Nancy Oden
on North Coast of Maine

Nancy Oden

PO Box 1
Jonesboro, Maine 04648


"Only when the last tree has died,
the last river been poisoned
and the last fish been caught
will we realize that we cannot eat money."

— Cree Proverb


Grow your own, for security and fun

By Nancy Oden, Special to the BDN, Published in Bangor Daily News, April 3, 2012

Since most of us don’t visit food banks and the poor are not very visible, it’s pretty easy to ignore their lack of necessary food. We’re all busy, after all.

As the number of people who don’t have enough food for their families grows, some food banks have cut their hours because of high demand. They’re simply running out of food. Generous donations of food and money are not enough.

So what can we do?

One solution: build raised-bed gardens in people’s own yards and get them started growing at least some of their own food. If the raised beds are about 2-feet high, there’s no stoop labor, no machines ever needed and the experience is productive, satisfying and even enjoyable.

Another solution: encourage our young people to become small farmers growing diverse foods local people enjoy such as potatoes, beet greens, carrots, onions, lettuces, tomatoes, chickens for eggs and meat and more.

Raising food for local consumption differs greatly from the massive acreage now used up to grow monocultures, or just one crop: “wild” blueberries, potatoes, apples and strawberries, among others.

Those monocultures are mostly raised for export out of state and even out of country, often to Asia. They are also, excepting no-spray (organic) farms, heavily sprayed with poisonous pesticides, which means you and I may be drinking pesticide-contaminated water; many of us are.

Where will the money and labor come from to build these home gardens, which are our first line of defense against hunger? I suggest you propose your town and county officials to use some of their TIF money to build a goodly number of home-based, raised-bed gardens each year.

Staff and-or volunteers build the raised-bed gardens, then check up on the gardens during the season to ensure they’re being kept up and producing food. The best gardeners can be encouraged to get into small farming.

There are thousands of fallow farms in Maine just waiting for people, young and not-so-young, to enjoy a certain and satisfying livelihood growing food for themselves and for their neighbors as they create small farm businesses.

Someday there will be a serious emergency, such that trucks cannot get in to deliver food. If roads remain impassable for days, how will people get their food? Supermarkets have only 1–2 days’ supply; in panic situations, it disappears within hours.

Of course people should keep food in the house for emergencies, but not everyone does these days. In remote villages around the world, villagers not only put food by for the village as a whole, but they also save seeds for next year’s gardens and harvest. We, too, can do this.

I propose food storage buildings scattered around the countryside, which should be overseen by those whom others trust to be honest. There, emergency food supplies can be kept and not touched except to be rotated for freshness; then, when emergencies strike, there will be food.

A seed bank can also be kept there. In case of multiple crop failures or serious contamination of the crops (e.g., nuclear fallout, overspray from nearby monoculture’s pesticides, deadly heat wave) one year, there would still be good, viable, uncontaminated seeds to plant for next season.

There’s still plenty of time to get your garden going this year. Find some old (untreated wood) wooden boxes, make sure they’ll drain excess water, dig up some soil from your yard, fill box, plant seeds, weed as needed (eat the dandelions, too; they’re very healthful), harvest and eat.

If you want to buy soil or “compost,” don’t buy any that says “biosolids” on the label. That’s sewer sludge from near and far. Always ask what’s in “compost” or “soil” when buying. You do not want sewer sludge in your food garden or anywhere on your property. It makes plants grow fast because it has lots of human poop in it, but also industrial residues and chemicals and pharmaceuticals people dump down the drain, or excrete.

As an old Girl Scout and the oldest of nine children raised in a food-secure but money-poor family, I know the value of being prepared. We need to do these things now, while we can, while most of us are still relatively untouched by food insecurity that affects millions around the world.

Growing our own food and being prepared for emergencies makes good sense at all times.

Your ideas welcomed at . Happy growing.

Nancy Oden lives in Jonesboro.


New Concept Proposal from Clean Earth Farms – April 2010

Most families in Washington County used to grow food gardens, but as grocery store food became less expensive, people stopped growing their own food. Now people are dependent on food from far away, requiring long transport to our region. Grocery stores have only 1-2 days worth of food, at most, and in an emergency, shelves empty within hours.

Long-term drought in California’s prime growing region, as well as in China, India, Saudi Arabia, et al, which, combined, have billions of people, means less grain to feed the world’s people. Wheat, corn, and rice are in demand world-wide. The above-named countries, and others, are buying up American grains.

Americans are literally competing with these huge populations for our daily bread. Therefore, our food supply is not stable; prices have gone up and are expected to continue to rise. Also, people no longer put much food by for winter or emergencies. We are not food secure. But we can fix this.

Several extant programs tell people how to garden, but none we know of actually helps people build a garden in their own yards. This program allows people to simply step out their door into their garden, making it easy and enjoyable for them to grow their own food. This way they don’t have to travel to garden, and they can grow foods their families like.

Growing one’s own food enables people to lower their food bills, eat healthier out of their own gardens, acquire the critical survival skill of providing for themselves, thereby becoming more self-sufficient.

The hope is that once people find out how much good food can be grown in a raised garden, they will expand to become local farmers who can sell/donate food to others. Few Washington County farms currently grow food for local consumption, e.g., most blueberries are shipped away, including all the way to Asia. These crops are not for us. But we believe we can supply most of our year-round food needs right here within Washington County.

Because the TIF funds are to be used exclusively for the benefit of Washington County’s Unorganized Territories (U.T.) residents, we’re proposing to send out a mailing to county U.T. households to discern their interest in acquiring a high, raised-bed garden. Each garden bed would be 20 feet long, 4 feet wide and 2 feet high.

We would ask the property owners to contribute what they can to the project, since the materials are not free. Perhaps they have some old lumber or can handle the carpentry skills themselves, or perhaps they have loam they can put into the raised-bed garden, or they may be able to contribute cash.

High raised beds are our focus because anyone who isn’t bed-ridden can garden in them by simply walking along the bed, or riding along in a wheelchair, if necessary. Children, elders, mentally and physically disabled people, and those of us who prefer not to crawl along the wet, cold ground will benefit from these high, raised garden beds.

Raised beds warm up sooner in spring, water doesn’t sit in them, they’re very efficient and convenient, and lend themselves well to interplanting, crop rotation, and food diversity.

Also, no machines are ever needed, which keeps gardening costs, once set up, to a minimum from year to year. All they will need are seeds and a small hand fork to ruffle up the soil so they can pull up weeds and plant the garden. Plus some non-stressful, healthy exercise and time outdoors.

Once there are numerous home gardens, there will be a need for small businesses to supply seeds, soil amendments, lumber for more raised garden beds, gloves, blackfly nets, books and magazines on gardening, greenhouses and their accoutrements (because gardeners always want a greenhouse), and more.

Some gardeners will choose to sell their excess food and flowers at new farmers’ markets to be established within the Unorganized Territories. We will help them get connected with Washington County’s existing network of farmers’ markets.

Gardeners can create value-added products such as jellies and jams, relishes, soup mixes, dried foods for campers, glass-jar canned goods, herbs (fresh and dried), sauerkraut, home-made breads and cookies, candies, eggs, plus many other food products, which can then be sold at their door or in local stores or farmers’ markets.

Fledgling small businesses could work with WHCA’s incubator without walls to help bring their products to market.

After their gardens are established, CEF will help people who want to raise small livestock such as chickens, rabbits, turkeys, and ducks, and teach them humane animal husbandry and butchering. This creates the need for out-buildings (work for carpenters), and skilled butchers are always in demand to help put meat in the freezer for winter.

These U.T. gardeners will also be encouraged to plant trees—fruits, nuts, sugar maples--for permanent food supplies, to stop erosion or flooding on their properties, for wildlife habitat, and to provide windbreaks and shade for their houses.

Greenhouse seedling/plant/tree suppliers can be asked if they will donate trees and perennials that did not sell each year, and neighbors will likely be happy to donate excess seedlings that grow on their property.

The idea is to help U.T. residents have more and better food grown naturally in their home gardens, and to help them create permanent food supplies in their yards and fields.

In gardens which are miles away from commercial, poison-sprayed fields, people will be encouraged to keep honeybees. Honeybee populations have been decimated by pesticides and we need bees for good pollination of many food plants.

Beekeeping can lead to more small business opportunities. Some products include honey, beeswax candles and hand creams, propolis and pollen for health food store sales, sales of beekeeping equipment, queen bees, and new colonies. Bee colonies could also be rented out to (organic only) blueberry and other growers wanting good pollination. This would save large growers from using the sickly, mite-infested, migrant bees which carry diseases affecting our native bees.

One more item goes along with the raised bed gardens: composting household food waste with grass clippings, chipped dead branches, garden spoilage, and so on. Rotted compost is the best medium for growing food plants.

CEF proposes we also supply enough chicken wire and stakes to make a 4’x4’x4’ compost enclosure, divided in half with another piece of chicken wire. One half would be filled up, then left to rot while the other side is filled up. The finished compost will then go on top of the raised garden bed(s) as the best soil amendment possible.

Composting food and yard waste reduces the garbage waste stream by around 30-50 percent.

Raised garden beds are permanent, never needing replacement until the boards rot, which will take years, or even decades. “Treated” lumber cannot be used for food gardens since it leaches toxins into surrounding soil. Number 4 lumber does the job well at only $1.00 per linear foot, and we may be able to get some scrounged/donated lumber to help with costs as the project grows.

Project Director, a full-time, year-round job, will enlist some volunteer help sending out mailings to all U.T. residents, and will complete the following tasks: keep track of who wants a garden, hire contract workers to construct the beds, visit each site to ensure quality work and help recipients plant their seeds, order all garden and related supplies, do contract worker payroll, hold classes/meetings for recipients, write news stories on project for Washington County media, respond to questions or discussion year around via email or telephone, as well as do fund-raising for this and future years’ gardens to make U.T. residents more self-sufficient and food secure.

In-kind contributions include telephone, computer equipment and software, office space, printing instructional materials, and an extensive garden library from which recipients may borrow books or periodicals. We also expect to get at least 200 hours of volunteer labor, which we estimate at $10 per hour.

Further in-kind contributions include: charging the Project a lesser gas mileage rate than either state or federal standards (believed to be about 52 cents per mile), lowering the normal salary for the Project Director from $37,500 to $27,500 leaving $10,000 cash contribution for the project. We will also continue fund-raising to get more in-kind or cash donations to help meet the 50 percent contribution for this project.


Proposal to WCDA could add to cash contributions. Looking elsewhere, as well.

Costs to Build Raised Garden Beds and Compost Bins in U.T.

Letter to U.T. households (1,500 households±) asking if they’re interested in acquiring a high, raised garden bed and simple compost bin: $1,125
Cost of labor for each bed, est. at $35 per bed, for 100 beds
Cost of lumber for each raised garden bed 20' long per side by 4 feet wide at each end, by 2 feet high, equaling 96 linear feet at $1.00 per linear foot, est. at $96 per bed, total for 100 beds , (this might be lowered if we can acquire used lumber)
Cost of simple chicken wire compost bin est. $18, for 100
Labor for chicken wire compost bin staked into ground, est. $10 for 100
One-time only cost (beds are permanent), for good loam to fill raised beds at approximately six yards per bed at around $23 per yard, delivery included (estimate from Ivan Hanscom), would be about be $138 per garden bed, cost for 100 beds would be approximately

(Because the above is an expensive item, we would ask each recipient to dig some good soil from their property, if they’re able, to help fill the bed, and to line the bottom of raised bed with clean yard wastes. This should help cut amount of loam needed.)

Cost of seeds at about $20 per recipient for 100 beds
We hope to acquire free seed catalogs to hand out, for example, the Fedco Seeds catalog is very detailed in its descriptions and instructions, or Johnny’s Selected Seeds or Pine Tree Seeds, all Maine based.
Salary of Project Director: year-round planning, hiring, supervision, instruction, holding meetings, see above description
Mileage for contract workers with trucks for hauling lumber to project and constructing beds and compost bins, 50 cents per mile at an estimated average of 75 miles round-trip per recipient equals $37.50 per recipient, for 100 beds
Mileage for project director at 33 cents per mile (fuel-efficient vehicle) for the same mileage as contract workers – project director will visit each site at least once—equals $33 for each site, total for 100 sites equals

This project will create ONE full-time job (director) and 1-2 part-time jobs building the raised-bed gardens and compost bins, as well as workers bringing in loam from supplier.

Eventually, having many gardens will create several small businesses to supply them and sell their products. Then, too. those who choose to expand once they’ve experienced the joys of gardening, will need helpers part of the year, which will create part-time job opportunities. Gardening/farming is addictive, always leading to more plants and/or animals one can try one’s hand at growing.

Given that we get a lot of rain which makes working outdoors impractical a good deal of the time, we estimate the season for building these beds and compost bins to be from mid-March through mid-November, an eight-month season. If about three gardens with compost bins are built per week, it will take about eight months to build 100 of them, get them filled with loam, and get them ready for next spring’s growing season.

If there are more than 100 respondents, we will interview them via telephone to gauge which are most likely to actually work in the gardens and which are most needy.

Respectfully Submitted,
Nancy Oden, Director, Clean Earth Farms, P.O. Box 1, Jonesboro, Maine

Project Cost / Benefits:

The summary below tabulates the one year cost for a project to install one hundred (100) raised beds for the Unorganized Territories (U.T.s) of Washington County. The concept is to provide raised beds at 100 residences for the production of garden products while providing employment opportunities and establishing food security. Estimates have been provided for the purchase and placement of loam including the cost of fabricating the raised beds throughout the UT. An estimate of $1,125.00 has been used for printing and postage for a mailing to approximately 1,500 households in the U.T.

PROJECT COST            
$    1,125.00
2X12 / 96 LF

The total cost of the twelve month project is $67,375.00 which represents a per unit cost of $673.75 for raised beds which will exist for a minimum of ten (10) years.

The value of the anticipated crop is estimated below based on typical growth rates in Washington County. Project benefits are listed for 100 homesteads for ten typical garden products. By applying a per product value for the garden mix, an estimated benefit of $101,150.00 is calculated based on a total growth of 220 pounds of garden products at each raised bed. This translates in a per unit value of approximately $1011.50 or a net gain of $348.00 for an investment of $665.50 for each raised bed for the first year, and net gain of full value, excepting cost of seeds, for succeeding years.

[LB / BED]
$    3,000.00

The raised beds are expected to remain intact for at least ten (10) years. After the first year, an investment of approximately $20.00 in seeds and effort will result in the production of approximately $1,000.00 in fresh garden products. In addition, to this obvious return in investment, the project will also create the following benefits:

  • One full time position as executive director
  • $4,500.00 allocated for construction work
  • Payment of nearly $14,000 worth of delivered loam to a local contractor
  • Purchase of approximately $12,000 of materials and products from local vendors

Clean Earth Farm is committed to the use of Washington County labor and products. The project also will teach people how to grow food without unnecessary inputs, and how to store food for winter.


             — sign on old Grange Hall

Washington County, Maine is a great place to live, but many of our people have recently lost their jobs. The County's largest employer, a Canadian-owned paper mill, has shut down, and their pulp mill will likely shut down soon, too. This will also affect jobs at the Port of Eastport, since the Port depends on the pulp mill for steady business. Then affected businesses will shut down, and so on.

Therefore, we've drawn up this Concept Plan as a way to get people back on their feet. Our proposed Farm School, for which we are seeking funding, will help local out-of-work workers, especially those who may have lost their homes to foreclosure after having lost their jobs.

The School will have some housing for students' families who are homeless, as well as students who come in just for classes. It's important people learn these new skills with their families intact, instead of some being forced to live in their vehicles through the cold winter (we do have this).

CONCEPT: To furnish out-of-work workers, and others who wish to learn self-sufficiency skills, with in-demand, practical skills. Most of the curriculum is agriculture-related. Mastering these skills will give students the ability to create their own livelihoods, such as a farmer or seamstress/tailor or food processor or carpenter, and so on, as well as the ability to work for others who need these skills.

In-demand, practical skills taught at CEF will include growing food organically for selves and others in raised beds (so that anyone can work in the garden including elderly, disabled, children), humane animal husbandry, composting food and yard wastes, making new from old, re-using, re-cycling all possible materials, taking unwanted buildings apart for re-use and helping repair local homes and municipal buildings thereby learning carpentry, culinary arts (community kitchen), working with fibers and textiles, basics of alternative energy systems (building and installing), energy efficient construction, preventive health care and first aid, working with wood, literacy, personal safety, and beekeeping.

Having these skills will provide needed goods and services for the entire region and beyond. Maine needs thousands more farmers to feed ourselves, and Clean Earth Farms can help provide them. The Farm School will create many good, long-term jobs in Washington County (see below).

This project, once up and running, can be replicated in other regions. Clean Earth Farms will help others get started, since more widespread job losses and food shortages loom in the future.

Please send us ideas you may have for the Farm School. Thanks for your good thoughts. We are determined to get this done.



  1. Growing in Greenhouses
    • basics of greenhouse plant management
    • starting seedlings for outdoor planting
    • growing warm climate food plants to maturity
  2. Growing in Raised Beds
    • composting food, animal, yard, and spoiled hay wastes to create excellent and inexpensive growing medium for the raised beds. Perhaps collect these materials from surrounding towns, greatly lessening waste stream. (potential new small business).
    • companion plants in raised beds, vegetables, herbs, edible flowers
    • optimum conditions for growing each species
  3. Growing in Open Fields
    • suitable crops such as grains, sunflowers, tall herbs
    • field preparation
    • rotating and diversifying crops
  4. Growing Food- and Fuel-Producing Trees & Bushes
    • cultivars suitable for this climate
    • what they need to grow well
    • harvesting and processing fruits, nuts, berries, maple sap
  5. Growing Culinary & Medicinal Herbs
    • what they need to grow well
  6. Growing Fiber Plants
    • flax for linen
  7. Processing Food for Long- & Short-Term Storage
    • drying, freezing, canning, fermenting
    • safe handling for all preserved foods, especially dairy & meat
    • security of food stores, protection from rodents and other predators


  1. Advantages & Disadvantages of Common Livestock for Farms
    • discussions on chickens, geese, ducks, sheep, goats, llamas, donkeys, horses, pigs, rabbits, et al
    • what they need to stay healthy, housing, feed, pace to roam
    • humane and proper butchering of meat animals


  1. Cooking & Kitchen Basics
    • proper tools
    • foods which can be eaten raw & recipes
    • basic cooking with & without recipes
    • preserving nutrients
    • preventing food poisoning
    • using herbs and spices
    • what goes with what
    • cooking for one or a crowd
    • guest chefs from renowned restaurants


  1. Collecting used clothing and other textiles for re-making into useful items, creating new from old
  2. Basics of Sewing & Tailoring
  3. Basics of Knitting, Knotting, & Crocheting
  4. Spinning & Weaving with Natural Fibers
    • handling wool, flax, other
  5. Re-upholstering Furniture
    • taking work in from the public
  6. Quilting


  1. Building & Installing Solar Panels
  2. Putting Up Windmills, Possible Tidal Projects
  3. Principles of Passive Solar Energy
    • windows on South sides of buildings
    • closing off and insulating North sides
    • using air ducts to heat/cool buildings
  4. Building Low-Tech Solar Heaters, Cookers, & Desalinizers


  1. Small & Large Appliance Repair & Auto Mechanics
  2. Rescuing Recyclable Materials from Transfer Stations
  3. Setting Up Collection Stations Around Region
  4. Taking Unwanted Buildings Apart to Learn Construction & Re-use of Still-Good Materials
  5. Collect Compostable Materials and Recyclables from Surrounding Towns


  1. Carpentry & Building Basics
    • plumbing for greywater systems
    • using different building materials, e.g., concrete, straw bales
  2. Incorporating Alternative Energy Systems into New & Old Buildings, Aiming for Off-Grid
  3. How to Be a Handy Person, Fixing Whatever Goes Wrong
  4. Studying the CEF School Construction: Extremely Energy-Efficient Systems


  1. Principles of Staying Healthy
    • proper food, exercise, vitamins
    • overview of natural healing methods
  2. Principles of First Aid
    • supplies to keep on hand
    • when to call 911
  3. Expanded Course: First Responder Training


  1. Protecting Yourself & Others from Intruders
  2. De-Fusing Potentially Violent Situations
  3. Gun Safety Rules & Good Sense (occasional class taught by professionals)
  4. Differences Between Town and Rural Safety/Protection Issues


  1. A. Safe tree cutting
    • cutting for firewood
    • using portable sawmill for lumber
    • making furniture
    • carving bowls and other household items


  1. Necessity of Clean, Pesticide-Free Environment
  2. Keeping Bees Alive & Healthy Through Winter
  3. Renting Out Hives for Pollination Services
  4. Raising Nucs & Queens
  5. Harvesting Bees' Winter Stores, also called Honey, & Uses
  6. Making Candles & Other Items from Bees Wax
  7. Harvesting Propolis & Pollen & Uses


  1. Getting Your G.E.D.
  2. Reading on Above and Other Agricultural/Real Life Topics (library on campus)
  3. Computer Literacy
    • looking up anything you need to know


Buildings will be state-of-the-art energy efficient, made of concrete for ease of maintenance and imperviousness to most building ills.

There will be rooms for 1-2 people, as well as suites for small families, since CEF welcomes out-of-work workers who may have lost their homes and who have dependent children.

Greenhouses will be attached to the front of buildings, helping heat them in winter and being used to grow plants all year. There will be Trombe walls ( ), ducts to carry heat produced by wood boilers in the basement, central common rooms for laundry, teaching and community kitchens, classes, meetings, and so on.

Students will be expected to work in gardens, greenhouses, kitchens, animal care, food processing, etc., a certain number of hours each week as part of both the Curriculum and as payment for their room and board. Other fees have not yet been decided.


Buildings, including land, site preparation, housing for students, skilled trades and food processing buildings, animal barns, plantings, etc. will cost in the neighborhood of $5 million.

Living space should accommodate approximately (depending on size of groups that get accepted into the School) 50-100 people, including children.

Teachers' salaries if there are 5 permanent teachers and a few temporary teachers at $35,000. each (for example) would be in the neighborhood of $200,000 per year.

Trucks to pick up food and yard wastes from surrounding towns would cost around $50,000, perhaps a bit more.

Animals' initial costs (they can be propagated on the Farm) would be around $10,000 for good, healthy animals.

Transport vans so people don't need personal cars - two of them at about $25,000 each would be $50,000.

These estimates are not absolute, but are close guesses so far. More work on costs needs to be done with more detail.


Initially, CEF will need substantial grants to build the school and its outbuildings. But CEF will begin soon after its first season of operation to build an endowment fund, as well as raise day-to-day expenses by selling some products made at the School.

These products would include items made by the Textile classes, as well as taking in furniture re-upholstery projects from the public, appliance and other repair projects from the public, building raised bed gardens for others (doing this gratis for elderly and others who cannot afford to pay CEF).

CEF will also contact those who can afford to help and ask them for donations to keep the School running.

CEF will donate excess food grown in our gardens, once enough is stored for winter needs for the School, to local food banks, and to other individuals and groups in need.

We also see CEF as a community hub where people can come in and use the Community Kitchen, attend all the classes and hence learn new skills to help them attain greater self-sufficiency. Day students can also earn credits this way, and be part of CEF's student population.

On the question of whether there is to be a Degree awarded, we have not yet discussed this. Our primary object is to provide new livelihoods for those who have been displaced from their former jobs, and to create many new farmers, skilled workers, and people who know how to fix things.

Nancy Oden, Clean Earth Farms
PO Box 1, Jonesboro, Maine 04648


Published by the Bangor Daily News, Bangor, Maine — July 28, 2009

Problem-Solving: Our New Necessity

by Nancy Oden

Two seemingly unrelated problems — job losses with all that entails, and dead zones in large tracts of agricultural land from monoculture and over-use of chemicals — can be solved together.

The chief ingredients to healthy, sustainable agriculture are: (1) diversity of crops so that if one crop fails the farmer still has others, and (2) rotating crops each year so that the same crop isn't grown on the same land two years in a row.

Owners of worn-out agricultural land, e.g., blueberry barrens, large potato farms, could divide their land into blocks of perhaps 20-40 acres each and assign a worker to each block. The worker(s) would get a percentage of the crops as incentive to do a good job.

Extremely energy-efficient, multiple-unit housing could be built where the blocks join so the workers live right in the middle of the crops. Landowners can get grants and/or large tax breaks for supplying farmworker housing.

Each worker could use perhaps ½ acre on which to grow their own food. Rent and use of garden land would be considered part of their pay, as would the percentage of the crop.

This housing would have greenhouses all along the South side in which workers could grow seedlings for the cash crops and for their own gardens. Because the land is so worn out from monoculture, diverse crops will be needed to re-create healthy land.

Raised beds are an excellent way to grow many small crops. A good size is 2 feet high by 4-5 feet wide, built from scrap lumber (no pressure-treated) and filled with composted food and yard wastes. Food/yard waste compost is the best medium in which to grow food crops.

Raised beds are especially important because people can work standing up (stoop labor is not fun) with hand tools only, give crops some protection from high winds, drain quickly so that our frequent rains do not drown crops, and several crops can be planted together depending on their needs, for example, salad greens which need shade can be planted behind tomatoes, and beans will supply nitrogen to other crops nearby.

Raised beds are perfect for growing crops organically, since everything can be done easily by hand. Because workers and their families would be living right next to the crops, poison chemicals could not/should not be used. No pesticides means large cash savings.

Also, with people living on the land year around, crop thieves would be less attracted to the area, saving money on security.

These blocks of land could be further divided so that livestock can be rotated in and out of different fields. Chickens will eat garden/crop scraps and turn them into eggs, meat, and rich manure, and they will dig up land getting it ready for ground crops, grains, for example.

Sheep will eat grasses before anything else. Moving them around from day to day can keep the land free of unwanted grasses, as well as fertilizing the land for future crops. Sheep will also eat, if left on the land after the grass is gone, alder sprouts, hardhack, hardwood shoots, fallen apples, etc. My experience is that they don't really like blueberry plants.

Apiaries can be set up throughout the blocks. Keeping honeybees on the land year round would save growers a huge expense, and also would mean no pesticides could be used as bees are very sensitive. Large organic farms have not lost their honeybees.

Bringing honeybees and wild bees back in large numbers assures solid pollination and larger crops. Then there's the sweet reward of warm honey right out of the hive; makes you glad to be alive.

Each block of blocks could use solar and wind for energy, and be surrounded with trees for wind-breaks, food (fruits, nuts, seeds), wildlife habitat, lumber, beauty, cooling shade, sequestering carbon, and to provide a continuous wildlife corridor which could contain ponds for fire-fighting and fish (more food).

Food shortages are looming around the world. Growing a garden, like anything else, is easy once you know how. Go to for help to assure your family's food security. I'll be glad to answer questions.

All three pieces on this theme of Sustainability & Self-Sufficiency can be accessed at under FOOD & SHELTER FOR ALL.

Wall Street has brought us down; many will be homeless and destitute if we do not begin NOW to create provisions for our food and warm shelter.

Do not think you are immune to the worldwide collapse of money and food supplies. Consider organic farming; it's a wonderful way of life.

Nancy Oden lives in Jonesboro,Maine, USA. Her email is .


Published by the Machias Valley News Observer — July 5, 2009

Poisoning Our Babies

by Nancy Oden

On June 28, the New York Times published an article stating what many people already knew from experience: that pesticides are harming babies even before they're born.

On June 23 Environmental Health News published scientific studies on damage to humans by the pesticide (herbicide) Roundup, Monsanto Chemical Company's heavily-advertised lead product.

Monsanto used to say — until it was sued — that Roundup is "safe when used as directed." However, neither Roundup nor any other pesticide is ever safe. Federal law forbids anyone to make that claim. And Roundup is far from "safe."

This brief piece just touches the surface of the articles referenced. To read the original articles, go to the originating websites:

    3. and another on Roundup,

The gist of the New York Times article is that endocrine-disrupting chemicals, which imitate estrogen (female hormone), are disrupting the sexuality and fertility of humans and many other life forms.

Most, if not all, pesticides contain some form of chlorine. Chlorine chemistry synthesizes dioxins, endocrine-disrupting chemicals lasting up to hundreds of years. As tens of thousands of boy babies which would have been expected to be born have not showed up, scientists now have realized that endocrine-disrupting chemicals have invaded female uteruses while they were carrying babies.

If boy fetuses do not get the exact amount of progesterone and testosterone at exactly the right time in their fetal development, they may have tiny penises and thus be mistaken for girl babies.

Or they will simply end up as actual females, albeit perhaps a bit masculinized. Or they will have holes in their penises from which their urine dribbles (called hypospadias). Most parents do not speak of this but attempt to have the abnormality corrected surgically so as not to stigmatize the child, but hormone disruption can cause many problems throughout the boy babies' lives, including deformed sperm and/or very low sperm counts.

Conversely, female babies exposed to endocrine-disrupting chemicals may develop endometriosis, wherein uterine tissue (acts the same as the uterus) spreads throughout the abdominal cavity, sometimes attaching to other organs and growing. This tissue cramps and bleeds every month when the uterus sheds its lining of blood during the female menstruation.

Endometriosis is a painful affliction which often cannot be cured; it also affects females' ability to become pregnant. Endometriosis used to be quite rare, but now it's common due to endocrine-disrupting chemical exposure.

Also, the human male sperm count is declining by about 1-2 percent a year due to endocrine-disrupting and other toxic chemicals. All species on earth which have been exposed to these chemicals-and these chemicals are ubiquitous-also have lowered and still lowering sperm counts.

None of this bodes well for the survival of humans and other species. Use of these chemicals, as any sane person surely will acknowledge, must end.

This reporter recommends you read the articles, and then speak up. Our future is at stake, and this is not said lightly.

Nancy Oden's email is and website is


Published by the Bangor Daily News, Bangor, Maine — April 30, 2009

Survival: Here’s What We Can Do

by Nancy Oden

When working families lose their jobs, and then lose their homes, how can they stay afloat as a family, given that living in one’s vehicle is not acceptable?

Instead of spending billions trying to put this Humpty-Dumpty economy back together again — which is not possible now — we need to take a fresh look at our society and how we’re managing our resources.

Maine has plenty of land and water, making us ideal for farming. Peter Vigue of Cianbro Corp. said this, too, which makes me hopeful. If Mr. “Privatize the World” Vigue is talking about organic farming as part of Maine’s future, then we may have an idea upon which nearly all of us can agree.

But my idea is just a bit different; not big, one-crop, monoculture farms, but many small to mid-sized, diversified organic (no manmade chemicals) farms throughout Maine. So how can we segue from paper mills to organic vegetables and meat?

Here’s the basic concept: we locate a nice, high-ground site of at least 100 acres, build extremely energy-efficient multiple housing units which use virtually no fossil fuels, install greenhouses along South side as part of living space to absorb sun’s rays in winter to help heat housing, and invite out-of-work workers who’ve lost their homes to live there while they learn new/old skills needed to survive hard times, and they can then start their own small farms or businesses.

These skills would be mostly agriculturally-related, for example: growing seedlings/foods in attached greenhouses year-round, growing food in raised beds outside in South-facing fields for themselves and others in need, practicing animal husbandry/wifery with chickens, sheep, bees, etc., learning carpentry, being taught handwork skills (sewing, weaving, knitting, crocheting, repairing clothes, etc.), building and installing solar panels, composting food and yard wastes to cut down on waste, etc.

Come to the Common Ground Fair in Unity the 3rd week in September to see many, many existing Maine agricultural crafts and small businesses.

Work crews could go out on learning forays as apprentices with experienced carpenters, mason, etc., and potentially earn some money by doing so.

Importantly, the workers would not be on charity; they would earn their room and board by working in the greenhouses and fields a certain amount of time, say 20 hours a week, and the rest of the time they would be learning other trades, such as repairing items which formerly would have been thrown away, making new from old as donated textiles (used clothing) are re-made into quilts, dolls, other clothes, pillows, window quilts to keep heat in, re-upholstering furniture, etc.

People need a purpose in life or they become depressed, sedentary, and a drain on society as a whole. I believe it’s our job, collectively, as a responsible society, to ensure that our citizens have warm shelter and enough food to eat, along with good, productive, satisfying work, which farming certainly is.

This College for Practical Skills would enable out-of-work workers and their families to live comfortably but simply within the energy-efficient buildings while learning new, important survival skills which will benefit us all.

We do not want thousands of desperate people, including children, marauding throughout the countryside looking for food or shelter. To allow our neighbors to get in such desperate straits would be unacceptably immoral on our part.

Maine needs about 50,000 more small to mid-sized, diversified farms just to feed ourselves. With imported food becoming more expensive and less safe, home-grown, organic food from neighborhood farms becomes necessary for everyone’s health.

Owners of dormant farms, and there are many, would be happy to have their lands worked again, either by leasing or selling the land.

It’s quite simple, really. We need good, clean food, and out-of-work, homeless workers need warm shelter and good, productive work.

Having enough food is basic to civil society; lacking enough food, people become hunter-gatherers, and in today’s world that’s dangerous for us all.

If you have ideas to add, please e-mail me.

Our tax dollars need to be spent on what’s good for us - we, the people – instead of allowing bad actors like the Wall Street Gangs to gobble it all up while laughing in our faces and taking our homes.

Time for we, the people, to speak up and get involved in making the decisions that affect our lives. Nothing will change until we do.

Nancy Oden lives in Jonesboro,Maine, USA. Her email is .


The following piece was Nancy Oden's response to 9-11, and was printed in the Bangor Daily News on September 14, 2001. It is still, perhaps even more so, relevant today.

What We Could Do Instead

by Nancy Oden

All good people abhor the death and destruction of this past week [September 11, 2001].

People of the world want peace. But they also want justice.

Looking past today, we need to learn how to stop terrorism, how to break the cycle of hatred and revenge. We need to come up with JUST AND POSITIVE ALTERNATIVES.

Clearly, the way countries now deal with one another isn't working. The world needs leaders who will set good examples for Earth's peoples.

Can we not use this latest Disaster as a starting point for working together towards peace? There is no security in revenge, only a continuous escalation of killing once the hatreds are solidified.

What can we do so people do NOT feel they have to attack others?


  1. Stop interfering. If American-based corporations choose to take risks by attempting to steal another country's natural resources, do not support these corporations with American military or in any way. In fact, corporations should be actively discouraged from taking advantage of poor regions of the world, including in the U.S.A.
  2. Stop U.S. military incursions and blockades of needed food and other goods anywhere in the world. These anti-human acts, being engaged in by U.S. military every day, kill many civilians and engender permanent hatreds towards Americans.
  3. Stop selling arms to the world, which enables many, who would not otherwise have the means, to attack and kill others.
  4. Bring all American troops home from all over the world. We do not need far-flung bases whose only purpose is to protect U.S. businesses. Let U.S. corporations, so busy using up Earth's resources and beggaring Earth's life forms, protect themselves. "Defense" should mean only that; defending ourselves when necessary against harm.
  5. Stop the manufacture and sale of most pesticides and industrial toxic chemicals; especially stop shipping hazardous chemical wastes to Third World nations. Have full public disclosure and debate before the creation and/or use of any toxic chemical, with citizens wherever there might be exposure having the right to make these decisions.
  6. After we've stopped the military and toxic incursions into people's lives, then begin working on how to share and help one another. Each country is bound to have expertise or goods that others need or want.
    Share whatever we can in emergencies, and work out FAIR TRADE among nations so that no one is cheated and no country's people are enslaved or, despite working long hours, kept in extreme poverty.
  7. Send helpers to all corners of the Earth to:
  • Bring health care, which should be available to all no matter their monetary situation;
  • Clean up environmental messes and assure clean water supplies for all;
  • Encourage people everywhere to live lightly on Earth, not buying or consuming goods they do not need, so as to leave some resources for the future;
  • Assist in growing food crops suitable for each climate. Ensure control by the people of that region over what's planted to assure their needs are met.
  • Build/rebuild houses and necessary social structures (schools, hospitals), especially where the U.S. military has done them harm;
  • Work to relieve suffering of all kinds, wherever it may be. The U.S. has a lot to answer for to many peoples of Earth.

Only by helping others and encouraging other countries to do the same, and by working to undo the harm U.S. corporations and military have done, can we hope to achieve peace, cooperation, and genuine democracy amongst human beings on this Earth.

— Nancy Oden, Jonesboro, Maine - September 2001

Do right, and risk consequences.
— Sam Houston

The following piece appeared on January 28, 2008, in Counterpunch.

Do Right, Risk Consequences

Survival Tips for Hard Times

by Nancy Oden

Our country has been bankrupted by wars, corporate and political corruption, and tax breaks for the rich. Times are getting harder and harder. We know all this. What can we do to survive?

States can help their people by:

  1. Eliminating all corporate subsidies and tax breaks. Corporations complain, but they pay fewer taxes than they did 25 years ago. This would give us billions nationally every year.
  2. Saying "yes" to new taxes if they benefit people, not corporations. Tax luxury boats, expensive cars, jewelry, furs, and heavy taxes on personal and corporate income over $500.000, no taxes on personal incomes below $25,000.
  3. Eliminating 2/3 of state universities' administrators, which would free up millions in every state for tuition breaks and more teaching faculty.
  4. Building community gardens and driving able-bodied people on welfare and their children to the gardens regularly to grow their own food, saving us money and teaching self-reliance.
  5. NO tax rebates because they do NOT help the neediest. In order to qualify for a tax rebate, one must make enough money to pay taxes. Millions of people do not. Instead, allocate grants so that every adult has at least $1,000 a month to live on.
  6. Social Security tax stops being taken out of people's paychecks after they've grossed $102,000. in any given year. I propose states start taking the same amount at that point, then start again after the $102,000. mark is reached each year. No one making that kind of money will even notice.
  7. Eliminating control of pesticides from state agriculture departments, which never saw a pesticide they didn't like. Put pesticide control in with other hazardous chemicals departments where they belong. This should save millions of dollars in each state and provide better oversight of these too-ubiquitous poisons.
  8. Encouraging people to share their homes, and give willing homeowners grants to make separate apartments, either to save fuel in winter or year-round.
  9. State could lease large homes so several women on welfare and their children could live together. Single moms can then share household costs and chores, grow gardens, and get jobs because they'll be sharing child care.
  10. States set example on energy conservation:
    --Turn off room lights in all State building rooms with windows, letting the sun provide natural light;

    --Encourage public agencies to set thermostats at no more than 60-62 degrees in winter and 75-78 in summer; encourage people to dress for the weather, not the latest half-naked fashion. I say this as I sit here in my 56 degree farmhouse wearing three pairs of socks, long underwear, turtleneck with two wool sweaters on top while the thermometer outside reads 5 degrees. Here in Maine we dress appropriately or freeze to death;
    --Turn out streetlights nearly everywhere. This alone would result in huge energy savings and taxpayers' money throughout the country;

    --Do not encourage more methane burners as at certain older dumps or manure piles, since methane is a key greenhouse gas;
    --Do not support the importation of LNG, since burning LNG also leads to global warming;
    --Break up the big power grids, build more local power generators-wind, solar, small hydro, etc.--so we aren't all power-less when one little squirrel gets into a generator three states away. Also, rural people should not have to pay for huge, energy-generating facilities to keep heedless cities' air conditioning and lights on all night;
  11. Any new prisons should be large, organic farms so inmates can grow their own food and be taught useful life skills. More on this at
  12. States should purchase all the oil used in their state at best possible price using their superior buying power (from Venezuela, most likely), pass those savings along to oil dealers, who will pass the savings on to customers.
  13. State should buy efficient wood stoves and sell them at cost to low-income people who need them, along with a safety course. Everyone should have backup for when the power goes out, as it does, and will more from now on as we move into more frenetic weather events.
  14. "Economic Development" (read "I want to make money from this") people bemoan the fact that there are too many older and retired people. Having many older people should be cause for rejoicing. Older people spend locally, are involved in virtually no crime or drug dealing, have no small children to raise our school taxes, have low accident rates, and are good citizens. Retired people should be treated as a precious resource, full of knowledge, who can be called upon to help guide local affairs and mentor younger people.
  15. Health care: let's pool our money and self-insure. Already insured: Social Security and disability recipients, prisoners, current and ex-military, federal and state employees, federal and state legislatures, governors, university employees, people on welfare, Indian tribes, homeless and others in total penury (it's called "emergency room," and we end up paying for it, as most of the above), and some fortunate corporate employees whose health care packages haven't yet been shredded. With so many already health-insured, it should be a rather simple matter to turn health care into one, big, all-inclusive system, thereby saving billions in corporate insurance companies' "overhead" and bloated profits.
  16. Stop allowing our natural resources to be wasted by simply dumping "garbage" into pits. Re-use all reusables, compost food waste, recycle everything possible, take buildings apart carefully so still-good materials can be re-used. This will save tipping fees and help keep our woods and waters clean.
  17. Banks should be leaned on to provide low interest rates to lower-income people struggling to pay their mortgages. This is an important task for states' governors.

But, in order to effect Real Change, we need to have Real Democracy where We, the People, make the decisions that affect our lives.

This country has been disgraced by the actions of a few in the eyes of the world. We. the People, can help restore the respect of the world by our good works.

Do right, and risk consequences.


Nancy Oden is an environmental and political activist. She lives in Jonesboro, Maine and can be reached at .

Her website is

She welcomes your ideas for how we can survive the coming difficult times.

Bangor Daily News, August 9, 2007

Where inmates can grow free

by Nancy Oden

Drug- and alcohol-related crimes, plus mandatory, lengthy sentences have caused serious overcrowding of Maine's jails and prisons.

Simply locking inmates in cages, where they loll about, eating, sleeping and watching TV, is terribly expensive and does not help them get ready for the outside world.

Our idea is to create a 100-acre-plus organic farm where inmates grow their own food (saving us money), as well as food for the needy.

On this organic farm, called Clean Earth Farms, inmates can learn organic farming and gardening, carpentry, plumbing, electricity using solar and wind, building with sustainable materials, first aid, and other survival

Since virtually all inmates are going to be released, they can use these skills to start small, independent businesses or organic farms in their communities. Maine needs thousands more small farmers to grow enough food for our food security.

We want them to be good, productive members of society, not in-and-out-of-prison career criminals.

The inmate residents of Clean Earth Farms can help prepare us for the economic and environmental problems we'll soon be facing: extreme weather, shortages of food, oil, clean water, wildlife, fish and so on.

The expectation is that these inmates, mostly young males, former drug addicts and alcoholics, will go back into the communities and live the life they've learned, passing their newfound skills to others so we can live mostly free of big oil and pesticide-poison agriculture.

Inmates can, as part of their community service while at Clean Earth Farms:

  • Build raised garden beds for older and disabled people so they, too, can grow some of their own food.
  • Plant community gardens so people on welfare or disability can also raise their own food.
  • Help build fish hatcheries to restock the coastal fisheries and inland waters.
  • Install windmills and solar arrays on community buildings to save taxpayers' money on energy.
  • Raise bees to pollinate crops and supply (only) organic blueberry growers with local bees, instead of the sickly migratory bees which bring in the diseases attacking our native bees.
  • Turn discarded clothing and other recyclables into useful items such as rugs, blankets, toys, etc., making "new from old."
  • Compost food garbage into garden soil, thereby saving taxpayers' money on tipping fees and re-using natural materials.
  • Recycle waste wood from construction sites into firewood for local people.
  • Plant trees where they've been stripped from the land, including fruit and nut trees, hardwoods and softwoods, so we again have enough firewood, building materials and food for us and wildlife, wildlife habitat and trees to keep us cool and slow down strong winds, enough woods to slow down and absorb floodwaters, provide us with much beauty and enjoyment and absorb many pollutants from our air.

Clean Earth Farms should have a 24-hour hotline for people overdosing or panicking while on drugs or alcohol, and they should be taken in immediately, if that's what is needed. The point is to help both the addicts and the community at the same time.

There should also be a section for veterans so they can be with others who will understand their particular problems.

There could also be a section for long-timers (those who committed more serious crimes) who are not problem inmates, most of whom would jump at the chance to do something useful instead of simply rotting away in a cage.

We might also consider having inmates build simple, plain, low-cost housing for poor and homeless people, and for themselves when they're released. Since prisoners often have a difficult time finding jobs and housing, they could live there and earn their keep by doing continuous community service for others in need.

Clean Earth Farms' buildings could be of concrete with greenhouses attached to the entire south walls to help heat the buildings and grow seedlings for the farm and community gardens. Solar and wind arrays could provide most of the energy needs, along with the energy-efficient buildings' use of natural light.

Gardens would be raised beds, which are worked by hand, so that no machinery would be needed.

The facility should be easily reachable by workers, who could also grow and gather food for their families. This should minimize boredom, the bane of prison guards.

Work would not be optional at Clean Earth Farms. Everyone works, everyone eats.

Many inmates do not know how to work, never having done so. If we teach them how to read and how to work and give them the skills to survive out in the world, then we will have lessened the number of inmates who come back, and we will have created productive citizens who are a credit to their families and the community.

This facility would create many good jobs, especially since it could be built to handle as many inmates as necessary.

We probably won't save them all, but we will have tried, and I'm confident we can help many lead healthy, good lives.

Let's not let the private, for-profit prison corporations take over. To them, more prisoners equal more profits at taxpayers' expense.

No, we want fewer prisoners, lower taxes and people with needed skills coming out of our jails and prisons.

Time to do what's best for Maine people, not wealthy corporations. These are our young people; it's up to us to help them as best we can.

Nancy Oden lives in Jonesboro.
Her e-mail is

Bangor Daily News, May 2007

Prisons, Garbage, Pesticides, and More

by Nancy Oden

"Economic development, " indeed!  Washington County is treated like a Third-World country.  That is, stripping and extracting natural resources, along with poisoning the land and waters-and thereby poisoning all creatures who live here--are what opportunistic self-servers call "economic development" for Washington County.

            Here are current and proposed so-called "economic development" projects for Washington County:

  • a large prison to bring in prisoners for private profit (we've put in a counter-proposal to help our young people with rehabilitation, see BDN story May 19, go to to read it);
  • a large dump for other people's toxic trash in Township 14, some of which has been coming into Washington County for years, including from Canada (we're counter-proposing recycling, composting, re-using materials to lower tipping fees);
  • LNG terminals, which would ruin the area and bring in huge ships full of explosive gas to be piped to cities, not to us (we're counter-proposing wind, solar, tidal energy, and eco-tourism);
  • an expensive, DOT boondoggle bridge which should have been built in a straight line farther North instead of taking people's homes for a roundabout, an overpass, and extensive roadwork through the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, which will disturb the eagle's nest on Route 1;
  • clearcutting of woods by (1) tree-burning incinerators which sell electricity to cities, (2) paper companies, (3) wreath-makers who then spray poisons to kill hardwoods we need for firewood and building materials, not to mention wildlife habitat, and (4) greedy, strip-and-run logging companies;
  • poisoning of Washington and Hancock counties with aerial pesticide spraying on so-called "wild" blueberries, which drifts poisons onto our children, wildlife, organic gardens, domestic animals, and anyone out of doors.
  • Pesticides are a primary agent in the death of honeybees, so crucial for food production.  This poisoning of Nature, going on today as I write, will continue into July.
  • DOT having our railroad tracks, which belong to the people of Maine, torn up and sold for salvage.  A "rails to trails" group wants to take over our railroad beds for snowmobiles and 4-wheelers.  Some of these people have suggested the "trail," which runs right along Route 1 and through some woods, should ban hikers, people on bicycles, and horseback riders.  They say people walking or bicycling or riding horseback might get in the way of snowmobiles and four-wheelers, as if the loud, noisy machines owned the people's right of way on our railroad tracks.
    Stunningly stupid as it seems, they are serious since, they say, walkers, bicyclers, and horseback riders complaining about machines running them off the trail might complain, which might make the machines slow down.
  • Proposing casinos or racinos which don't mean good, productive work, only money pouring in for the sponsors, who don't even want the gambling dens on their own properties, but would put them somewhere about 50 miles out in other people's backyards.  Gambling dens aren't about jobs; they're about raking money off the top without doing much work;
  • DOT involvement again:  a jetport proposal for a totally wrong place, and without coming up with a single entity which would actually use it (we've proposed alternative places, even though we still don't need another airport, since we have Trenton Airport to the South and Princeton Airport to the North, both of which accept jets now);

So, is this "economic development," or is it self-serving on the part of some State bureaucrats and the same "good old boys" crowd?  You decide.

Better to expend our energies saving our natural beauty and natural resources, rather than letting opportunistic self-servers destroy what's left.

We need to change society's (actually, corporate) priorities from "anything for money" to "what's the best way to solve this problem" and then figure out how to do what's best, what's right, without considering who's going to get rich.

If we keep on this path, we'll get where we're going.  None of us will like that future.

We can slow down climate catastrophes, but only if you and you and you speak out and keep speaking out until we get it right.

Please enter the fray against corporations' creed of "money over all."  Either We, the People, take over and start making good decisions, or we will get where we're going - faster than anyone thought.

Nancy Oden of Jonesboro, is coordinator of Clean Water Coalition.
(207)497-5727, ,


Should TOWNSHIP 14 become a SACRIFICE ZONE for from-away Toxic Trash?

Clean Water Coalition had a great Public Hearing in front of the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission on Thursday, November 9. (Read the Clean Water Coalition intervenor testimony to LURC.)

Over 100 Washington County citizens came to speak out against a huge toxic dump proposed for beautiful woods and waters in Township 14, Washington County. We got their geologist to admit, on the record, that ALL DUMPS LEAK!

Now we wait for LURC's decision whether they'll re-zone 190 acres for a dump within an 8-square-mile parcel.

We will keep you posted. You can call 497-5727 or email .


"Do right, and risk consequences."

We need to work for Real Democracy, where We, the People, not corporations, make the decisions that affect our lives: decisions regarding our woods, waters, wildlife, fisheries, as well as major projects and anything else which might affect our peace and quiet should be decided by us.

Clean Water Coalition has been working to keep other people's garbage and nuclear waste out of Washington County, stop pesticide spraying, and keep corporations and get-rich-quick developers from turning Downeast Maine into a place where we wouldn't want to live.

(Read the Clean Water Coalition intervenor testimony to LURC.)

Positive alternatives have always been offered, and some have been put in place, but we're still being threatened by harmful schemes (see below).

Severe international crises loom: economic meltdown, climate change, shortages of clean drinking water, and more. We in Downeast Maine can survive these crises if we:

  1. stop corporations and state agencies from using pesticides, which poison our drinking water, the fish and wildlife, and get into our bodies causing long-term health problems. For clean alternatives to pesticides, see or
  2. encourage our young people to start farming, chemical-free, so we have healthy, local food and food supply security; work to get out of debt and buy fewer "things" we don't need to have economic security; teach our young people traditional skills and crafts, etc.
  3. be more conservative using fossil fuels while building solar, wind, tidal, and small hydro energy generators for our use.
  4. plant millions of trees in clear-cuts and around our homes for cooling shade, food (fruits and nuts), flood control, wildlife habitat, creation of oxygen we need to breathe, absorption of greenhouse gases, wood for buildings and woodstoves, and wind breaks to protect us from high winds and bad storms. Planting many, many trees is critical to our survival.

Some ideas for good, clean, satisfying livelihoods are in the piece right below.

Our woods are stripped and shipped away, wildlife decimated for lack of habitat and pesticide poisoning, Maine's fish are not to be eaten due to poisons in their flesh, even the oceans have been taken over by foreign boats over-fishing and corporations growing sickly fish in cages so that we cannot throw in a line and catch supper anymore.

These destructive acts have taken place without citizens' knowledge or consent.

Several harmful proposals are now in process. We have time to stop them (call 497-5727 to help) with concerted efforts, and we need YOU:

  • Large dump in Township 14 for other people's garbage, including toxic construction and demolition debris from away;
  • Ruination of Eastport, Pleasant Point, Perry, Robbinston, Cutler, Red Beach, and Calais shores with destructive, ugly, liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, which would encourage oil refineries and other dirty industries to move in, too, with loud noise, 24-hour bright lights, unbelievably large LNG ships which are simply huge bombs, death of fishing in the area, and contamination of ocean and air with natural gas off-gassing;
  • Jetport in Jonesboro (pop. 540) for no reason at all except that there is "free" taxpayer money from Maine DOT and the FAA to build it. Trenton jetport is less than an hour from Jonesboro. If such a project is ever actually needed, there are better places.
  • Maine DOT proposal to tear up most of Washington County's railroad tracks and sell them for scrap. This proposal, initiated by some self-serving "economic development" people who want an ATV-snowmobile trail for those with time and money to waste, would pollute our air and create a lot of noise. Not a popular idea here. We need DOT to repair our railroad tracks so we have, again, reliable pubic transport for ourselves and our goods.
  • DOT plans a bridge across the St. Croix to New Brunswick in the wrong place, ruining more wetlands, taking people's homes, and costing millions more than the proper, logical place: where Route 9 meets Route 1. The wrong site means DOT would build a 4-lane highway through the Moosehorn Wildlife Refuge right where the eagles nest on Route 1 in Calais. Shouldn't happen.

Other problems: need more decent, affordable housing, curtail drug use amongst our young (keep them busy with good projects), health care for all, no more poison spraying, too high property taxes for low-income people, etc.

Being too pessimistic is not healthy; we can survive if we do what needs to be done. We need to elect those who will work for PEOPLE first, rather than corporate profits, people who know what they're doing and who cannot be bought.

Many more good, knowledgeable, brave people will be needed to change what is into what should be. We hope you will join us in that formidable, but necessary, task.

Democracy: we want the real thing.

—Nancy Oden

Published in Bangor Daily News, October 29, 2006
Modified November 13, 2006

Working with What We Have

— by Nancy Oden, Jonesboro, Maine

Enough hand-wringing over Washington County. We live here because we want to, and no one is starving in the streets. If they were, we'd help them.

Yes, salaries are lower here, but if that's what people care most about, they can move to the cities where pay is higher. So is rent, and traffic, crowds, and noise are rife. They would miss the wild beauty we share Downeast.

However, anarchy rules as our woods, waters, wildlife, and fisheries are looted and poisoned by paper mill corporations, chemical-dependent growers, and thoughtless individuals.

Since these natural resources are necessary for our lives and livelihoods, we have to save them.

Here are some ideas for good, productive, satisfying livelihoods for Washington County. to the Maine Senate, I would promote legislation to do the following:

  1. Short timetable (2-3 years) for agricultural and other pesticide sprayers—DOT, city parks, apartment owners, lawn care companies, hospitals, etc.—to switch to easily available, clean methods of keeping unwanted species at bay;
    The state should help pay for the changeover because clean water in our lakes, rivers, coastal waters, and groundwater aquifers is critical for everyone's existence here;
  2. Help our young people start up small, organic farms so they can have satisfying, productive livelihoods, and we can have food security. Many small businesses serve farmers, so the economic ripple effect of several thousand more small farms in Maine would be widespread;
  3. Eliminate the need for incinerators and most dumps by:
    1. setting up a collection system for food waste so it can be composted back into garden dirt;
    2. collecting other throwaways--clothes, toys, books, tools, housewares--into recycling centers so jobs can be created making "new from old" (quilts, floor pillows for children or pets, etc.) out of used clothing, fixing mend-able objects, recycling construction throwaway wood into firewood, and re-using whatever else can be salvaged, all to be sold at cost locally;
    3. re-use paint and other hazardous materials as much as possible so we aren't disposing of poisons into our woods and waters, and require factories to neutralize their toxic chemicals before releasing them into our air or water;
  4. Hire our young people, and/or require school community service, to plant millions of hardwood, fruit, and nut trees wherever we can, especially in industrial clearcut; Trees absorb greenhouses gases helping slow climate change, provide wildlife food and shelter, building materials and food and firewood for us, as well as shade to keep our houses cool and act as windbreakers. Parts of the world are becoming tree-less deserts; we can't let that happen here. Trees also add great beauty to our lives;
  5. Require industry and government to conserve fuel, hire people to install solar, wind, small hydro, tidal energy systems which should be locally owned and controlled, and tighten up people's homes, our public buildings;
  6. Do NOT remove Washington County's railroad tracks and sell them for scrap, which is a stunningly stupid idea of the Maine Dept. of Transportation and "economic development" people who have money and time to waste.
    Fix railroads throughout Maine, so that people and goods can travel comfortably and safely, while creating much less pollution than from trucks and personal vehicles.
    Also, hire people for all Maine borders to see what's in trucks or trains coming in so we can stop radioactive and other hazardous materials from being dumped in our woods and waters. 
  7. Health care for all. Plan: fire all the insurance companies. Pay what we're paying now into one big pot (over 25 percent of Maine people are already on federal Medicare, so they're taken care of), elect regional boards to run the plan, hire qualified people to help make decisions and payments, and be accountable only to ourselves. We can do this, save money, and provide health care - including natural methods - for all Maine citizens.

All of the above ideas would save taxes, create good, satisfying livelihoods, keep Maine clean, and give us food, energy, and health independence, especially Downeast Maine since we seem to be on our own most of the time — and we like it that way.

We need to fight for our woods, waters, wildlife, and fisheries against the monied interests who would use them all up for their own selfish gain, leaving us to feed the blackflies.

— Nancy Oden lives in Jonesboro. She can be reached at 207-434-6228 or e-mail . Her website is


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