Growing Food Security

A need to eat is one of our most basic necessities, and access to healthy, affordable food one of our most basic rights. Just as a number Americans, men and women alike, falsely believe feminist issues to be worries of the past, even more often forget where their food comes from. This is the effect of a trend of commercialization of agriculture which is quickly destroying the American way of life. Fortunately, brave young entrepreneurs are coming forward to stand up for small-scale, sustainable farming practices.

After Jessie Dowling earned her Master’s in Food Policy in London , she came to the realization that in order to be effective in food policy, she had to be “on the ground” and active in the agricultural community in order to make the impact she desired to make for the world. This sparked her subsequent decision to move to rural Maine, a place noted by NPR for having the greatest number of vegetable plots under five acres. Of course, since plants don’t spark Jessie’s interest, she chose to get on the ground by getting into the cheese-making business. She spent the next five years after completing her formal education working for, and learning from, Katharine Hunter at Appleton Creamery in Appleton, Maine. Soon after meeting Meg Liebman of South Paw farm in Unity, Maine, Jessie started her own business venture on the South Paw grounds. Fuzzy Udder Creamery was licensed this spring and is quickly gaining business.

While Liebman’s focus at South Paw has been vegetables and meat -pork, mutton, and goat- for both, the farm is an effort towards food sovereignty. Dowling, Liebman, and the many others who live and work on the fifty acre communal farm believe strongly in the benefits of small-scale organic agriculture. In her business plan for Fuzzy Udder, Dowling “only planned to have up to a third of my milk come from the farm” so that she could support other local milk producers while making her cheese. Buying local plays a vital role in supporting local economies and reduces carbon emissions, two important agendas to the young activists who call South Paw home.

Indeed, everything the young women of South Paw do is a kick back against the system which we all live in. They enjoy “proving we can do everything we need to without men,” an inspiring goal for some of the local students who have been employed there. Their work itself rebells against the patriarchy,  as these girls are willing to accept little help from men. They have taught themselves everything they need to know about farming outside the conventional system, from building a strong basis in their soil with cover crops and rotational grazing to how to market their products well. Through a CSA, or community-supported agriculture program, and selling at four local farmers markets each week, they make sure their food reaches other Maine residents.

There is a lot going on at South Paw farm, and little of it is easy. Liebman and Dowling share the burden of leading other vibrant young women into the future world of agriculture: one where we no longer have to fear corporate giants controlling what goes into our bodies or our environment.

By: Kelsey Schrey

What the Debates Forgot to Mention

“We need a revolution; that’s what we deserve. What we don’t deserve is pandering, irresponsible bullshit…”

Would you believe these words climbed out of the mouth of one of our current, 2012 presidential candidates? What if I told you they were born of a candidate who purposely got arrested to call attention to a volatile issue? My guess – you wouldn’t be able to wrap your brain around the idea of either Mitt or Obama getting arrested let alone using profanity.

There’s a good reason for that – you’re right.

With all the stuffy rhetoric flying around during campaign season passing itself off as real talk, a quote calling out pandering “bullshit” rushes in like a crisp autumn breeze, especially to the crowd of people just coming of age to vote in November’s highly contentious presidential election. Wondering why every news network station isn’t talking about it despite its controversial nature? They’re not doing so, according to Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, and Green Party candidate and professed bullshit caller-outer, Jill Stein, because that’s exactly what the two-party controlled system wants. To bolster this claim both offer that no other party but the prominent two, Democrat and Republican are debating on the national stage.

With a two-party system often in gridlock, one that leaves little room left for ideas outside the status quo, a breath of fresh air is what both of these contenders hope to bring to the race. Although we don’t hear much about candidates running on party tickets that are not of the prominent two parties, there is, in fact, a choice beyond the two. Thousands have signed a petition posted on requesting national debates be opened to third party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein for just this reason, however, unless a candidate is polling at 15% nationally, that idea is as good as trash.

This absence in the debates means the majority of people will never get a chance to hear Jill Stein speak about her platform of political and economic overhaul dubbed, The Green New Deal. Her platform, inspired by Teddy Roosevelt’s Depression busting economic reform, has all the stuff of trying to equal out the economic playing field while being dressed with a thread of environmental stewardship and democratic protection. This plan calls jobs for employable citizens a right and invests funding into sustainable energy technologies – including hemp. Sweeping reforms to the U.S. financial system through heftier bank regulations and wider debt reliefs are also a keystone of Stein’s plan. Last but far from least, The Green New Deal spearheads a program of democratic protections for individual citizens that includes revoking the highly controversial “personhood” of corporations as granted by the landmark Supreme Court ruling Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in January of 2010.

Gary Johnson, also slated to be on ballots nationwide, is running on a platform dedicated to rolling back the war on drugs, protecting civil liberties, and balancing the budget with tactics like reducing military spending by up to 43%, a move he clarifies will bring spending levels back to 2003, not to the “end of the world.” If you vote Johnson, you’re making a vote to take spending from foreign shores back to America through nation building – repaving roads, updating schools and hospitals, and rebuilding bridges. Johnson takes a hardline approach to freedom and looks at voting for the major two parties as akin to voting for tyranny, which he guarantees you can go back to voting for if you don’t enjoy his platform of “peace, prosperity, and freedom.” Speaking of peace, if that’s what you’re into, Johnson’s your man as he takes a non-interventionist approach to foreign affairs, regularly criticizing the United States’ use of remote drones to attack the Middle East.

According to both candidates, to deny a population of the right to hear their ideas is at its worst its own form of mental tyranny; people can’t vote for different ideas if they aren’t even aware they exist. Jill Stein and Gary Johnson will appear on at least 85% of ballots if not more in the way of write-in options come this November. Though many will throw out the argument that a vote for a third party candidate is a vote for the opposition, Stein and Johnson mutually assert that voting for either of the “Wall Street-sponsored” candidates is counter-productive to citizen prosperity. According to Johnson a vote for the Obama or Romney ticket is a vote for “heightened police states and indefinite military interventions,” and according to Stein it is no more than “a mandate for four more years of the same.”

By: Sass Linneken

Follow the Leaders: From Grass Roots to the Wilderness Beyond

Many of you believe in a brighter, cleaner future, one in which all places can be guaranteed a road to a better existence through reclamation, restoration and continued preservation. You can only hope for the compassion of others to help influence and appeal for the environmental changes you know are right for our planet. You look at even the narrowest of waterways and fields, over flown with the bi products of American industries, yearning for the public acknowledgement it deserves. “How?” you ask. “How can I exhibit conservation… where can I do my part?” Well environmental activism calls for many roles in local and global practices. There are many areas, even businesses outside of the naturalistic sort can contribute to the encouragement of a “greener” planet. It may start simply in the organization of your peers to pick up trash in those narrow ways between your streets or lead to greater investments of a global importance.

One notable grass roots success story is that of Ventura River, a river beyond the south side of Los Padres National forest. It flows down from the hills of mid coast California and into the Pacific Ocean just south of Santa Barbara. Land here is very valuable, its beauty invites the rich to gorge in over indulgencies and its climate and soil bring in some of the country’s largest agricultural production facilities. So with that it also breeds our western intuition, mankind’s aggressive need to generate more for the progression of sales. These needs combine and bring efforts for the construction of dams and the clearing of an immense amount of vegetation. And by the early seventies there were evident signs of waste in the water as it made its way to the ocean, following the current south to wash along the shores of Huntington Beach and Santa Monica, L.A.

But the fact that this might discourage any beach goers from a day in the sun isn’t what caught the attention of the locals in Ventura. It was the wildlife. One man was able to round the floodplains and go beyond the fences of the canals to peel back the artificial veil that labeled this area as a place to be exploited. He captured his reconnaissance work on film and revealed the river to be the home of still many raccoons, eels and even steal head trout. It was a shock to environmentalists in the area when the recording was shown at a meeting in town; they didn’t believe that anything could survive in such a starved place.

Among the audience was Yvon Chouinard, a legendary rock climber that started selling t-shirts out of his car and by this time had built a business selling a multitude of sportswear and gear by the label Patagonia. As a naturalist, who’s own backyard held the draining carcass of the Ventura River, Yvon became compelled to make a difference. He offered a room and a telephone that became the first location of The Friends of Venture River organization. Activism grew as attention to the threats at hand seemed to develop. The highway was going to be expanded to cross over the western end of the river so the organization worked along with the County Game and Commission in 1973 to catalog the first Preliminary Report and Proposal of Ventura River to prevent any future degradation of local wildlife.

These first few steps were taken by those directly related to the matter; they were people who spoke up because they knew something was wrong with where they lived. Not all of them dove into the river for a personal glimpse of natural disaster but it mattered to each of them. Yvon continued to care very much and as his business flourished his environmental influence did as well. In 1985 he made sure to donate 10 percent of profits to a number of Grass Root organizations just like Ventura. By 1989 Patagonia co founded the Conservation Alliance along with other retail companies including The North Face, REI and Kelty. This alliance is still alive today and now backed by one hundred and seventy other members. Together they grant threatened lands opportunity to regain biodiversity, by giving twice a year to any in need. In 2010 they estimated $900,000 in profits went to conservation work.

(If you are curious to hear of how other individuals/groups have taken part in aiding in grass roots environmentalism and how they made a positive impact on land management in their area. Then you will be happy to know that Globe Pequot Press managed to publish a book chronicling organizations funded by the conservation alliance and their environmental victories prior to 2001. It’s called Making a Difference: Inspirational Stories of How Outdoor Industry and Individuals are Working to Preserve America’s Natural Places.)

Most people are familiar with the work of founders Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia/Black Diamond Equipment and former owner Douglas Tompkins of The North Face. Their popularity stems from their contributions to modern fashion which both the adventurous and domesticated can agree is cutting edge in its recreational ability and tasteful. They have also recently gained a larger fan base after the production of 180 degrees south documented some of their achievements and followed them on an expedition to Patagonia. During one scene Doug implies that his reasoning behind leaving the industry was that it became a sensible act as a successful and what he called “powerful” man to take care of more important things than supplying those indulged in the latest trends. He is now leading the way for supporters in Chile, helping the Grouchos (Native Horsemen) take control of their pastures and support proper grazing standards. He has played a role in compelling activism in the area to attempt to cease any further construction of hydro-electric power plants and dams to support foreign power. And above all his most prized development is the formation of Corvacado Park, a 726,000 acre National Park gifted to President Lagos in 2005.

Doug and his wife Kristine only began their South American endeavor in 1992 when they created the Conservation Land Trust and since then they have dedicated twenty years and the rest of their lives to returning Patagonia’s ecosystem back to its natural inhabitants and encouraging the growth of the endangered within their nurseries.
Yvon continues to do his part as well. Wrapped up in synthetic poly and a wealth of puffy jackets, the grandfather of Yosemite rock climbing still gets out of the office to take on some big walls. River dam demolition, is another increasingly common practice in the last twenty years that when first purposed, perplexed even Bill Clinton during his presidency as it was ridiculed by newspapers and senators. The idea didn’t seem very much worth it but when actually completed it was proven to rehabilitate a habitat within a seasons change. The fish still know to swim upstream even if there have been over a hundred years of generations spawned elsewhere. This has brought Yvon back to his roots and reinstated his compassion for the trout of Ventura River. The Matalija Dam is his new big project but it suffers from the same issues other activist are having with old dams. The sediment build up on the inside of the wall has compiled under so much pressure that removal projects across the country are at a standstill.

If this has left you disappointed then please take some time to identify with this problem. Ask yourself how you could positively affect Ventura River or any endangered areas of your own. Do you have any background in Law or Biology? Do you have a camera and a hope to even just share what you consider an environmental priority? Are you a self made man or woman looking for the honest reward of humanity? Because whoever you are, you must know that it is not only the powerful that control this world’s fate. We can all work together to further preserve our lands including all those places outside of the American border, whose wonder is threatened just the same.

By: Calvin Tague

The great debate; train crash of modern day

Tuesday October 16th showed us the second presidential debate of 2012. Like many before this has been well publicized as a ‘heated’ race. Two strongly polar opposite candidates battling for the regarded seat in the country; they have been putting up quite the fight as evidenced again in this week’s debate.

Each debate has followed a different structure. In the first each candidate stood behind a podium. The second, each candidate was free to move around the stage and had chairs to sit in, each candidate could move around the stage at will. Both Obama and Romney can be seen to approach both styles differently, regarding actions and tactics.

1858 gave society the start of debates as we’ve known them for over a century. Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, two men running for senate in Illinois are noted as fore runners in debating as we know it. Lincoln challenged Douglas and they held seven debates in the style we know today. The two men were polar opposites on each issue. Any one at the debate could ask a question and each man had time to speak and time for rebuttal.

Following the political trail on the internet via sites such as; Slate Magazine, The Huffington Post, etc. paints the picture that our current candidates, and the past decade or more of their predecessors are pulling us further from the historic principles and practices of debates. The morning after the debate the internet was abuzz with talk about the “residue of negativity coating Election 2012” –Huffington Post, Negativity Dominates Campaign Cycle.

Slate Magazine, Huffington Post and other news sites were ready Wednesday morning with the interesting aspects of the debate.  Slate Magazine ran an entire article discussing the large amount of finger pointing both verbal and physical that was done by both candidates.  Huffington post’s article focused on Mitt Romney talking over the moderator and President Obama recurrently that evening.  The president was called out for doing exactly the same thing in an article that morning on USA Today online. documented the most unprofessional moments of the evening which according to their article; consisted of both candidates, squaring their chests and heading towards each other in a ‘bring it on’ manner. These articles can be best synthase quite well in’s title of their Wednesday morning article; “Presidential debate: ‘Real Housewives meets The Office’”

By: Brittany Groat

Mastering the Craft: MOFGA’s Apprenticeship and Journeyperson Program

Reaching back to the Middle Ages young adults have become first apprentices and then journeymen in order to learn their profession from master craftsmen. In an effort to reach out and educate young farmers, MOFGA has instituted the Apprenticeship Program, which is a program where young aspiring farmers can learn the craft of farming first-hand by living and working on a farm.

These apprentices will live on their chosen farm for a season while receiving varying provision, including housing as well as any farm food. Each farm is different; some will take on multiple apprentices while others are only looking for a single apprentice or even a couple. These apprentices are then housed, either in the main house, in cabins, or a set-up apprentice community and paid at a weekly rate. They will work hard on the farm covering most jobs including, seeding, transplanting, watering, weeding, harvesting, chores, and whatever else the farm needs done.

During this process these apprentices will not only learn how to run a farm, but will discover if farming is something that they would like to pursue. Running a full-time farm is not just a job- it is a lifestyle. This program makes sure that these apprentices are well prepared to go into the world and start their own farms.

Beyond the education of just living on a farm this program has meetings for the apprentices called, “Farm Training Project Workshops”, where all the apprentices from participating farms are invited to a specific farm each week to mingle, make contacts, and learn a specified lesson tailored to the farm visit. Bahner Farm housed the meeting on becoming Journeymen and taking the next step to becoming a farmer since they are one of the newer farms still working their way into living solely off the land. The meeting on horse-power farming was held at New Beat Farm in Knox, a well established horse power farm.

These meetings include demonstrations. A weeding seminar at Fisher Farm in Winterport introduced apprentices to new and old weeding tools, allowing the apprentices to test them and see which tools fit them best. Professionals in the field, such as experts and professors of Sustainable Agriculture teach these meetings. Any individual is welcome to attend these meetings and take part in its activities.

After the apprenticeship program a striving farmer can continue their study of sustainable agriculture through the journeyperson program. In this program, the journeyperson chooses a mentor who will watch over and check up on the new farmer. The journey people begin to work on their own farm, if applicable, and crop within this program. There are many benefits to this program including, mentorship, technical assistance, business planning, and help with getting established.

The journey people are provided with free access to any of MOFGA’s resources including, events, workshops, and conferences. They also receive an educational stipend of $500 per year, which can be spent on supplementary classes, workshops, conferences, reference books, and anything that is educational and useful to a farmer. The journey people also receive a group discount at FEDCO and Organic Growers Supply, as well as have access to MOFGA’s Organic Farmers’ Loan Fund.

I have witnessed the apprenticeship and journeyperson programs influence striving farmers by helping them to get started. These programs are very beneficial and allow a farmer to learn farming techniques before having to purchase land. This program is a great way for a farmer to prepare and discover whether farming is the right lifestyle and path for them.

By: Anna Mueller

Fair Season Meets Pizza at Common Ground

Harvest Moon Pizza logo

As you stroll down the shaded path with the twenty thousand other tourists that descend upon Unity, Maine each fall, the scent of a thousand delicacies wafts into your nostrils. The diverse food options available at the Common Ground Country Fair range from exotic Thai to classic Maine seafood, from locally-grown produce to mundane burgers and fries. Some more creative members of this culinary community here have turned to the mundane into the gourmet. Harvest Moon Pizza uses locally grown ingredients to give their customers unique pizza experience.

Fall is the season for fairs in New England, just as it’s the season for harvesting and putting up for winter. Standing in line for Harvest Moon’s pizza during Common Ground’s busy lunch hour, one can hear the same exclamation repeated over and over as the customers realize what’s on the menu: “Savory sage butternut squash sauce” with cheese is just one of the options for buying a giant slice of pizza. Their options also include sausage as an additional topping and red sauce for the more traditional pizza lovers.

These nomadic pizza makers are one of several pizza businesses in the state of Maine that uses a mobile oven, a big black hull with a gaping mouth. Watching a team work as an assembly line flip the dough, arrange and top the pizza, and feed it into the wood-burning oven entertains as you wait.

And wait you will. The Common Ground Fair attracts thousands, and most attendees are interested in celebrating local food culture. For Harvest Moon Pizza, unfortunately, the problem of the crowd was compounded by the size of the slice. Each pizza is cut into quarters and limits the number of customers who can be fed by one pizza to four.

Good things come to those wait though. The inviting, sweet yet savory flavor of the squash sauce reminds us that despite the day’s heat, autumn is just around the corner, and with it will come the winter squashes. The sausage gleams atop the cheese and coats the taste buds in savory juices. All this sits comfortably on a solid thin crust pizza that holds its own as you wander off to enjoy the rest of the fair.

By: Kelsey Schrey

Standing Out with Fall Fashion

“Daamn girl you look good today!” Now isn’t that something you’d like to hear while walking down the street this fall? Well fashionistas let’s get moving. Darker denim, deep teals, rich burgundy’s, even a splash or two of yellow or purple if you’re daring enough. This year’s fall fashion is all about the different colored denim.

Tops? Well you might be asking if I’m already working some new color on the bottom what am I supposed to do on top. Well stick with nude or subtle tones. You don’t want to be a walking billboard for the latest colors all at once. The tops for this fall are hot. Silky, flowy, chiffon tops that show through are what’s going to keep the guys guessing.

Now you may think that you’re too toned down for your own style; well that’s an easy fix. This year accessories are all about the shine and glamour. Bold, Bold, Bold. Make those accessories pop. Crystal earrings and rings, neon clutches and shoes. Fall has it in for us girls and in a good way. Make that style outgoing and make it your own.

By: Blythe Lalley

Need More Sleep?

Did you ever wonder why you have such a hard time getting up for 8am’s? Do you have that groggy, gross, “I just want to go back to bed” feeling? Same here! Don’t worry though it may not be our fault. Sleep studies have shown that there is a significant shift in our circadian rhythm, or sleep cycle in the teenage and early twenties years. Look, our bodies know what’s good for us and what’s not, and who agrees 8am classes are not?!

At our age we need about an average of 8.5-9 hours of sleep a night. Who has time for that? All the fun stuff happens at night, am I right? Well those fun things starting later on in the night aren’t just coincidence. Our melatonin levels are peaking between 11pm and midnight enabling us to be out till 10:30 having a great time. We are only starting to get tired later on in the night. So we all know what happens when you go to bed later, you wake up later. According to a Human Development professor, the normal time for this age group to be waking up, not in classes, is 9am. I don’t know about you guys but I am very okay with that.

By: Blythe Lalley

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