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Angela and Ben MackieAngela and Ben Mackie are the new farmers-in-residence at MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center in Unity. They are thrilled to be back in New England and putting down roots in Maine. Mackie Family Farm will be producing pasture-raised meats, medicinal and culinary herbs, and vegetables in its first year at MOFGA.

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As relatively new market growers, my partner Brian and I try to assess market gaps that may lead to potential niches for our budding business. In our 2010 inaugural growing season, we peddled our produce through a small CSA, two weekly farmers’ markets and a handful of wholesale accounts with natural food stores and restaurants. Of course we grew too much of some crops – and too little of others, including hardy vegetables destined for winter storage and, more importantly, winter sales.

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Boston Marrow squashDecember announces the arrival of seed catalogs. By early winter, most farmers and gardeners have put enough distance between the last growing season and themselves to start thinking about the next one. Some, like me, are even anxious to start formulating seed orders.

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Holli Cederholm and Brian St. LaurentEach September the Common Ground Country Fair attracts thousands of people to MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center – which happens to be my current backyard. As MOFGA’s farmers-in-residence, my partner Brian and I are beholden to the unique experience of sharing our farm site with three days of fairgoers, and several weeks of volunteers, right in the middle of the heavy harvest season.

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In talking with friends from my suburban childhood home about my post-college career path as an organic farmer, the last quality that any of them attributed to farmers is business savvy. In fact the composite group consisting of graphic designers, yoga instructors, plumbers, bartenders, and more than one office manager was quick to point out that I won’t be able to repay my student loans by selling vegetables at roadside markets. Although I was determined to prove them otherwise, I half believed them.

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At a conference this winter, keynote speaker Joel Salatin outlined a fundamental flaw of societal approaches to farmland conservation: The focus tends to be on the land itself, while Salatin believes that in order to preserve farmland, the stewards of such spaces must also be conserved. Fortunately for Maine, MOFGA is well ahead of the curve.

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As you may have read in the article "From the Farmhouse: First Year Lesson's Learned" in the Dec. 2006-Feb. 2007 issue of this paper, we had a great deal of success during last year's growing season.

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Kendra MichaudWhen the growing season here at MOFGA slowed down last fall, Clayton and I began building a wood-fired oven behind the farmhouse. Our reason was simple … I wanted to make good bread for us and our community. I have loved baking since I was very young, when I was inspired by my mom's wonderful, homemade bread.

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Chris CavendishChris Cavendish had his first market garden when he was 10 years old. Now, as the Farmer in Residence at MOFGA’s Modern Homestead in Unity, he is back at it.

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