Miolea Organic Farm

  (Adamstown, Maryland)
Organic Farming from a City Boy's Perspective
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Agrication - [Ag-ri-kay-shun];  1. Verb;  The act of educating people about their food source and why the industrial food complex is doing the exact opposite.  2. Noun; One who takes a weeks vacation from their full time, off farm income job, to work full-time on the farm.

Iowa recently passed a law called the "Ag-Gag".  This law makes it illegal to go into large animal farms and slaughterhouses, undercover, to document animal and environmental abuses.  Seems the big concentrated animal farms are tired of being exposed for the deplorable conditions and actions employees take at their corporations.  Other states have tried to pass similar legislation and thankfully, have not succeeded.  This legislation was conceived and sponsored by ALEC.  ALEC stands for the American Legislative Exchange Council and is funded by some major fortune 500 companies.  What does ALEC do?  Basically it writes legislative briefs or whitepapers and lobbies for causes that benefit its sponsors. Their sole reason for existence is to influence politicos. 

All you need to know is the two middle words of their name.  Legislative Exchange, broken down; legislative stands for laws, exchange stands for what the corporations get from those changes in the law.  Okay, maybe I am the only one that sees the correlation between the former and the latter but it is too rich not to draw the conclusion or collusion if you will.  ALEC by the way was the chief architect of the “Stand Your Ground” laws. 

We have always been big into Agrication.  Besides being an environmentally sustainable operation our mission includes education.  We hold educational tours, seminars, speaking engagements and hands on classes.  More and more I am talking to people that get it and are asking informed questions.  Ten years ago conversations with customers centered on the type of vegetables and how they tasted.  Today people are more likely to talk about sourcing their food and sustainability.  I get plenty of questions about chemicals, general gardening, insects, native plants, humane farming, poly-cultures, colony collapses and other aspects of fruit and vegetable growing.  Agrication forms the backbone of helping people understand why industrial farming is harming our environment, making people ill and affecting the ecology negatively.  Our intent is to inform, if people decide to support their local farmers then in a big way the surrounding community has benefited.

We are in a major shift in our society’s way of viewing food and sustenance.  Books covering topics such as living off local food and sourcing your food have been great sellers and continue to be referenced. This has to happen if our future generations are to live in an environment that will not harm them because they breathe, eat or drink water. 

We all owe due diligence for our future generations, we cannot be so shortsighted and profit driven that we rape the very earth that will sustain our future family.  We learned from the dust bowl, why cannot we learn from castrated bullfrogs, feminized bass, upper-respiratory issues, food-borne allergies, illnesses, anti-biotic resistant bacteria and sometimes death.  What will it take?

Buy Local: There is too much at stake not to.


Inordinate Expectations

In an attempt to reach out to our community, and get help for the farm, I called the local high school and talked to the student-advisor of the “Future Farmers of America" club.  I explained that we were a local organic farm and wanted to know if any of the students would want to work on the farm.  We would pay for their labor and they would be able to satisfy school requirements.  At the end of the conversation, the instructor said she would announce the opportunity.  "But", she said, "you know how kids are today,” Yes, I knew what she meant; the majority of our youth spend too much time with electronics and social networking and little time experiencing their environment.  I also knew that most of the kids that want to be farmers today see themselves in air-conditioned cabs on large tractors and combines.  I do not have a problem with that, as long as they still want to farm.  We of course do not work in air-conditioned anything.  So, as it turned out, no one from the high school called.  That year we hired people from off the street.   


Not to be deterred, during the winter,  I researched the offerings of our local community college.  They did not have agronomy or animal husbandry but they did have a culinary arts program.  One of my thoughts was, "wouldn't it look good on a new chefs' resume that they worked on an organic farm".  So I called the community college, spoke to the head of the program, and sold my idea of an intership.  She then passed me to the head Chef.  


I talked to the head Chef and set up a time to come in and address his class. He agreed to setup an internship and I agreed to make sure they (the perspective students) met the requirements.  I had a twenty-minute presentation that ended with a technical look at eggs.  Specifically, the difference between store bought and free-range, organic eggs.  I made arraignments with Chef to have eggs available.  The last part of the presentation was going to be "show and tell".  I had brought a dozen eggs and had planned to open their egg and my egg and let them see the difference.  Then they could take the rest of the eggs and compare the tastes of both.  I talked about the difference of both on a fat, vitamin, cholesterol, omega three's and mineral level.  Then I opened an egg from the school onto a plate.  I then took my egg, opened it up and poured it out of the shell onto the other plate.   


There was an audible gasp from the students when they saw the color of the two yolks.  Then I started getting questions about if there was a difference when cooking with the egg.  I thought, "I got them" and I explained how the free range organic egg would give more lift because of the protein and how they would need to adjust bread recipes because of the fat or lack there of.  I also explained how hard fresh eggs are to peel once they are hard-boiled.  I taught them about the bloom and why an egg can stay fresh for three months without refrigeration.  Then I hit them with this line, "As a new Chef, whose resume would look better, one that has an internship on an organic farm or one without?”  


I thanked them for their time and left.  I felt good; my expectation was that I was going to get help for the coming growing season.  I had left our email address and phone number.  It was just a matter of time before I had help.  They earn college credits, money and experience with growing organic food in a sustainable environment.  The requirements were two days a week for three months.  Therefore, I felt good that night and waited for the calls to come.  Oh hell, you know where this is going so I will beat to the chase.  Let us just say I had inordinate expectations.


Buy Local:  You can help save the planet, think global, buy local.













We are Losing our Extension Agent

Cuts are taking place at all levels of government in our State.  Where the rubber meets the road, they are taking away one of the biggest knowledge resources in our State when it comes to small farming.  Our Extension Agent and his aide are getting the proverbial ax.  For those of you who do not know, the function of an Extension Agent is to be the knowledge resource in the County about all things agriculture, be it regulations, resources, methods, education or problem solving.   He or she is the one to go to and they can tell you the who, what, where and when of your answer. 

There is a letter writing campaign that is taking place and we have written to our county and state representatives.  Not one elected offical seemed to understand the importance of an extension agent to a small farmer.  Each and everyone pointed a finger up the line.  At least the ones that even took the time to respond.

It is quite dismaying.  Here is a man that has spent his entire life learning and teaching agriculture.  In the latter part of his career he developed a nationally recognized program for small farmer education.  It is a model which others teach.  We are where we are because of this man, and we are only one of many.  He is a resource, an inspiration, a cheerleader and above all, he is there for you with an answer to any problem you might have.  

He teaches the nutrient manamagement course - the same nutrient management course and program that is so important to saving the Cheasapeake Bay.  On one hand the State wants farmers to be responsible stewards of the the land.  On the other hand,  they are taking away the person who can teach you how to best do that.

Here is another example of how the small farmer is being squeezed out by making resources scarce.  If it wasn't for Terry Poole, our extension agent (ermitas) and his classes, we wouldn't be as far along as we are.  We would have never learned about Management Intensive Grazing, Integrated Pest Management Techniques, Nutrient Management, and Water and Soil Resource conservation. 

Terry is the driving force behind the Maryland Small Farm Co-op, an organization of small farmers working to help each other and sustain the small farm.  Small farms have little to no room to compete, and big Agra-business is controlling the food chain.  Our extension agents are a lifeline to university research, practical applications in the field, and neighborly help.  Support farming by keeping them available.


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