For those of us here in Maine who are interested in growing our own food, organic gardening and permaculture methods, homesteading and a self-sustaining way of life, we are literally surrounded by resources. Historically a national supplier of agricultural products, the farming way of life in Maine has diminished in recent decades due to several factors.
Farming subsidies, originally created with the intent of assisting all agricultural businesses, now often cause disadvantages for small farms, promote mono-cropping and support only certain crops , and offer incentives for developing factory-farms. The lure of “progress” as defined by increasing mechanization and industrialization to increase production rate has pulled many farmers into cycles of debt, despair, and depletion of soil fertility. The mirage of sophistication associated with having access to exotic foods that are shipped globally has paved the way for cheap and abundant imports, displacing the demand for native foods.
Now that the tide is turning in favor of local foods, we find that Maine is poised to renew its tradition of abundant, organic food production, and has more than enough inspiration and rugged individualism to revitalize the farming way of life. In fact, its already happening.
The mission of the ADCG is largely to facilitate this renewal of the normal, organic ways of producing and consuming food. On site, we offer garden plots, workshops, tools, community gatherings, composting facilities, and demonstrations of different gardening methods. Off site, we have engaged our community by offering fresh produce to the OHCHS, the food pantry, and local churches, as well as talking to local food businesses about composting food scraps rather than adding them to the waste stream.
Gardeners at the ADCG are invited to call the Gardening Help Hotline at 207-539-9042 for additional support and advice. Our local permaculture experts Scott and Zizi Vlaun from the Center for an Ecology-Based Economy are happy to help you with any of your gardening questions while you are enjoying yourself at the Garden. Leave a message and number where they can reach you.
MOFGA provides Mainers with great farming and gardening network support, with workshops and events throughout the year. The University of Maine Cooperative Extension offers a breadth of information related to gardening and health, and has active program offerings locally in Oxford County.
A Waterford, Maine-based business called Solar Car and Tractor offers a neighborhood-scale thresher-winnower, which represents a brilliant response to the need for small-scale, affordable and locally manufactured food processing equipment. A lack of affordable food processing and storage facilities has been one of the main obstacles in supporting flourishing food production in Maine.
Our local scything expert Jesse Cottingham offers excellent educational and demonstrative workshops on scythe selection, sharpening, and use. You can learn about scything at Scythe Connection, or contact the ADCG for info about workshops and purchasing equipment. Jesse offers scything workshops at the ADCG that are free and open to the public.
Sometimes, getting food locally means going out of our way. We might have to make an extra trip to the Fare Share, wait until the farmer’s market is open in town, and we might not always find what we are looking for. It can be inconvenient. But remember, we vote with our dollars that are funneled through our habits, and when we buy a food item we are saying, “I like this product, I support its existence, and I most likely want more of it in the future.” When you buy local, you are literally casting a vote in favor of your Maine farmers and gardeners, and it is a powerful and effective statement; Economies and their respective methods depend on consumers, like you.