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MOFGA volunteers are featured in every issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

 MOFGA Volunteer Profiles Minimize

Lizz Atwood - Summer 2006 | Kim Bolshaw - Winter 2006 | Bill Whitman - Fall 2007 | Rosa Libby - Winter 07-08 | Travis Collins - Spring 2008 | Vicky Burwell - Summer 2008 | Anu Dudley - Fall 2008 | Mary Chamberlin - Winter 08-09 | Danya Klie – Fall 2009
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From The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener
June - August 2006


by Marada Cook

Lizz Atwood speaks in a low, wry tone.  "I started volunteering the second time I went to the Fair – in third grade." She has picked trash, shaped clay in the Children's Area, cleaned the mess up afterwards, made change for Give Peas a Chance (the food booth of Peace Action Maine) and hung out in Peace Action Maine's booth in the Social and Political Action Area with her mother, Debbie Atwood. This year Lizz turned thirteen.

"Last year I saw someone go by and they had on one of those bright yellow shirts that said on the back, 'Volunteer Staff'," Lizz laughed. "I said, Oh my gosh, Mom, I want one of those shirts."

Debbie Atwood is the associate director of Peace Action Maine. She has home-schooled her two daughters for the past year and a half.  She has participated in the Fair since it was in Windsor, volunteering for the Maine Time Dollar Network, Maine Interfaith Power & Light, the Children's Area, the Fair Planning Team and for Peace Action Maine before becoming a staff person there.  She organizes 30 to 40 volunteers for the food booth, and knows motivation when she sees it.  She encourages it in her daughters.

"My mom introduced me to [fair director] Barbara Luce and said, This is Lizz, and she wants to coordinate something at the Fair next year."  Luce took note of Lizz's interest in animals and paired her up with Cathy Reynolds, Livestock Area Coordinator.

"Cathy came right over and said, 'I hear you have a 16-year-old who wants to help,'" Debbie said. "Well, Lizz was eleven."  Officially both Atwoods were signed up, but "Lizz was really off doing her own thing," Debbie said, "which is wonderful."

"Lizz jumped right in and was real clear about what she would and would not be able to do," Reynolds said.  She gave her the task of coordinating the speakers for the Livestock Speakers Tent.  "It is a small thing that takes a lot of persistence and follow-up."

Lizz called Karl Rau and Don Hoenig. She called Judith Hermon and Rick Kersbergen. She arranged speakers on topics as diverse as "The Colors and Genetics of Pigeons" to "Revitalizing Old Pastures."

"She really thought about how things come together," Reynolds said, "She made sure the talks dovetailed with the other livestock events, that everything fit."

During the Fair Margaret Hathaway-Schatz helped Lizz set up chairs, greet speakers and facilitate lectures.
"There were a few people I hadn't told that I was twelve," Lizz said. "It was funny, and good that Margaret was there." Lizz attended many of the lectures. "I really enjoyed hearing Pam Paige talk about healthy eating tips for household pets," Atwood said.

Last year, Lizz wanted to be a veterinarian, and picked the Livestock Area for that reason. This year she's not so sure. She'd like to get food ready in the Common Kitchen or set up the stage for the musicians.  "I definitely don't want to be a coordinator for a living," she says with a grin. "I think my brain would explode."

Kim Bolshaw
Volunteer Kim Bolshaw is one of the dynamic co-coordinators of the Common Kitchen, which feeds thousands of volunteers at the Fair. English photo.
Volunteer Profile
from The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener
Dec 2006 - Feb 2007


A Pilot Light in the Common Kitchen

by Marada Cook

“So I should take out what, a pound, two pounds?” asks a new kitchen volunteer.  Kim Bolshaw transfers a ceramic mug of mashed potatoes and one-year-old Alice Bolshaw from her right arm to her left.  She looks over her shoulder at a chest freezer of ground beef in the hall.

“Whatever is in there – something like 12 packages.”

“What do I do with them?”

“Walk around that wall – yup – look on your right.  There you go.  There should be some plastic bins.  Put them in one and put it on the table to thaw.  Then remind me to have you put it in the walk-in.”

Kim Bolshaw has been working in the Common Kitchen for nearly 16 years.  For the last 10, she has coordinated Friday night meals, and when she’s not organizing a daily team of 30 to 50 volunteer chefs and veggie choppers, Bolshaw hops right in to assist the other coordinators.  “It’s a marathon,” Bolshaw says. “I usually get here on Wednesday before the Fair, and I’ll stay through the Tuesday after.”  Since the Fair moved to Unity, the number of volunteers fed by the kitchen for dinner has expanded to 350, and often balloons to over 400.  “It takes a huge number of people to make this happen,” she says right away, naming her fellow chefs.  “Each coordinator has their own style.”

Bolshaw hopes her style is something along the lines of on-sight skill assessment.  “I hope to find what would both suit a volunteer’s kitchen experience and – call me selfish – get the most out of them for the kitchen.”

Kitchen volunteer and longtime friend Jules Corkery says Bolshaw’s style is better than simple skill exploitation. “Everything Kim touches has an extra dimension to it.  It’s art and it’s beauty, and her volunteers love her.  She can make anything fun.”

Corkery covered Bolshaw’s shift last year when Alice was days from being born.  “I can’t really thank her enough,” Bolshaw says.  In 1990, Corkery brought Bolshaw to her first Common Ground Country Fair.  “It was the year of the pig shirt,” Bolshaw recalls, “And we got paint from the Children’s Area all over ourselves.”

After fingerpainting,  Bolshaw and Corkery were assigned to parking.  “Everyone just looked so cold, or so hot, or dejected, or something!” Corkery says. “Then Kim got out there and just started moving cars dramatically like she was a New York City traffic cop.”  For a break, they headed to the Common Kitchen.

“Kim and the Common Kitchen were – are – a perfect match,” Corkery says.  “It’s not like she’s some kind of weekend warrior in the kitchen.  She cooks like this, lives high energy like this, all the time.”  Some elements of that ‘perfect match’ come from Bolshaw’s background with whole foods cooking, and some from her ability to roll cheerfully with whatever is coming at her.  “Because so much of the food is donated, we work with what we have, for the most part,” Bolshaw explains, “so a lot of times someone comes in with a recipe in mind and I have to explain, ‘Well we don’t have any bulgar, but we have barley.  They come in with an idea for, say, a chili dish, and I say, ‘Great.  Can you make 15 gallons of it?” 

Bill Whitman (center) coordinates Common Kitchen volunteers and always has new ideas for the Fair and for MOFGA. The latest: maintaining a list of jobs to be done at MOFGA so that “overflow volunteers” at the Fair have something to do. English photo.

Bill Whitman’s Latest Idea

by Marada Cook
From The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener
September - November 2007

Bill Whitman’s first idea for MOFGA came from his volunteer job at the ’77 Common Ground Fair. “I just ran and ran and ran,” he says, “delivering messages from one end of the grounds to the other.” At a wrap-up meeting in the fall, Whitman suggested that MOFGA purchase some walkie-talkies. True to their ‘inspire and empower’ spirit, MOFGA immediately appointed Whitman Director of Logistics. “From then on I worked every single year at the Fair as a volunteer,” he says.

A well known storyteller often found in the Common Kitchen, Whitman’s volunteer work has spanned MOFGA’s various fairgrounds and brings anecdotes from each. He remembers when he, Paul Chartrand and Chaitanya York caught and expelled a thief – without the stolen clothing – one night at an early Fair in Litchfield. As Fair director in Windsor, Whitman gathered another midnight crew to move a chain link fence closer to the raceway to accommodate the food booths. “The fence was only three feet high,” Whitman says, “but we did move it 30 feet.”

Not all Whitman’s work has been in the dead of night. Since 1990, Whitman’s volunteer work has focused on the Common Kitchen. Patty Hamilton met Whitman while preparing potatoes and oatmeal in the early hours of the morning. “At that time Bill was the central person coordinating the kitchen. I was a one-job volunteer – and I liked it that way.” After she finished potatoes and oatmeal, though, Whitman saw that Hamilton would make a great breakfast coordinator. “I’m not sure what he saw in me at the time,” Hamilton says, “but he had a knack for training me while standing behind me and supporting me.”

Part of Whitman’s method of supporting the breakfast coordinator was – and still is – to be the link between each meal, its coordinators, and the rest of the kitchen activities. “Bill pays attention to inventory, organizes the coolers, makes sure leftovers get used, and goes outside the kitchen to pick apples, get milk or find more sausage. He’s a support person.” Although Whitman is rarely ‘in charge’ of a specific meal, Hamilton says, “He’s always there.”

Whitman had long been in charge of soliciting food donations first from farmers and food vendors and then from corporations such as United Foods. Each year he gathered ingredients for the annual 4,400 meals served to volunteers during the Fair. Now Hamilton has responsibility for corporate donations, leaving Whitman with time to work on his latest idea for volunteers at the fair.

“I go to a lot of MOFGA meetings every year,” Whitman says, “sometimes just to be the devil’s advocate and stir people up. I hear feedback from just about everyone and try to direct it where it needs to go.”

This past year he heard that a surplus of volunteers went ‘jobless’ at the Fair. “I can’t think of a time when we don’t need a mass of volunteer force for something around MOFGA,” Whitman says, “but it seems that during the Fair nobody has time to organize them.” For 2008, Whitman has created the ‘Overflow Volunteer Area’ – a collecting point for mulching crews, tree labeling teams, last-minute and thinking-ahead work forces to tackle projects that didn’t get done over the summer. It’s a work force that many area coordinators can tap into if they are caught short for volunteers–and a place to send them if too many show up.

“I think the heart of the Fair is its new ideas,” Whitman says. “Common Ground has inspired so many other fairs around the country, it’s almost as though we have to keep coming up with new tricks every year.” The ‘Overflow Volunteer Area’ is Whitman’s latest trick, and certainly not the last of his ideas for supporting MOFGA at the Fair.

Rosa Libby
Rosa Libby has volunteered at the Common Ground Country Fair since it moved to Unity, and she helps at other MOFGA events as well. The young chef is already bringing her solutions to the problems of the world, and having fun at the same time. English photo.

Volunteer Profile
from The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener
Dec 07 - Feb 08

Rosa Libby –
Ready to Change (and Feed) the World

Yes, she’s the boss’s daughter, but Rosa Libby seems as if she were born to be a MOFGA member and volunteer. Her birthday, after all, almost always falls on the weekend of the Common Ground Country Fair – and that’s where you’ll find her celebrating as she volunteers in various areas.

This year Libby turned 17 on the opening day of the Fair, and her volunteer jobs included painting faces in the Children’s Area and prepping food in the Common Kitchen. Her first Fair volunteer job, 10 years ago, at MOFGA’s first Fair in Unity, was helping kids learn to walk on stilts in the Children’s Area, and “I always did face painting,” she adds. Libby herself became one of the tall stilt walkers seen around the fairgrounds.

As soon as (i.e., the day) she turned 16, she started in the Common Kitchen, where younger kids aren’t allowed to work because of the sharp knives. The Kitchen is the perfect place for this young culinary enthusiast, who has also volunteered at all of MOFGA’s Tastings fundraisers to date, helping with setup and just making sure everything runs smoothly during the event. The self-assured, energetic girl was a constant and cheerful presence at this year’s Tastings, as always, easily conversing with guests and chefs alike while keeping an eye out to see what needed to be done.

A Junior at Maranacook High School, Libby thinks she wants to pursue her culinary interests after high school, or at least study “something in the arts.” Her talents run from dancing (with Kinections in Readfield), to singing with her high school choir, writing poetry and, of course, cooking.

“I always cook for the [MOFGA] board meetings,” she says. She favors making desserts, especially chocolate truffles; lasagna is her favorite main course to make; and she loves grilling. “I’m the grillmaster of the house.”

Volunteering at the Fair “is a great opportunity to meet people your age who are usually passionate about what you are,” Libby explains. “It gives you a chance to start becoming the generation that can change the world, since we get it next – or what’s left of it.”

– J E

Travis Collins
Travis Collins inspects a tree at MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center. English photo.

Unity Arborist
Travis Collins
Develops Tree-Care Plan for MOFGA

Last summer, certified arborist Travis Collins assessed the condition of 100 trees that had been planted on MOFGA’s grounds, and he developed a three-year plan to upgrade the care of the 21 species. The assessment and plan were all done on his own time, as a MOFGA volunteer.

A graduate of Unity College, Collins worked for various arborists in New England before he and his wife and children settled in Unity. Collins still does some tree care and consulting projects, and he’s teaching alternative education at Mount View High School.

A visit to the Common Ground Fair prompted his volunteerism. “A few years back my family and I visited the grounds during a brutally hot Fair day. Throughout the day I had visions of mature, healthy shade trees providing relief for fairgoers.
“During a volunteer work party last spring, C.J. Walke (MOFGA’s landscape coordinator, and a fellow Unity College graduate) asked if I would take a look at the trees and offer advice on their care.” Collins took the request a step further, developing the three-year plan.

The most common problems that Collins found on MOFGA’s trees were inadequate mulch and direct contact of soil and/or mulch with the root collar of some trees. Mulching landscape trees is a good practice, and mulch should extend at least to the drip line of the tree – but mounding mulch against the stem of a tree keeps too much moisture there, potentially rotting bark; inhibits the exchange of oxygen and other gases; and reduces the translocation of plant growth regulators. Collins recommended pulling all soil and mulch away from the critical root collar without damaging stems or delicate roots, and completely exposing the area where the stem “swells” into the main buttress roots. Farther from the tree trunk, mulch should be maintained at 2 to 4 inches deep, he said, and the applied mulch should have been composted for at least six months to prevent nitrogen deficiency.

Collins found a few insect pests, as well – Japanese beetles, twig pruners and aphids on some oaks (red oaks make up 45% of the planted trees); and slug sawfly larvae on hawthorns. Other occasional problems included frost cracks, sunscald, borer holes and sapsucker injury, and Collins noted a need for pruning, improved soil fertility and watering. Overall, however, 85% of the trees were in fair to good condition.

The three-year plan that Collins developed will make caring for MOFGA’s trees manageable, tending the neediest in the first year, and continuing with the remaining trees over the next two years – pruning, mulching, and excavating around root collars. These are great activities for volunteers, the arborist says, and they present educational opportunities.

“Many of the concerns I found with MOFGA’s trees are common to homeowners’ landscape trees,” Collins explains, “especially mulching issues. Long-term ‘volcano’ mulching (excessive mulch piled around the trunk) invariably causes root disorders, reduced vigor and eventual decline. When done properly, mulching with composted wood chips (or your favorite ‘black gold’ recipe) is the simplest, cheapest way to promote overall plant health.”

In addition to evaluating MOFGA’s trees, Collins gave two workshops on “Cultivating Natural Defenses of Trees” at the Common Ground Country Fair. “I was amazed and excited to see how many tree-folk showed up,” he says. “It was crowded in the tent but felt much better when I took the crowd outside. They had many questions long after the talks were over, so I would say fairgoer interest in landscape tree care is indeed high.”

Collins has suggested several other educational programs that MOFGA might consider, including a MOFGA arboretum with signs identifying trees; a guidebook to MOFGA’s trees; a self-guided tour of the arboretum; a library or bookstore with tree-related materials; National Arbor Day events; tree care workshops given in exchange for volunteer labor on MOFGA’s trees; Project Learning Tree workshops (an environmental education program; see plt.org); and a tree ID contest.

“I hope to work with C.J. in the future to organize volunteer and educational workshops and to implement and update the management plan,” he says. “I plan to continue caring for the trees until we can enjoy a shady Fair.”

Vicky Burwell
 Vicky Burwell

Vicky Burwell – Full of Beans: But in a Good Way …

by Marada Cook

“I’m not sure if I’m the right person to interview – there are so many people who do so much more!” True as this may be, Vicky Burwell’s modest exclamation leaves a lot unsaid. In her role as one of (three) Common Ground Fair Folk Arts Area co-coordinators, Burwell supervises the annual ritual of bean hole digging. She lights blazing fires and tends them all day on Thursday. She shops for pounds of organic lard, shortening and spices. She buries 11 pounds of beans in two steaming cauldrons, and when the moment is right, she and a team of volunteers and a tool raise them from the earth to offer unto fairgoers.

The Unity-born speech therapist doesn’t just dole out the Dixie-cups, though; she garnishes each portion with explanation. “Bean hole beans are the original crock pot,” is her sales pitch. Before they know it, even glassy-eyed middle school students stand jaw-dropped beside a hole in the ground. “You mean you cooked that in the DIRT?” they often ask. “Yep,” Burwell replies, and then she’s got her big opening: Maine history, logging lore, culinary know-how, made-from-scratch culture: Burwell has three to five minutes to change the lives of Maine youth. “It’s like playing with kittens,” she laughs.  “They all light up and start saying, ‘WOW!’

“Of course,” she admits, “often they just want to know where the next thing on their school (‘To see’) list is. But sometimes I get the parents hooked too!” She describes return fairgoers who “did the bean hole thing” at a summer barbeque or family reunion. “They love it – like it’s the latest organic party trick or something.”

Burwell’s course to the bean-hole involved culinary school and contra dancing, social work and state government and hardscrabble gardening. It took 30 years, multiple professional burnouts, and one prophetic dream echoing a Kingsolver novel to get her back to Thorndike where she currently lives. “I had this dream about Quaker Hill Road in Unity, where I grew up. I was standing in the sunlight coming through the maple trees thinking, ‘Why on earth would anybody want to live anywhere else but here?’ Then I woke up. I thought, ‘I guess it’s time to move home.’”

The move was good – especially for MOFGA. “When you live 5 miles away from an organization you believe in, it’s pretty hard not to get involved.” Burwell is a long time contra-dance buddy of Folk Arts coordinator Anu Dudley. “I needed a steady hand at the [bean hole] helm,” Dudley says, “someone who had no other distractions during the Fair.” Burwell stepped up, and since 2004 not a single bean has been burnt under her watch. “We had one soggy batch,” she says modestly, “but the broth was delicious!”

Burwell now sits on the Fair steering committee and meets other committee members once a month to plan the upcoming Common Ground Fair. She tips her hat to Melissa Bastian who covers a lot of bases for the Folk Arts Area “that no one else does,” and to Anu Dudley, who is “really the Queen of the Folk Arts Area.”  

Dudley says she values Burwell’s ability to manage things well and adds a quick aside: “Did I mention Vicky is a supreme knitter? We bring our knitting to the Fair, and when things are calm we sit beside the bean hole and knit.” The two friends, the bean hole, the middle school students, the earth, the fire and the baked beans … how much better could it get?

Anu Dudley
Anu Dudley. English photo.

Anu Dudley: Historian At Work
The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener
Fall 2008

by Marada Cook

Twenty-four years is longer than most pets live, longer than most families live in the same house, longer than most couples stay married. Yet this September marks the 24th year that dedicated volunteer Anu Dudley has coordinated the Common Ground Country Fair Folk Arts Area. Dudley is a trained historian and material culturalist. While such training gives one a certain perspective on time, it seems the time has come to congratulate Dudley for sticking with MOFGA through all this time!

Dudley came to Maine in 1977 intending to stay. “I moved about 25 times in as many years,” she says, “both with my parents and while my ex-husband was in medical school.” When a residency position came up for him in Maine, Dudley gave fair warning. “I said we could move to Maine, but I wasn’t ever going to move again. I like to say I got Maine in the divorce settlement.”

After so many moves, being a newcomer was no stranger to Dudley. She has a strategy for quickly integrating into a new community: “The best way for people to notice you is to join something and start helping out the organization.” Dudley joined MOFGA, just in time for the Folk Arts Area.

“The former coordinators had left abruptly,” Dudley says, “which wasn’t a huge deal except they took all their files with them. The Folk Arts Area was basically in shambles.” Dudley had to reconstruct the area from scratch, a process she enjoyed immensely.

“I got a vision of how things should go, because I really believe in the Fair, in the whole mission of MOFGA; I thought there should be some criteria for what was demonstrated within the Folk Arts Area.” No power tools. No merchandising. Traditions focused on the 18th and 19th centuries. Maine-based, and, most importantly, “the presenters had to have an appreciation for the history and tradition of their craft.”

Over the years, the Folk Arts Area grew, adding a second tent and then a performance tent with hourly demonstrations. Dudley started what is now the Herbal Life Tent and quickly passed that on to someone “more involved with the herbal scene in Maine.” Bean hole beans were another popular addition. “People just line up to see those beans come out of the ground,” Dudley says.

Dudley developed a habit of picking up new presenters at contra dances. The Folk Arts Area includes the permanent Blacksmith Shop, which John Phalen oversees. “We were chatting at the dance,” Phalen says, “and Anu just happened to ask what I did. I said, ‘This, this, and this, and oh yeah, I do a bit of blacksmithing.’ That’s how she hooked me.”

Vicki Burwell, bean hole bean coordinator, was also hooked at a contra dance. She says that Dudley’s vision for the Folk Arts Area makes it a “real teaching place … People run into things they’ve only heard about and thought only existed 150 years ago. The Folk Arts Area is sort of a petting zoo for forgotten arts.” She adds that with the latest turn of the economy, more people than ever are flocking to see biscuits baked on an open fire and rugs made by hand. “Anu has created a place where people can be in touch – and really touch – those life sustaining things.”

Coordinating the Folk Arts Area continues all year. Dudley mails applications and schedules presenters; coordinates classes and spaces for each demonstrator; and scrounges for new presenters and “new” old crafts to share. During the Fair, she herself often learns a skill or takes a class from one of the presenters. “Do you have any idea how they got the canvas on those canvas canoes?” she asks, “I didn’t either!”

This year’s additions are cigar box guitar making and archery bow construction. If you know of a craft or tradition that might qualify and you don’t see it at the Fair this year, call MOFGA and ask to contact Anu Dudley. Who knows? You may be the next Folk Arts Area addition …

Mary Chamberlin
Mary Chamberlin. Mary Belding photo.

Mary Chamberlin:
Builder of Outhouses, Campsites and Consensus

Mary Chamberlin, 34, mother of two, current co-coordinator of the Health and Healing Area of the Common Ground Country Fair, has a list of contributions to MOFGA that covers the spectrum of worker hierarchy – everything from digging roots at woodland campsites to managing Fair Steering Committee meetings. One of her finest efforts, she feels, was helping construct MOFGA’s first Common Throne – a two-stalled composting toilet designed for high use. “I’m very proud of being a part of that crew,” she says. “The composting toilets have been tested and come up clean and healthy, and they were certainly busy during the Fair!”

Mary Belding, current Fair Steering Committee chair and Common Ground Farmers’ Market co-coordinator, says the Common Thrones were especially convenient to Farmers’ Market vendors, but the light should shine on Chamberlin’s tenure as Fair Steering Committee chair in 2002-2004. “She was one of our youngest Fair Steering Committee members and our youngest chair ever,” Belding says. “She was always a peacemaker and a good moderator.” Belding adds that moderating a room full of MOFGA members is not always easy. “We have very definite ideas, and a tendency to make them known.”

Chamberlin did her homework on democratic decision making and consensus building. “It took me awhile to get used to the process involved,” she says, “but now I love the meetings and the fact that they go on for hours.” Belding adds that Chamberlin would bring in articles she’d read on topics such as ‘How to Be a Better Communicator.’ “I think it was really a challenge for her at first,” Belding says. “Later I told her, ‘You know, Mary, you’re my hero. You’ve figured out how to manage these meetings while juggling young kids...’” Chamberlin never got riled, Belding adds. “She always kept a positive attitude.”

Chamberlin now co-coordinates the Health and Healing Area with her mother, Margaret Connell. She lines up speakers, organizes tables, and takes calls all year from prospective participants. “We have talks on Native American herbal medicine, and very popular mushroom foraging talks,” she says. “We are always on the lookout for new topics and speakers” – in particular, high school or college age speakers to share their interests.

Chamberlin believes that “alternative healing” is a misnomer, because many of these techniques used to be mainstream. She’s doing her part to change that by supporting these practitioners “to the best of my ability.”

– Marada Cook

Danya Klie
Danya Klie

From The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener
September - November 2009

Danya Klie: A Volunteer for All Seasons

Belfast resident Danya Klie will do just about any volunteer job for MOFGA, as long as it doesn't involved meetings. "I just wait to see what comes up and go with the flow," she says.

She's helped landscape MOFGA's Common Ground Education Center, including setting out a plot of Jerusalem artichokes with Will Bonsall - which was a treat for her due to Bonsall's learned and loquacious nature. She's helped in the MOFGA office and worked in the MOFGA kitchen with chef Cheryl Wixson.

"Danya's the perfect volunteer," says Wixson. "She has a good sense of organization and is willing to tackle any project."

For the Common Ground Country Fair, Klie is the sign distribution coordinator and she runs the food judging contest.

Originally from New Jersey, Klie came to Maine via various other states, including Alaska, which is where "I felt like I found out who I was. I felt like I belonged someplace."

She learned about the kind of community where she wanted to live while in Alaska, but Klie wanted to be in the East and "knew I had to live in one of the three northern New England states."

Belfast, Maine, won, because of a job at a group home, from which Klie retired in 2003. Then she started putting in the hours for MOFGA.

She had visited Maine and had even attended a few Common Ground Fairs in the past, including one in Litchfield and the first Fair in Unity. "The move [to Unity] was quite amazing," says Klie. "It worked out so wonderfully. The first Fair in Unity wasn't chaotic at all. Walking through the woods, coming to that opening ... it was so magical."

Klie maintains a fairly large vegetable garden of her own and does enjoy some meetings: those of the very active MOFGA chapter, the Waldo Organic Growers.

She says she'll continue to do "whatever comes along" for MOFGA, often bringing her twin sister, who has also retired to Belfast, with her.

"With MOFGA, I feel there is constant appreciation shown for volunteers. I don't know who gets more out of it," she says, citing the volunteer appreciation dinner, free food at the Fair's Common Kitchen ... and lots of "thank-yous."

Volunteer coordinator Abby Sadauckas adds to those thanks: "Danya's enthusiasm for MOFGA facilitates a great working relationship. Whether in the kitchen baking bread or out on the grounds weeding gardens, her smile is ever present!"

Want to volunteer for MOFGA or for the Common Ground Country Fair? Contact MOFGA's volunteer coordinator Abby Sadauckas at abbys@mofga.org or 568-4142.


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