Friday, January 6, 2012

Organic Farming: Maine Island Style

“It has been between 70 and 90 years since this land was last farmed,” said Dean Stockman, the organic farmer of Vinalhaven Island Organic Farm. A 25-acre property, on Vinalhaven Island in Penobscot Bay, approximately 12 miles off the coast of Rockland, Maine.

Vinalhaven Island Organic Farm, Maine

I got to tour the farm last July with 20 or so members of the Vinalhaven Heritage Group. Dean and his wife Kate greeted us in the parking lot outside their barn. They were standing in a field with three tractors. Dean grabbed a handful of dirt and continued to talk about the land and how the soil was actually made of sod.

Dean Stockman, farmer handling sod soil of
Vinalhaven Island Organic Farm, Maine

He said it was so dense when they arrived last November, they could have made a house out of it. It took twenty-passes with their tractor to loosen up the soil enough to even think of planting in it.

But the sod helped them with the no-watering farming style that they brought with them from Vermont. There they owned and operated a commercial wholesale 100-acre certified organic farm for 16 years before the Land Trust bought it. 

November 2010, they finalizing a lease with landowners Carey Cameron and Giovanna Ferrero, and started working the land on Vinalhaven Island.

The no-watering style of farming means exactly what it says: no watering from outside sources other than rainwater. The sod's dense structure held onto rains from April and it was moist in July to grow a full crop of vegetables and grains.

Dean Stockman, farmer showing crop of Vinalhaven Island
Organic Farm, Maine

When we were there, the farm was growing rye, wheat, and barley, along with an extensive list of vegetables including some heirloom varieties.

They sold their crop to Crown of Maine distribution company on the mainland, and were hoping of establish a market locally on Vinalhaven Island. 

Being a small operation, they have no website, so the only way you can learn more about them is to go visit Vinalhaven Island, Maine.

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