"The act of putting into your mouth what the earth has grown is perhaps your most direct interaction with the earth."
- Frances Moore Lappé
MOF&G Cover Fall 2010


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Katie Webb
Katie Webb.
English photo.

MOFGA Member News
Farmers-in-Residence: Living at the Common Ground Fair

New Faces at MOFGA

Katie Webb is the new reviewer/inspector for MOFGA Certification Services, LLC, since our previous inspector, Gwyneth Harris, and her family bought a farm in Vermont and have moved there. Webb does livestock product reviews and inspects mostly dairies and maple producers for MCS. She grew up on her family's farm in Pittston, Maine, where she now raises and wildcrafts as much of her food as possible. (Wildcrafting, she says, is foraging – just picking what grows naturally by her house.)  “I try to eat some wild foods every day, because they are extremely nutrient dense,” says Webb. In her free time, Webb might be milking Jersey cows, tracking wild animals, digging up the lawn to plant something, or making something good to eat – basically following her two passions: real food and the Earth. Katie has a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and conservation biology from Middlebury College.

Emily Horton
Emily Horton. English photo.
Emily Horton, MOFGA’s summer assistant for the Common Ground Fair, hails from Montville, Maine, where her family ran one of the early MOFGA-certified organic farms. She is a recent graduate of Lesley University's Audubon Expedition Institute, where her dorm room consisted of sleeping under the stars in a tent, and her "classroom" roamed throughout the United States and Hawaii in an outfitted school bus. During those two years, she studied the social and environmental issues of the regions while practicing sustainable living and land stewardship. She lived in Sri Lanka for four months while volunteering for the European organization MondoChallenge. Last summer she spent two months in Costa Rica as the sustainability/farm intern for The School For Field Studies. Horton has been a long-time Fair attendee and volunteer and has pulled off a few events of her own, including a farm-to-table event in Massachusetts with her sister. She has worked at Chase's Farm in Freedom for the past several summers and will continue there part-time through this season.

MOFGA Member News

Could the Common Ground Fair be your marriage proposal ground? It was for Jennifer Albee of Jefferson, Maine, and her husband, Hans, who grew up at the Chewonki Foundation in Wiscasset. The couple met on the windjammer Angelique in Camden, then courted by exchanging letters and meeting occasionally – including at the Fair. Says Jennifer, “I have an ingrained image of Hans coming down the ‘food aisle’ with his favorite wool shirt on and ‘Sweet Annie’ coming out of his pack.” While camping at the Fair in 2006, “Hans handed me a book (handmade by a woman on Westport Island, Mermaid Bindery) – I opened it and inside he had tied a ring – he wrote a darling little note, dated September 22, 2006. He asked me to marry him, and I said, ‘OF COURSE!’” Hans and Jennifer now live in Brooks and work at ReVision Energy in Liberty, and Hans is active in MOFGA’s Low Impact Forestry group. If you have a moving or romantic story about the Fair or MOFGA, please send it to jenglish@tidewater.net and we’ll try to get it in The MOF&G.

Congratulations to Carly DelSignore and Tide Mill Farm for winning the 2010 Jim Cook Memorial Award from Food for Maine’s Future. DelSignore's enthusiastic supporters noted her commitment to improving access to fresh, local food throughout Washington County and around Maine. She was also recognized as one of the co-founders of Maine's Own Organic (MOO) Milk.

And congratulations to the Common Ground Country Fair, which was recently recognized as an Ashoka Changemaker. Green Mountain Coffee and Ashoka Changemakers created the Revelation to Action Competition to highlight innovation, social impact and sustainability in businesses and organizations in the Northeast. From more than 320 nominees, Common Ground was one of 15 finalists selected by judges including author Bill McKibben. One winner was chosen from the New England-New York area, and three winners were chosen by online votes. Common Ground was selected as the Maine winner.

One judge said, “[The Fair] not only raises awareness for organic farming, but it has also raised the platform for rising businesses – I found this impact extremely compelling.”

Another said, “[Common Ground] is a really important and terrific event! We spend a lot of time discussing how initiatives can maintain continued sustainability and it seems as though this one has already created a lot of change. I think that this is just the kind of thing that we should be supporting as hard as we can.”

Best of luck to Lisa Hawkins, long-time coordinator of the Common Ground Fair Energy and Shelter Area, who is moving to western Massachusetts to be closer to her family. Hawkins, in her quiet, efficient and gracious manner, started volunteering in the MOFGA office when the organization was headquartered in Augusta and continued after the move to Unity. We will miss her.

Our condolences to the families of MOFGA members and friends who died this spring:

Herb Williams of Waterville was a former MOFGA board member and founder of HerbKomp, a major compost supplier to many Maine farmers over the past decade. He helped MOFGA by composting the Fair “waste” for many years, both on site and at his facility in Clinton, and returned hundreds of yards of material that has been used at the Common Ground Education Center.

Cyrene Slegona, with her husband Frank, grew all the fruits and vegetables the family needed on their 93-acre farm in Lincolnville, where she canned 300 jars of produce each year on a wood cookstove. She was active in the Coastal Knox MOFGA Chapter from its inception. The Slegonas – back-to-the-landers back in the ‘50s – were featured in the Dec. 2001-Feb. 2002 issue of The MOF&G.

Richard “Dick” Wood, a long-time dairy farmer, was well known for his Jersey cows. He coordinated the Agricultural Viability Program at the Maine Department of Agriculture and was an organic dairy inspector.


Farmers-in-Residence: Living at the Common Ground Fair

By Holli Cederholm
Holli Cedarholm and Brian St. Laurent
MOFGA's farmers in residence, Holli Cederholm and Brian St. Laurent, will lead tours of their farmstead and plantings on MOFGA's grounds during the Common Ground Fair. English photo.

Each September the Common Ground Country Fair attracts thousands of people to MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center – which happens to be my current backyard. As MOFGA’s farmers-in-residence, my partner Brian and I are beholden to the unique experience of sharing our farm site with three days of fairgoers, and several weeks of volunteers, right in the middle of the heavy harvest season.

Such an experience probably seems like a nightmare to most fledging farmers, but we feel differently. We share an interest in using our future farm as a venue for education and outreach. I doubt there is a better time to hone our teaching capabilities and interests than by experiencing the Fair, and the potential audience it boasts, so intimately.

Each day of the Fair, from 11a.m. until noon, Brian and I will offer a tour of the MOFGA farmstead. The scope of the tour will be dictated very much by participants’ interests.

The fields will showcase open-pollinated vegetables, including many varieties I’d neither seen nor tasted before growing them here firsthand. The field tour will also highlight fall cover crops, basic season extension using a moveable greenhouse, and alley cropping within an orchard.

Other points of interest include infrastructure added by past farmers-in-residence, such as a wood-fired earth oven and home-built walk-in cooler; and features of the ecologically designed farmhouse, such as the root cellar and wood cook stove that preheats water.

During the long weekend, several Maine farmers will also demonstrate draft-powered equipment in the field plots surrounding the farmhouse. These farmers coordinate with the farmers-in-residence each year to ensure fields will be ready for a breadth of demonstrations using their teams – from hitching and harrowing to loading green chop and planting a cover crop, all noted in the Fair schedule.

Along with hosting a daily tour and experiencing the integration of draft power into our farm plan, Brian and I will tend our booth in the Farmers’ Market on Friday and Saturday. Our vegetables and herbs, grown exclusively from open-pollinated seed, include a wide range of heirloom varieties from around the world. We hope our market display offers more than just a place to stock up on produce, as it affords an opportunity for us to exchange information on food storage, cooking, farming and more.



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