The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) will emphasize the need for political, economic and environmental action on global climate change at its upcoming Common Ground Country Fair in the town of Unity on September 23, 24 & 25.
MOFGA's annual celebration of rural living regularly offers hundreds of educational talks and workshops in the course of the Fair weekend, and this year will host several presentations, a panel discussion and a large-group photograph/rally to help the public understand the significance of global climate change and what it means for Maine agriculture.
"In Maine we are experiencing generally warmer fall weather and earlier springs, later first frosts and earlier last frosts," noted Beedy Parker, long-time MOFGA member and policy advocate. "This gives us a longer growing season, but not dependably. Often the weather is extreme, and it is the extremes of temperature and rain, flood, drought and storm intensity, their frequency and duration, that really matter for growers and other Maine producers in natural resource industries."
The Common Ground Country Fair is a wonderful source of global warming solutions that reduce CO2 emissions through energy efficiency in Maine homes and transportation options. Vendors in almost all areas of the Fair provide goods, services and information to help Maine people live more ecologically friendly lives and lower their carbon footprints. Each day of the Fair, there will be informative and inspiring talks on climate change, energy efficiency, and practical changes that we can make to address this real problem.
MOFGA's featured presentation on Climate Change will be this year's Public Policy Teach-in at 2:00 in the Spotlight Stage Tent. The Teach-in will address the overall effects of climate change, our state’s legislative and planning responses, the more specific effects on Maine agriculture and food production generally, and how communities can respond to build resilience into our lives as the climate continues to change. Panelists will include: Stephen Mulkey, PhD, president of Unity College, an ecologist, working in forest ecology and interdisciplinary environment and sustainability education development at the college and secondary level; Dylan Voorhees, Clean Energy and Global Warming Project Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine; John Jemison, PhD, University of Maine Trustee Professor for 2011, water quality and soils specialist, Cooperative Extension, focusing on sustainable food and agricultural systems; Andy Burt, community organizer and environmental justice consultant with Maine Partners for Cool Communities and the Eat Local Foods Coalition; and Lou McNally, longtime MPBN meteorologist, and former TV host of “Made in Maine”, Interdisciplinary Ph.D. from the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine, and Assistant Professor of Applied Meteorology at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. A question and answer period will follow short presentations by each panelist. Sharon Tisher, J.D., who teaches environmental law in the School of Economics, University of Maine, Orono, is a member of MOFGA’s Public Policy Committee and past President of the MOFGA Board of Directors, will moderate the panel discussion.
Following the Public Policy Teach-in, MOFGA and Transition Towns will host a rally on the Common. All fairgoers are invited to gather on the Common at 3:50 p.m. on Saturday, September 24th to be in a large-group photograph to support Moving Planet – a worldwide rally initiated by 350.org to demand solutions to the climate crisis, especially where governments are stalling on action despite the overwhelming reality of the climate crisis.
The photo will be a definitive moment generating awareness for climate change, but the full impact of the event will be additionally communicated through documentation and storytelling. The whole event and its lead up will be thoroughly documented by a team of young videographers from Unity College’s Documentary Film course led by Center of Environmental Arts and Humanities Director, Professor John Zavodny. Fine art photographer Lisa B. Martin will provide photographs of the event.
This project combines the power of the Common Ground Country Fair with local resources in social and digital media, grassroots organizing, and institutional partnerships with the goal of producing an event that is on track to be one of the largest 350.org public actions ever.
"This art action simply and powerfully makes a lasting visual, experiential, and educational connection between climate change awareness and solutions, local economy and agriculture, citizen-led education, next generation training, and community organizing," said Zavodny. "Imagine the powerful image of hundreds - maybe thousands - of Common Ground Country Fair attendees parading through the fair, forming the number 350, then raising their day’s purchases, or their empty hands, to the sky in celebration of the climate change solutions offered by limited consumption and support of local agriculture and economy.”
About MOFGA: The purpose of the Association is to help farmers and gardeners: grow organic food, fiber and other crops; protect the environment; recycle natural resources; increase local food production; support rural communities; and illuminate for consumers the connection between healthful food and environmentally sound farming practices.
Common Ground Country Fair is a celebration of rural living that promotes organically grown Maine produce, alternative lifestyles, and a common ground for a variety of organizations. It features demonstrations, Maine organic produced foods and crafts and livestock exhibits.
350.org is building a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. Its online campaigns, grassroots organizing and mass public actions are led from the bottom up by thousands of volunteer organizers in more than 188 countries. 350 means climate safety. To preserve our planet, scientists tell us we must reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from its current level of 392 parts per million to below 350 ppm. But 350 is more than a number – it symbolizes where we need to head as a planet.
Transition Towns consists of vibrant grassroots community initiatives that seek to build community resilience in the face of such challenges as peak oil, climate change and economic crisis. Transition Initiatives seek to mitigate these converging global crises by engaging their communities in homegrown, citizen-led education, action and multi-stakeholder planning to increase local self-reliance and resilience.
For more information, contact Fair Director Jim Ahearne at the MOFGA Office - 207-568-4142 - firstname.lastname@example.org.