Continuing with the trend of the post I wrote last week about organic farming in Maine and some of the new initiatives that are being taken to encourage consumption of that market, this week I would like to focus on one of the largest misconceptions about farming in Maine: that it cannot be done year round.
This misconception can also lead people to believe, incorrectly, that organic foods then are too expensive for the average person who is likely budgeting for food for their household week in and out. The typical consumer would believe that their only option would be to simply revert to purchasing foods from a supermarket or local grocery store which has year-round contracts with external producers.
The fact of the matter is that farming can be done year-round in the state of Maine, and organic and healthy foods can also be provided every day of the year.
This theory has been tested and proven by Eliot Coleman who has been farming in Maine all his life, has proven that it is not only probably, but also quite practical, to grow produce all 12 months of the year.
His methods include using devices called Hoop Houses to shelter his crops from the harsh Maine Winters which essentially are just miniature versions of large, scale green houses. The design calls for a series of 1 3/8-inch-diameter metal poles, and 6 millimeter thick plastic and Agribon to sheath the plants but still allow sunlight to pass through the protective covering.
He also puts heavy emphasis on the revitalization of the soil he uses to grow his crops in. By constantly replenishing their nutritional supply with manure and other soil-enhancing natural nutrients, Coleman has essentially turned his whole farm into a 10-inch deep, 1.5 acre compost box, which is constantly producing wholesome, organic produce.
Skeptics of this idea that need to only look at the income created by Mr. Coleman’s Four Season Farm in 2011, which “grew” an incredibly impressive $120,000. All of this, with the exception of $25,000, Mr. Coleman chooses to then “ploughs” back into his farm to ensure that it is able to continue producing the best possible organic foods that it is capable of.
Coleman also stated that he has never had a problem with insects and thus, has never needed to rely on any form of pesticides to protect his farm from an invasion. He believes that this is because insect reproduction depends very heavily on the environment of unhealthy plants and that his farm is not conducive to this requirement.
While this notion may seem like a bit of a stretch, again, the fact that Coleman has never had an issue with insects on his farm is quite suggestive that he may in fact be on to something with his theory.
Also worth noting here is that both Mr. Coleman and his wife who assists him on the farm, ages 73 and 69 respectively, are both very healthy and are not dependent on any form of pharmaceutical medications.
As you may remember from reading my previous blog posts, individuals who adopt a more plant-based diet (and particularly an organic one to boot) are incredibly more likely to lead a better lifestyle and be at a significantly lower risk for health problems in their future.
Coupling this fact with their incredibly active farming lifestyle and you have the makings for individuals who are at the top of the health charts for their ages across the board.
In closing, I believe that more Mainers should take up an initiative like Mr. Coleman and his wife have to either support more year-round organic farmers in Maine or start organically farming their own produce. In doing so, the state as a whole would be better off as we would be able to support our local producers, increase our GDP and increase our overall health levels in all ages and categories for Maine.
[The information from this post was composed by and is attributed an article in the New York Times on the following link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/23/garden/living-off-the-land-in-maine-even-in-winter.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&%5D