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Thread: At the MOFGA Fair

  1. #1

    At the MOFGA Fair

    MOFGA stands for Maine Organic Farmers and Garden Association, and every year they have a big fair not far from my house. We actually did all the ground work for this fair in 1997 but this was the first time I ever went. As a traditional farmer in a long standing farm family, I don't often agree with their political views on agricultural procedures, but I like how they try to think outside the box and like to experiment with stuff.

    I picked up a lot of information this year on alternative energy. They had some stuff on insulated concrete homes, strawbale houses and of course windmills and solar panels. My Uncle, who has the means to dabble with whatever is his fancy, recently bought a windmill and is now dabbling in solar power. That works great for me because he spends the money and I find out if it is profitable or not. So far his windmill hasn't panned out very well. It will be interesting to see how the solar power goes.

    I also got a chance to talk to the State Planning Office. That was funny. No matter what I said or how I said it, the man in charge claimed my compost pile heating system would never work. Yes there are plenty of people doing it, and it is working, but he would not hear any of that. As I started to walk away however, he did say "If you do get it to work though, let us know so we can tell everyone else." That kind of struct me as funny.

    About the only part of the fair that is traditional is the animals. Everything else must be made in Maine and be organic. Meaning you starve to death there. No fried dough, instead you get whole wheat dough covered with honey. Hamburgers must be certified organic and topped with homeade ketchup. I think you get the idea.

    Anyway Lie Nielsen did have a booth there and I saw Erica there, a woman that worked there when I did. She was always great so it was good to chat with her, and to look over some tools. More inetersting was the Low Impact Logging area. I talked at length with a woman who made cedar shingles. That was very informative. She started out as a hobby kind of thing and now works full time at it and can't keep up. Interesting for me as we have a cedar shingle mill. Another interesting thing was something they call the Maine Farm Link. That is where they team people who want to rent out farm land, to farm land owners to help preserve crop land and keep it from becoming forest. I might give them a call. As always the forest service had a lot there as well and had some good stuff on forest pests.

    All in all it was a great fair to go to. I did not go to any seminars they had on account of time, and while it was nothing kids could get into, it was very informative.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Johnson View Post
    My Uncle, who has the means to dabble with whatever is his fancy, recently bought a windmill and is now dabbling in solar power. That works great for me because he spends the money and I find out if it is profitable or not. So far his windmill hasn't panned out very well. It will be interesting to see how the solar power goes.
    Wind really depends on your micro-climate, though. Unless your uncle is right next door, you probably would get different results. Heck, even if you are next door... if one of you is on a hilltop with minimal trees and the other is in a valley... you'll get different wind performance.

  3. #3
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    Yeah some of the organic guys get a bit carried away sometimes. My brother can be one of them.

    There is money to be made there if you can develop a market for it.

  4. #4
    I agree. There are farms around here that claim if they did not become certified organic, they would have gone under. I truly believe them too. So that is good and good golly I buy enough organic food for Alyson as that is all she eats.

    My biggest issue is that this group dislikes any Genetically Engineered stuff. They have doomsday predictions on things and say so on page 3 of their newspaper. On page 5 they tout the virtues of gentically engineered willow saplings that are being farmed and baled and used as biomass fuel. It seemed kind of hypocritical.

    The other issue I have is their claim that the standard american farmer is failing. I really don't see that. First I do not know any standard farmer anywhere, and I don't think US farmers are failing. There is 2% of us in this country and yet we feed 98% of the nation and export even more. Yeah we import some food too, but the farmers are very productive. In the 80's, too productive. There was so much food it costs less to buy it then produce it. That is a supply and demand thing, not failure.

    Overall though, organic farming has its place. They created a niche market for themselves and are doing well at it. I applaud their hard work, outside-the-box type thinking, and creative ways of dealing with crop issues without using pesticides and fertilizers.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Art Mulder View Post
    Wind really depends on your micro-climate, though. Unless your uncle is right next door, you probably would get different results. Heck, even if you are next door... if one of you is on a hilltop with minimal trees and the other is in a valley... you'll get different wind performance.
    I'm agreeing all over the place here today, but yeah, I agree with you. My Uncle's windmill is not high enough, or in the best location. My house is a bit better suited for a mill than his, but marginally so. Even higher on the hill (3 telephone pole lengths) the wind is even better. You can see the two pictures of the two places here. (sorry about the sled in the picture, it was all I had of that hill).

    My House:


    Top Of Hill:


    I know my Uncles mill only saved him about 75 dollars a month on electricity. At that rate the cost on return for the 12,000 dollar mill would be way to long to be really viable. He also had problems at first with the electronics end of it. The mill would shut down automatically when it hit 32 degrees. Well I live in Maine. The temp is always below 32 degrees and especially in the winter when the wind blows the hardest. He has it down to 11 degrees now before shutdown, but it still never really panned out for him.

    I am not against a windmill idea at this point, but my line of thinking is to:

    A. Fabricate one myself so the construction cost is a lot lower and thus return on investment is lower
    B. Situate the thing at the top of the hill if possible to capture the best wind and run wires down to my house. I think that may be better power wise then trying to catch the wind closer to home but at a less than ideal spot.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    London, Ontario
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Johnson View Post
    B. Situate the thing at the top of the hill if possible to capture the best wind and run wires down to my house. I think that may be better power wise then trying to catch the wind closer to home but at a less than ideal spot.
    Bingo. Top of the hill for sure.

    On the plus side, the costs for these things are coming down all the time.

    I was reading how my alma mater put up a windmill as a demonstration/research project. This was a 1.8 Kilowatt unit, and the windmill + tower was about $7k, and a further $4k for the Grid connection.

    Not cheap. But getting cheaper all the time. And at least the power companies are now more open to having these connected.

    have fun
    ...art

  7. #7
    Here they don't out and out buy the power, but give you a credit and have a special meter that clocks where the power is coming from...that is, weather your mill is coming out of your house and onto the grid, or into your house from the grid.

    The credit is really a misnomer because you still have to pay the delivery fee every month no matter how many KWs you produce as we are a non-regulated power state. (It was supposed to reduce our power bill, but that is another story altogether). The thing is, IF you had a power unit that would supply 110% of your power needs, you still would not get a check from the power company. Just a statement saying you had X amount of KWS available to you for free. And you still would have to pay the delivery charge for being attached to the grid.

    Its kind of goofy, but can you imagine if the power company had to build lines, or buy power from everyone with a windmill or power generator? It would be a huge burden paperwork wise and costly in the long run. I envision a lot of other states having the same system we do in the future.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  8. #8
    As a side note, I have been doing a lot of research on VAWM (or Vertical Axis Windmills). I have always had a soft spot for those just because they are much simplier to fabricate and install. With my machining skills and fabrication skills, I am sure I could build one reasonably and make it work.

    Not that I am the poster child for being Green, but the goal would be to be able to heat my shop via compost heat, and have a windmill power the circulating pump and fan in my system. With the exception of maintenance, that would make my shop 100% free heat. A lofty, green goal perhaps, but pretty cool too.

    Just to show others what a VAWM is, I gleaned a picture off the internet...

    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

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