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  • Published
    December 22, 2015

    Different but similar

    The day that this column is published both our children, Anna and John, will be arriving home from college for Christmas break. Anna will be arriving with a German friend, Mona, who Anna sees about once a year, either here or in Europe, and has ever since Mona stayed with us as an exchange student five years ago. Mona will have flown into Boston a few days earlier, taken the bus to Brunswick, and spent the last …

  • Published
    December 8, 2015

    Reflections on Paris

    The recent terrorist attacks in Paris occurred a few hours before Maine Farmland Trust held its annual meeting; but none of us knew that until after our party had ended. Susan and I found out from our daughter, Anna, who phoned us soon after we got home that evening. Clearly, what had happened in Paris bothered Anna deeply, perhaps more so because she has thinking about friends in Europe and a trip to Germany she …

  • Published
    November 23, 2015

    An afternoon with Angus

    My first encounter with Angus King was maybe 18 years ago, when he was governor and I was running the farms programs at CEI, a statewide community development organization. I think the event was a press conference at the Hall of Flags in the Statehouse. I remember running after Gov. King with a handout that captured my optimism about the future of farming. After I caught up with him, he cordially shook my hand, …

  • Published
    November 17, 2015

    Reclaiming Maine’s lost farmland

    In my last column, I wrote about how the revitalization of farming in Maine is leading some farmers to reclaim once-open fields that long ago returned to woodland. Such reclamation efforts could prove good for both farming and our environment, provided that they are done correctly. I ended my column by pointing out that returning woods to completely open fields is not the only way to grow food; that partially …

  • Published
    November 10, 2015

    Reclaiming Maine’s lost farmland, part 1

    Philip and Heather Retberg of Quills End Farm in Penobscot have a lot in common with other young couples I’ve seen repopulate old farms: a clear commitment to good farming practices and good food, to improving their community and, through it, our planet. Yet different farmers take different paths. A decade ago, when I first met the Retbergs, they were doing something that was rare in those days: reclaiming former …

  • Published
    October 27, 2015


    Susan and I keep being asked what it’s like, now that we are empty-nesters. Perhaps we ourselves created this interest, as we each wrote a column about the impending change in advance of our kids leaving for college this fall. But still, it’s a bit surprising to be repeatedly asked. One answer is that the house is a lot cleaner, and that we buy a lot less food and we drink a bit more wine. That answer is flippant,…

  • Published
    October 13, 2015

    A bold experiment in Unity

    Last Thursday I attended an event that was a long time coming: the official opening of Unity Food Hub. It was a great celebration. The food hub is located in a newly renovated 1898 school building situated in the heart of Unity Village. The old school had been vacant since 1965 — a full 50 years. Maine Farmland Trust bought it in 2013, with the goal of converting it into a new use that would serve both farmers …

  • Published
    September 15, 2015

    Empty nesters

    Editor’s note: This week’s column is by Susan Piotti, wife of regular columnist John Piotti. Lucy, the white hen, came home. We had feared she was gone forever. Our daughter Anna had been caring for our small brood of free range chickens while we were at camp. When I got home, I asked her where Lucy had gone. Anna, confused about exactly how many white chickens we had, didn’t realize we had one fewer. Oh well, …

  • Published
    August 31, 2015

    A fast life

    The day this column will be published is my daughter’s 21st birthday, and her last full day at home before she begins her senior year at Bowdoin. The next day, Susan and I drive my son John to Boston where he will begin his freshman year at MIT. Where did the summer go? More to the point, where did the years go?” It sounds so cliché to ask this question. Yet it is a valid question. I assume I don’t feel too …

  • Published
    August 18, 2015

    Struggles, smiles at Misty Brook Farm

    The storm hit at 6 p.m. July 28. Torrential rain. Plum-sized hail. Wind gusts of 70 mph pummeling everything from all directions. “It looked like a thunderstorm, but arrived like a hurricane.” That’s how Katia Holmes described it on her farm’s website. Katia and her husband Brendan own and operate Misty Brook Farm. This 412-acre “full diet” farm offers a diverse array of organic products, including milk, beef, …

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