MGA has been working with the Old Canada Road Scenic Highway Association on developing some Demonstration Plots at their Robbins Hill site on the Madison-Solon town line on Rt 201. If you have never been there, calling it a roadside rest is an understatement. It is an amazing section of trails through fields and woods with an unbelievable view of Maine’s western mountains. Last fall we plowed two ¼ acre plots, applied lime, and planted winter rye as a cover crop. This spring we tilled in the rye, applied rock phosphate, and planted oats and field peas. The oats and peas were planted as a cover crop to tilling them into the soil later this summer to build better soil health. The last time this soil was disturbed was over 50 years ago. It had been hayed in the past but mostly had just been brush-hogged to keep the field from getting overgrown. We intend to have some varieties of grains growing there for demonstration purposes. Even as we were working early in the year, we were amazed by the number of visitors to the site, so we think it will be a great spot to educate the public on the types of grains growing here in Maine.
MGA contacted our friends at Ocean Organics, a company on the coast that makes fertilizer from seaweed, about using these plots to trial their product. They loved the idea, so they came up at the end of May and applied the seaweed as a foliar spray. They plan to come back at intervals to reapply and then collect data on the results. It’s been great working with both these organizations to help show off the beauty of Maine, educate the public on the varieties of grain grown in the state, and showcase a local business’s work in the organic fertilizer field. We’ll keep you posted on the results. If you are ever in the area, do stop by Robbins Hill, enjoy the facilities, and see our demonstration plots.
We have also been busy with our Seed Restoration Project. At our site in Solon, we have over two acres growing with 40 varieties of grain. We have everything from 15 small 4 ft by 6 ft test plots of seed that we were given by Sylvia Davatz, a seed saver in Vermont, to ½ acre blocks of other varieties. Sylvia gave us some varieties of European wheat and spelt to grow out that she thinks have the potential to be successful here in the Northeast. We also have grown outs of the grain we got from Denmark last year and several varieties of einkorn and emmer. Our winter grains did very well and are already heading up and flowering. It seems early but it has been a warm April and May. We have a large area growing in Parkman and Freeport and smaller plots here in Central Maine. We also have areas to cover crops as part of a rotation. In addition, a farmer in Starks, Maine has plowed and tillered a ¾ acre plot for us and we are working with them to plant there this fall or next spring. We traveled up to the County to visit with grain farmers there to look at some sites for planting this fall and next spring. We have a few varieties that could potentially need large 2 or 3-acre sites for this fall and next spring, so if you know of any cultivated land that could be available let us know. We’ll post some photos or a video soon to give you an idea of all we have growing.
– Richard Roberts