There is a new requirement (as of April 1 of this year) in the state of Maine that agricultural producers who sell more than $1000 of produce must be licensed by the Maine Board of Pesticide Control. It does’t matter if you use only organic practices, the size of your operation, anything. You have to take and pass a basic test on all levels and sorts of pesticides to be licensed. I did not want to do this. The only pesticide I use is Bt, which is approved for organic production, and I use it very sparingly, mainly when the tomato hornworms start munching the tomatoes or towards the end of the brassica season when I need to take row covers off the broccoli and I have those little green caterpillars to contend with. Beyond that, all of my controls are cultural or mechanical. Lots of hand weeding and picking off potato beetles, for instance.
So it was with great reluctance and resistance that I took this test. I got the manual that the Board of Pesticide Control provides and worked through all 197 pages of it, along with the review questions at the end of each chapter. So much of the manual covered things I am very against, and it only re-enforced my resistance to pesticide use. I mean really, when those who apply the chemicals to our food must suit up in disposable coveralls, boots, face guards, breathing apparatus, gloves. Think about it. Do we want to eat that food? Can we really control the stuff and keep it from leaching into the water. Oi. But I had to learn enough to pass this exam. Those around me for the last month endured my complaints about having to know about calculating calibrating a boom sprayer, a device I’ve never seen and have no chance of ever using here. I was wading into foreign territory.
I laboriously read each chapter in the manual, answered the questions at the end of the chapters, looked up the correct answers, and then Julie started drilling me on all of those questions. I had those 350 or so questions memorized. Two weeks ago I went to the Extension Office in Warren and took the test of 100 questions. To pass I had to get 80 percent correct. Was I disappointed to find that the test itself was not selected from the questions I had memorized. They were different questions. Eek. I figured that I got 15 wrong, three I wasn’t sure of my answers, so for the past two weeks I was worried that I wouldn’t pass the test and would have to do it again. And again. And again.
But yesterday I got the notice that I passed. With a 93. I figure it was a good thing many of the ones I thought I got wrong were true-false questions so I had a 50-50 chance of getting them right and the odds went my way. So today I will send in my $15 and application for the license, good for three years. And to avoid re-taking the test over the next three years I have to get three continuing education credits approved by the BPC. I hope there are some MOFGA courses that I can take that will at least be relevant. Because there is relevant information here, and I do pay attention to insect damage, pathogens that harm the crops, deer and voles, weed pressure. I just want to figure out ways to deal with these that have little to do with synthetic pesticides and herbicides.
One Response to I passed!
Saw your 3 rugs at Essex show..hooked in the mountains…loved all 3…love the designs…with subject working in the borders…etc…it wasn’t until I got home and Googled you that I realised it was the person I always try and stop in and see at hedgerow when we are down in Maine visiting from canada