
GPS for Beginners  June 10th

 

Our teacher is Markley Boyer, conservationist and adventurer and we will be learning how to use digital mapping, remote sensing, large-scale print-outs and plain old drafting paper to create working farm management plans. We’ll use great software to access different layers of information (soils, tax maps, etc). The resulting maps/farm plans can be used for grazing management, organic certification, trail-making, agroforestry, monitoring seaweed harvests and other aquatic users, and includes multi-layered data about weather, wildlife and other phenomenology.

We will work with a variety of tools, comparing best uses. From Open Source: Farmier, Gaia Maps, Pasturemap, Prospect, maybe even a tiny bit of google maps. We have a few lender-laptops for those who need, if you have a laptop please bring it. Class size is limited, scholarships available. $40 to register: office@greenhorns.org

One day short-course in Scything: June 15th

Taught by scything legend (and neighbor farmer) Jim Kovaleski and Carol Bryan of Scythe Supply. You will learn to manage fencerows, roads, paths, lawns, orchards – all without motor noise! Find the optimal physics, the romance of the swing, and learn some small tricks for sharpening and blade maintenance. (If you are coming from away, plan to arrive the evening of June 14th)

No purchase of Scythe is required, but all equipment will be available for sale. The daylong course costs $20 for downeasters/$40 from away, and includes camping, picnic lunch, use of outdoor kitchen.

Trail building theory and practice workshop: June 16th & 17th

Hosted by:
– Brannan Buehner of Owl and Bear Tree services,
– Connor Stedman of Appleseed Permaculture,
– Deirdre Whitehead, Maine Coast Heritage Trust land steward

All animals and all empires understand the power of the trail – but do you? We’ll cover siting and planning, tool-use, wet-area materials, underbrush and trail-edge management. Reading slope, topography, landform– what does the land want? How can we design a sensuous slalom, with just enough intervention and design? We’ll do some wildlife trailing and tracking, noticing how animals use the landscape, where do they congregate, over-winter, nestle-down. How does this relate to our own goals, for hunting, for under-story herbalism, for siting our pathways across the forest?

Join 3 experienced trail-makers as we cover theory, tools, practices and implementation in a very beautiful Maine forest. We’ll create some trail earthworks (swales, drainages, water-bars, brush-piles and brush-gabions) that prevent erosive decline of the trail-way, and discuss remediation for old lumber roads. The techniques of trail-making can build skills relevant on self-willed as well as domesticated landscapes, today’s meadows are yesterday’s woodlands. From here, we can begin drawing the forest-habitat back out into the meadows with agroforestry planning. YES! We will actually make trails through a beautiful forest on a salt-water farm in Downeast Maine and you will gain serious confidence to make better trails in whatever forested landscapes you call home. (June 15 afternoon/evening arrival)

$25 downeasters/$60 from away for the two day course, includes all meals. Scholarships available, email: office@greenhorns.org

Wild and Cultivated Algae: Seaweed workshop #1: June 23rd

This will include a full day session with Sarah Redmond and special guest teachers which will feature:

  • Presentations and Slideshows at the Reversing Hall, field study on the shore.
  • Orientation to the Inter-tidal, marine biology
  • Introduction to wildcrafting and farming edible seaweeds.
  • Look at the history of seaweed aquaculture around the world.
  • Looking at the potential for seaweed aquaculture 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, look at seaweed 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 Maine seaweed sector 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.

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

July

– July 21st – 22nd: “Halls away Downeast” – A bus-your of historic halls from Ellsworth to Eastport, Maine.

August

– All of August: Blueberry Camp!
– August 5th: Blueberry Wine Workshop
– August 17th – 25th: Sail Training Camp – Downeast Foxfire with Arista Holden

September

– September 7th – 9th: Edible Wild Plants and Mushrooms in the Maine Woodlands and Wildlands – with Russ Cohen and Peter McCoy

October

– October 13th: Wild fruit vinega! Making apple cider vinegar on a homestead scale.

Emma made a nice calendar online where you can view the full line up.

We’ve also got a few hovering workshops on natural beekeeping, oystering and another one on seaweed ecology…so stay tuned! We will be posting them on social media and the online calendar.

Sources of hopeful and useful news

Given the state of the world, we are finding that without some effort we fall into a NYTime/NPR/Guardian votex of headline -in the time that could be spend on personal research and inquiry on topics relevant to intervention. Therefore we have been taking the effort to catelog alternative sources of new and learning which can occupy the ‘news curiosity’ in a more uplifting and fulfillling manner You get the drift?

Global Sisters Report – news from nuns around the world.
Reveal – a podcast from the Centre for Investigative Reporting.
Down to Earth – a podcast from Quivira Coalition
The new food economy – a slightly bitchy new online food and farm news source, we love them!

Here is a list of others that you should check out too!

Purple Pitchfork
Heritage Radio Network
Farmer to Farmer Podcasts
Permaculture Voices
Farmstead Meatsmiths
Ileia magazine
The Ruminant
Radio Cate/ Down to Earth
NextEconomyNow Podcast
Delicious Revolution Podcast
The Daily Yonder
Civil Eats
Ag Insider
Tilth Online
Perennial Plate videos
Rural in These Times newspaper
Rural Roots Film Festival
Farmerama Podcast

Engagement Opportunities

Sought: EXPERIENCED and EXCELLENT volunteer proofreader/final editor for the forthcoming Greenhorns guide to Food Logistics. You will work in partnership with Claire and Leah the authors, to bring to final perfection our new guidebooks as we head into layout and art production. It says volunteer, but we’d be very willing to barter you a free tipi-weekend with blueberries and boating for your family. Email office@greenhorns.org

Sought: Part-time Spring/Summer Greenhorns! We’re looking for a few good part time residential workers to help with establishing our summer camp infrastructure, cataloging the library, preparing the hall for the new office and our summer programs. We can also help you find other local work around here in Downeast Maine…there are wonderful local organic businesses to chose from. Get in touch now! with your resume and cover letter. Early birds et their first choice of bay-view tend platform. We are looking for motivated, happy, helpful and kind-spirited Greenhorns for our new home, we had such delightful winter helpers..and now the sun is shining and the air is warm! Email office@greenhorns.org

Sought: micro-part-time Greenhorns bloggers, please get in touch with Emma@greenhorns.org, blog maven about contributing to our beloved blog. Usually it’s a 1-2 hour a week commitment and gives you a chance to peer into an amazing trove of news items!

Looking forward to a very busy summer!

Thanks to our crew,

Soraya Farivar – Former intern, current Greenhorn
Ethan Bien – OurLand
Arista Holden – Downeast Fox Fire Sail Camp
Briana Olson – Almanac Editor
Katie Eberle – Almanac Design
Leah Cook & Claire Cekander –  Greenhorns Guide to Food Logistics
Emma O’Leary – Administrative Director
Ian McSweeney – Treasurer
Severine Fleming – Director

Donate to help the Greenhorns continue with our important work. Please click here and feel happy that your support is shared (8%) with our new fiscal sponsor MOFGA (Maine Farmers and Gardeners Association)


the maine rice project is looking for land!

posted April 25, 2018

You may remember our previous post about The Maine Rice Project. Their goal is to get as many farmers and folks  as possible eating and growing rice throughout Maine, the Maritimes, and the Northeast. They recently received a grant from Maine Technology Institute to expand their rice growing operation and are looking for help finding new sites to expand to.

For the past five years the project has been based out of Wild Folk Farm in Benton. During that time the Ben and Asher  have successfully shown that rice can be grown in Maine, and that there is a market for it. They have expanded from one small experimental rice paddy, to 2/3 of an acre in rice paddy cultivation, producing 3,000 pounds of rice annually and have learned a lot along the way. Right now demand for their rice is surpassing what they can supply at our farm (how awesome is that!).

This summer the search is on for new locations in the state of Maine on which to build a bigger, better rice paddy system. They are looking to partner with existing farms interested in incorporating rice paddies into their farm operations and/or leasing land to grow rice. The rice paddy system they are planning to build will be in the range of 1-4 acres, and site work is expected to begin spring of 2019.

Paddy systems will be built and designed based on individual site characteristics, working with farm owners to ensure designs integrate well into their current operations. One of the advantages of growing rice in Maine is that rice paddies work best in poorly drained, clay rich soil which do not typically suit growing vegetables and other crops. There is plenty of this kind of soil in Maine.

A good rice paddy site will need to have the following basic characteristics:
1) Clay Soil
2) Uphill pond with good capacity, or place to dig one
3)  slight slope for water management
4) Zone 4b or warmer

For more information visit: wildfolkfarm.com or email: wildfolkfarmers@gmail.com


first draft of the next farm bill just released

posted April 13, 2018

Farm Bill Swiss Army Knife

Yesterday, the House Ag Committee released their first draft of the next farm bill, which when passed will be in place until 2023. 

The process required for the farm bill to pass is as follows:
1. The House Ag Committee releases their draft.
2. The committee meets for “markup,” when they suggest and vote on amendments – This is scheduled for next Wednesday,
3. The amended draft goes to the House floor to be voted on. At this stage, any member can introduce an amendment which will then be voted on. Once this process is completed the House will vote to pass a revised version of the farm bill.
4. After the House stage, a similar process will be followed in the Senate.
5. The final stages of passing a bill into law include the conference committee before the final vote.

(more…)


four farm school fellowships available – apply before february 15th!!

posted February 8, 2018

The Farm School is offering 4 exciting new fellowship positions in 2018!

Program for Visiting Schools Fellowship for Farm-Based Education Leaders:

Two of the new Fellowships available from The Farm School invest in training and mentoring the next generation of farm-based education leaders. The focus of the fellowship is on developing practical agricultural skills, production experience and exposure to The Farm School’s nationally recognized Program for Visiting Schools.

The Farm School will award up to two full scholarships (including tuition, room and board, books and materials) to our year-long practical training in sustainable farming to compelling applicants who communicate a clear vision for connecting young people to the land through farming. They should also demonstrate that they possess leadership potential to either start a farm-based education organization in the future, or to manage and shape an existing program at another institution.

Doune Trust Fellowship for Community Agricultural Leaders:

One full scholarship is available for a uniquely bright and compelling student representing an underserved community. The recipient of this fellowship should have great potential to serve or lead that community agriculturally. This scholarship carries the full value of the student farmer tuition contribution, including room, board, books and materials.

Willow Tree Fellowship for African American/Black, Hispanic/Latinx and Indigenous Farmers:

One full scholarship is available for a student who identifies as African American/Black, Hispanic/Latinx or Indigenous and who demonstrates particular promise to make good use of the Learn to Farm Program’s agricultural training. This scholarship carries the full value of the student farmer tuition contribution, including room, board, books and materials.

The closing date for these fellowships is FEBRUARY 15th SO DON’T DELAY!
Click HERE for more information on eligibility and how to apply.


farminaries – from souls to stomachs, seminaries are looking to expand their reach

posted February 1, 2018

credit: CasarsaGuru / iStock

There is a growing recognition in both the faith and farming communities, of the opportunities for both to work together. Greenhorns recognized this and partnered with members from a diverse range of faith communities to hold our Faith Lands conference in California this coming March. We have connected with farmers and faith leaders from all over the country. Together we will discover what works and what does not with these two communities come together. Our partner in this work Rev. Nurya Parish of Plainsong Farm & Ministry  drew our attention to a recent article written by Kendall Vanderslice for Christianity Today about this idea of Farminaries that is spreading across the country.

Farminary

“Throughout his time in seminary, Stucky had dreamed of teaching theology on a farm—or a “farminary,” his colleagues joked. Intrigued by this vision, Barnes began to explore rumors that the seminary owned a nearby piece of empty property. The seminary purchased the plot in 2010 from a friend of the school, hoping that one day the property could somehow contribute to the mission. For four years, it remained nothing more than an asset on a spreadsheet. As Barnes later discovered, the 21-acre field was already zoned for agriculture, and Princeton’s Farminary Program was born.”

Click HERE to read the full article.