Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Russell Libby Editorial – Winter 2004-2005

Publications \ The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener \ Winter 2004/2005 \ Libby Editorial

By Russell Libby, MOFGA Executive Director

I spent part of one fall afternoon bringing firewood from some of the piles scattered around the edges of our woodlot. I always have more piles to gather, but never quite enough stored to take us through the winter, so we always depend on our neighbors and the larger community to supply firewood so that we can make it through the winter. That dependence ties us to a wider circle.

As much as I’d like to have the time to spend in the woods, and the equipment to bring trees in from some of the farther reaches of our logging trails, right now the links are almost more important. When we purchase a few cords of firewood, we help one farmer’s cash flow during the winter, which helps support him into the next year.

Similarly, I spend a few days during the summer helping to hay on a dairy farm, and that haying time turns into our milk through the year, while we leave a dozen eggs every few weeks to keep the informal tally close to even.

In alternate years we work with a neighbor to do a big batch of maple syrup so that we both have most of the syrup that we need for the next couple of years.

Even though a plow truck might make sense, given our location, I like to know that when Marvin comes down the hill, he’ll plow us out, then our neighbor, and I can count on him to know where to put the snow and to help us make it through the winter.

Similar exchanges happen throughout the year: music, rides, food, meals, books. As much as we all enjoy the idea of self-sufficiency, mutual dependence is what a community is all about.

I’m writing pre-election, and regardless of the results, we’re going to keep spending our time and energy building that deep web of connections within the community we live in, and building the larger connections that make up our state. Over the past 20 years, we’ve found our way from one neighbor to the next, to the next road, to this larger world where we know people who can, and will, help when we need it.

For me, and I hope for you, MOFGA is one of those support networks that builds links and connections.

Now I know where to go to get oatmeal, or cheese, or find the person who can do a certain job. Over the year ahead, I hope you’ll all commit to finding one more connection that helps you step away from the industrial food system that seems to want to absorb everything in our life, day to day. I keep returning to a few lines from Lew Welch’s “Chicago Poem”:

You can’t fix it. You can’t make it go away.

I don’t know what you’re going to do about it,

But I know what I’m going to do about it. I’m just

going to walk away from it. Maybe

A small part of it will die if I’m not around

feeding it anymore.

We can’t just unhook, without having something to connect to as the alternative. For me, that alternative is all about building the deep connections that let us know our neighborhood because of our neighbors, our community because we share with one another. I look forward to working with you to create that local, organic alternative.
MOF&G Cover Winter 2004-2005
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