From Heather Retberg, on the Complete Patient blog:
Heather Retberg with her daughter, Carolyn. Photo via The Complete Patient blog.
“….For the last three years, I’ve been engaged in the urgent and pressing work of understanding who else is defining me, other farmers, and our community, and what impact those definitions bear on my life at Quill’s End Farm with my family. These definitions also impact the whole renewed system of feeding each other, and the impact on the many farmers and their patrons across our land.
I’ve heard with increasing frequency farmers talking about “staying quiet”, or “just staying under the radar”, or “I’ll do it this way until I get caught”. I used to smile at this, even laugh. I don’t any more. Now it makes me very sad. Because, of course, these ways of speaking about our work do make it sound like drug dealing. Know any other honest profession that is just trying to “keep quiet” and “stay invisible”? Continue reading
An excerpt from the latest Complete Patient post by David E. Gumpert:
“There’s an uprising brewing in Maine over food rights. Like in other parts of the country, it started with regulator interference in a traditional part of small-farm life.
Heather Retberg, who with her husband runs a small farm in the coastal communmity of Penobscott, had built up a nice little business selling chickens to neighbors. She slaughtered the chickens at a neighbor’s regulator-approved facility for producers of less than 1,000 chickens annually.
But then last year, the Maine Department of Agriculture suddenly changed the rules covering farmers with less than 1,000 chickens, requiring that each farm have its own facility. There was an outcry around the state, and eventually the legislature reinstated the 1,000-chicken exemption…but in implementing the exemption, the MDA kept key obstacles in effect. Bottom line, Retberg was still prohibited from slaughtering the chickens at her neighbor’s and told she needed to construct her own $30,000 facility, or else have the chickens slaughtered at an approved facility many miles from her farm–all prohibitively expensive. Continue reading