Artwork for podcast GREEN Organic Garden Podcast
280. The Organic No-Till Farming Revolution | Growing For Market | The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook | Andrew Mefferd | Cornville, Maine
15th July 2019 • GREEN Organic Garden Podcast • Jackie Marie Beyer
00:00:00 01:36:10

Share Episode


To win a copy of Andrew’s Book answer this poll where you can enter the raffle. And remember you can get a 20% discount by using the code: garden on a subscription to Andrew’s awesome publication  Growing for Market magazine or any of his books or the books in their online store. I know you are going to love this interview as much as I did. Remember to share this episode with a friend!

The Organic No-Till Farming Revolution: High-Production Methods for Small-Scale Farmers

Greenhouse and HoophouseGrower'sGuide

The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook: Organic Vegetable Production Using Protected Culture

Andrew Mefferd is editor of Growing for Market magazine.


He has spent 15 years working on farms in six states, including a year working on a no-till research farm, and worked for seven years in the research department at

Johnny’s Selected Seeds .

He travels around the world consulting with researchers and farmers on the best practices in greenhouse growing and sustainable agriculture. He is the author of The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook, and has a passion for promoting local farming movements. He lives and farms in Cornville, Maine.

Greenhouse and HoophouseGrower'sGuide

The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook: Organic Vegetable Production Using Protected Culture

coupon code for your listeners for either the book or a subscription!


New Society willing to give away a book its really up to you to decide how to give the book away!!

I’m so excited to hear that because I usually would give the copy you gave me away but it’s one of the ones I really want to keep in my library. Well I love my listeners that’s amazing! They are all dedicated to growing a greener future by saving the planet not just growing food but growing an organic oasis.

I’m not from Maine, and moved here and love it! So I feel I can recommend it.

Maine is going to have its bicentennial, the little town we live in was founded in the 1800s

very old

small farm state

because we don’t have the big expanses of land, like out west

the place was carved up into little farmsteads 

and it’s not flat

remains that way.

a lot like the farm I live on

  • house and a barn
  • 30-40 acres of open land
  • Another 70 or something of woods

People farm and get their firewood

it could be a good deal

sounds like a fixer upper

You would have to do things to it, I think that as long as you know that going into it, and 

Yesterday even my mom went to a CBD oil place with her buddies, we are thinking we could have a hemp field and we are thinking the building could be a school. We could have some vegetables but mostly hemp. IDK it’s the first place we’ve ever thought of moving to from our place… who knows it could be sold by now. Let’s talk about you!


Tell us a little about yourself.

Yeah sure! I would say that I grew up in the state of VA in northern up close to Washington DC

where it’s very suburban. My entry point into farming really was through gardening. We had a garden there were I grew up in VA and I had a farm one generation back in my family. My dad’s mom had a fairly large farm in PA

As I grew up I got more and more interested in the growing side of things, which started out as a garden. We had this compost pile for years at my house

sort of Mount Compostmore!

kept piling stuff up and up

huge compost pile and finally I said we should have a garden! One of myfirst gardening experiences was spreading the compost out! 

We were, we wanted to have a garden and ended up just spreading the compost pile on the garden site

We spread it out and it ended up being a really great garden! 

I love that story! You don’t ave to have a garden to save your compost maybe you will down the line!


Compost is like fine wine

the older it gets the better it is. 

We just wanted to get ready to have a garden


organic matter

filing it up

sitting there rotting and when we were ready to have a garden!

there it was

that was kind of my entry point

as I got more and more interested in growing

I thought that I wanted to have a farm

I went to school for journalism and my first few jobs as apprenticeship in journalism I was in a cubical all day long

this is not what I want to do

I want to be outside

talking to my brother about organic food. I had always 


blissfully assumed that that government was making food safe

whatever is sprayed on the food is safe

talking to my brother 

I can’t believe they let you spray that on food!

it made the most sense to work on a farm in the neck of the woods

the apprentice circuit

Did an apprenticeship on a farm in Pennsylvania

not wanting to spend all day in a cubicle

met my wife there and we did what she calls the apprentice circuit

That fall at the end of the apprenticeship in PA we took a road trip and visited farms in the country

Ended up picking a farm in California, so we went straight to the fall season on a farm in AA

started a


jan 21st one of the first jobs was 

  • bucking up the olive wood into firewood

from there we went to Washington state

research farm for VA tech

We did start a farm in PA and that’s a long story and we loss the use of that land

  • bounced around
  • more apprenticeships in upstate in NY and then up to Maine and actually out on the coast of Maine

now I do live on a farm in Cornville, Maine

this is

our farm is about 45 min from Johnny’s research farm which is longer then I wanted to commute and we live in a rural area

that’s like where we are

  • rural people can relate
  • a lot of suburban people can relate because

which is like northern VA I just couldn’t take that too much time in the car

mainly to farm

one thing a lot of growers do is to work for johns in the winter

if you called into Johnny’s and said you were a potential grower I would have potentially helped you make that order and this job in the research department became available

running trials on different and tomatoes are my spirit crop

I applied for it and I sure enough I got that

I ended up at Johnny’s for seven years in the research department running trials on tomatoes

I ended up getting into greenhouse trialling as well

as you know the national

funding a lot of high tunnels

increasing demand for recommendations

People would build one and call us up at Johnny’s and saying I got my high tunnel up now what do I plant in it and 

that led to my first book

Greenhouse and HoophouseGrower'sGuide

The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook: Organic Vegetable Production Using Protected Culture

because not only was I putting a lot of energy for Johnny’s but also putting a lot of it into our own farm when you consider that we moved from Pennsylvania to Maine.

My favorite thing is tomatoes

place where you have a nice long growing season to a place where in my mind it’s not commercially worthwhile

They take so long to ripen, our season is so short.

I think that’s a lot like us but now isn’t Jean Martin Fortier north of you or is his season different? I know he says greenhouse tomatoes are his number one crop in his book:

MarketGardenerBookThe Market Gardener: A Successful Grower’s Handbook for Small-Scale Organic Farming

His season is probably similar. That’s why he’s growing them in a hoophouse, I know he has a nice greenhouse too. I think that’s it, growers in these northern areas really need to use season extension to make those crops profitable.

Here we have all the

  • diseases
  • heat humidity
  • splits

and to make matters worse you can’t plant them in the field to June, by the time those big beefsteaks are starting to ripen the weather’s cooling back off

lots of gardeners grow large fruited tomatoes up here, but it’s the kind of thing where you are a commercial growers trying to make a profit it

If you only pick

That’s a decision we made and what I know most of the commercial growers are producing them indoors.

i have been to one of his places, he is more or less due west, we’re in central Maine and he’s just over the border from NY. I would guess that he has a similar climate

There’s a lot of demand for those local tomatoes

I think protected culture instead of trying to grow them. 

I think it’s his hoophouse tomatoes. 

I continue to be obsessed with greenhouse tomatoes but I did leave Johnny’s to take over the Magazine, Growing for Market  which is something I had written for from time to time, leading up to taking it over.

IDK how familiar your readers are

We are now in our 28th year

Lynn Byzanski, she started as a flower farmer in Kansas

She wrote the book:

Flower Farmer Book Lynn Byczynski

The Flower Farmer: An Organic Grower’s Guide to Raising and Selling Cut Flowers, 2nd Edition

I remember buying that book 15 years ago when I was at VA Tech, getting close to the part of start of our farm,

She started the magazine 28 years ago now

3 years ago she was ready to pass it on, asked me if I would be interested

When I asked her why, she said cause I was already writing for the magazine

I thought it was a great opportunity

small publication

not affiliated

kind of like a family business

she wanted someone to take it over that was writing for the magazine so they would continue to do so

editor to write for it

since I was already


Growing for Market – for direct to market farmers  

It’s something we subscribe to for over a decade and really the only publication specifically for direct-to-market farmers.

  • farmers market
  • farm stand
  • CSA
  • those kind of...