This week I would like to elaborate more on some of the different programs that are available throughout the state for support in sustainable organic farming. The program I would particularly like to focus on this week is the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.
In my opinion this program is one of particular importance because not only does it advocate greater production and consumption of organic foods, it also emphasizes educational programs for organic farming in schools across the state.
Their educational program is called the Maine School Garden Network and its allocates roughly $60,000 per year to schools through revenues from the Maine Agriculture Specialty license plate sales. According to their website, 35 schools were given between $1,000 and $5,000 last year through these grant programs.
Funding for these programs go to starting projects that will put and emphasis on organic farming and allow students in various schools throughout the state to have a hands-on experience with organic farming and allow them to learn how to sustain an organic garden themselves.
If you have been following my blog at all, I do not need to list the ways that an organic diet has proven to increase the overall health levels of individuals of any age, gender, or prior health status.
Another important initiative that the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association has worked with is the Organic Farmer Loan Fund. This fund is intended to provide a loan to farmers that are specifically trying to convert to organic farming or start growing an organic farm.
This funding is intended to be used to purchase more organic-farming-specific capital expenditures which can sometimes differ for farms that are non-organic. The amount of these loans can range from $5,000 to $20,000.
Though there are several forms and processes that the farmer will be required to fill out and comply with, this program at least gives farmers an incentive to potentially experiment with organic farming, where they otherwise would not have.
The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association also participates in the El Salvador Sistering Project which partners with farmers from El Salvador to exchange and share organic and sustainable farming techniques with one another.
Maine sends delegates to El Salvador to see their growing techniques first hand while El Salvador sends delegates to Maine for the same purpose. Through these collaborative efforts, we have been able to successfully increase Maine’s organic farming efforts.
The MOFGA also has several other initiatives that is sponsors and supports including farmer apprenticeships, low-impact forestry, journey persons farmer training programs, and public policy initiatives.
Through the efforts of MOFGA, Maine has been able to see a successful increase of organic farming throughout the state.
In my opinion, Maine government should be funding grants for these types of programs more than it is. If we can advocate at a policy level the increase in organic and sustainable farming, our state’s overall health levels would increase. There are, of course, many other policies that must be carried out in tandem with this to see a strong impact, but it is my belief that the differences will be impossible to overlook.
If any of my readers are interested in learning more about the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, I would encourage them to check out their website at http://www.mofga.org/Home/tabid/74/Default.aspx