Organic Farmers Know That Consumers Don’t Mind a Little Listeria as Long as They Get it From Farmers Who Care


one-maineELLSWORTH — Organic farmer Bill Thayer remembers the basil incident well. Thayer, who with his wife, Cynthia, runs Darthia Farm in Gouldsboro, said federal inspectors were at the farm for two days while a batch of basil jam was being produced. They were there, he said, because some of the jam would be shipped out of Maine. When the basil supply ran low, one worker walked 50 feet to a nearby hoop house, picked some more and brought it back to the building where the jam was being made. The feds offered a critique, Thayer said, because the worker went and came back wearing the same clothes. Thayer’s story played well to a sympathetic audience at Ellsworth City Hall on April 23, where he was one of six panelists at a forum titled “Maine Agriculture: Our Food, Our Farms, Our Future.” The event was organized by OneMaine, which bills itself as a nonprofit bipartisan organization “whose only special interest is Maine people.”Thayer said small farms such as his are not the problem when it comes to food safety. His comment echoed that of fellow panelist and organic farmer Paul Volckhausen, who with his wife, Karen, runs Happy Town Farm in Orland. “If you look at the problems in our agricultural system,” said Volckhausen, “they come from our large, industrial farms and not from small-scale local farmers who care.” (read more at the Fenceviewer)