Mary Pols, Jan. 17, 2016, Portland Press Herald
An amazing cache of old seed catalogs – many of them local, beautifully rendered and full of clues to vintage varieties and growing methods – is now digitized and available to anyone with Internet access. And if it weren’t for a Mainer, the collection might not even exist.
The Internet Archive is a nonprofit digital archive that houses an astonishing collection of material, all downloadable, from Grateful Dead bootlegs to Charlie Chaplin movies to random 20th century software programs. Archive.org is like a flea market in the cloud, without price tags.
Among that ephemera is a treasure trove of more than 18,000 seed and nursery catalogs dating back to the 18th century, all digitized and uploaded by the National Agricultural Library over the last two years. Eventually, the entirety of the Henry G. Gilbert Nursery and Seed Trade Catalog Collection of more than 200,000 catalogs will be available for the public to browse electronically.
These catalogs, many of them beautifully illustrated, are more than just charming – they represent agricultural history. Their pages are littered with lost varieties and clues to how and what we grew in earlier centuries. They’ve always been available to the public, but until being digitized, that meant a trip to the fifth floor of the National Agricultural Library’s building in Beltsville, Maryland, where the originals are stored in an environment carefully controlled to high archival standards.
Now anyone with Internet access can see them. But if it weren’t for a Mainer born in Brunswick in 1878, this collection might not exist at all.
Continue reading HERE.
BROOKSVILLE, Maine — Rob Cushman believes there is a better way to kill farm animals than to load them in a truck and drive the anxious pigs, steers, goats and sheep to the nearest slaughterhouse, which in Maine can often be hours away.
That’s why he and Jake Hearst, both of Brooksville, have decided to turn their shared belief into a business. Blue Hill Itinerant Slaughter — known by many in the Blue Hill Peninsula as “A Kinder Kill” — is a mobile slaughterhouse that travels around the area to dispatch animals on the farms where they have been raised. While there are many such facilities in Europe and some in other parts of the country, they have not yet caught on in Maine. That is a shame, Cushman said.
In Maine, the bigger picture could definitely include more mobile slaughterhouses that would help farmers and homesteaders with the necessary and sometimes difficult task of killing their meat animals, according to Cushman and other local food supply activists. Under the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s on-farm slaughter exemption, Blue Hill Itinerant Slaughter is allowed only to kill animals for the personal use of the farmer or homesteader that hired them. They are not allowed to butcher the animals, Cushman said, adding that the most they can legally do is quarter and chill the animal.
To read more, click HERE!
About 96,000 pounds of Oscar Mayer Classic Wieners were recalled Sunday by Kraft Foods Group Inc. of Columbia, MO, because of a packaging error. Classic Cheese Dogs are contained in packaging for Classic Wieners.
That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet… well, not in this case. The packaging error means that the ingredients are not properly listed and a known allergen, milk, is not listed. The products were produced on March 2-3, 2014, a consumer who notified the company on April 18, 2014, discovered the problem.
According to Crown O’Maine Organic Cooperative, “Whether the ‘classic’ Oscar Meyer wiener in question is a cheese dog or hot, it is a classic tale of a food system so large we can barely imagine it.
96,000 pounds of wieners would fill 48 x 2000# pallets or 2 tractor trailer trucks.
96,000 pounds of wieners would give every public school kid in Maine 2 hot dogs.
96,000 pounds of wieners is roughly 548.5 pigs.”
STATE OF THE GRANGE
by Mary Pols
Originally Posted on the Portland Press Herlad
This week, the Maine State Grange holds its annual conference in Skowhegan.
What, you didn’t know?
Once upon a time, you absolutely would have known, because Grange was an integral part of Maine rural life, a gathering place for farmers and community members to share news, information and concerns. If you worried about being able to afford insurance or being ripped off by the railroad monopolies taking your agricultural products out of Maine, or just wanted to slough off your cares by going to a dance, you turned to the Grange. It did cooperative buys on insurance and seeds, lobbied Washington on your behalf and could always be relied on to feature a big empty room with a fine dance floor.
The ritual heavy, Christian-oriented and unusually progressive Grange (female members got the vote long before the rest of American women did) was the original Facetime for farmers. Or rather, “Grange.” Like Farm Bureau, Grange hardly needed an article. But consider this: The 2015 Maine State Grange conference is not being held at Skowhegan Grange, because declining membership caused that to close several years ago, although the building was saved and is being rehabbed.
There are two trends in Maine Granges. One is positive: Young or younger farmers are taking an interest in revitalizing the institution, fixing up old buildings; adding bathrooms where there were none; hosting farmers markets and contra dances; sharing Grange space with entertainment, as at the Wayside Grange and Theatre in Dexter; and returning to the cooperative model for better buying power for local farmers, hobby or hard-core, as at the Halcyon Grange in North Blue Hill.
But the second trend, the negative one, are Granges shutting for lack of membership, and that decline still outweighs the positive.
Read the whole article at the Portland Press Herald!
Photographer, Rose Marasco, has developed a large collection of photographs of the aging Grange halls of Maine. The halls in her photographs are at once regal relics of the past and a little spooky, leaving us both nostalgic and slightly unsettled by their slight disrepair. See a sampling of the collection on her website.
A limited number of signed exhibition catalogues are available and includes essays by Frank Gohlke, photographer and Elspeth Brown, historian. To purchase a copy for $20. + $5. shipping. Please contact Rosa at email@example.com if you would like one.
What do we at the Greenhorns love about a Farm Access conference? Oh, just give us a second to count the ways.
- The Farmland Access Conference will offer workshops and mentoring for farmers looking for land, landowners looking for farmers, and farmers looking to transition their land to a younger generation. And to start, we just love the idea that all of these people will have an other opportunity to be around the same coffee table.
- The entire day is COMPLETELY DEVOTED to strategies for increasing farmer access to farmland. Plenty of big conferences offer an hour-long workshop or two on this subject, but often they can only cover the basics in the time allotted. As anyone looking for land/looking for something to do with their land knows, the subject encompasses plenty of nuance.
- The agenda. It is. so. great. (Some workshop topic highlights: Protecting the Farm with an Agricultural Conservation Easement, Creating Successful and Satisfying Lease Agreements, and Innovative Land Access Strategies, to name a few.)
- The registration is an extremely reasonable $25, which covers not only entrance to the conference but also lunch.
The conference is happening from 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on Monday, October 19th at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, ME. Registration is now open at the sponsor organization Maine Farmland Trust‘s website.