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"Perhaps the most radical thing you can do in our time is to start turning over the soil, loosening it up for the crops to settle in, and then stay home and tend them."
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MOFGA volunteer Josiah Orm Hansen
Josiah Orm Hansen

By Betsy Garrold

September 2017 – Folks of a certain age often say, "Oh, if only we had some young volunteers in this organization." MOFGA has always been lucky in that regard, and the organization is one of the main reasons the average age of farmers has fallen in Maine – the only state with that distinction. Josiah Orm Hansen is a great example of that youth involvement in MOFGA and in rural Maine communities.

Hansen, now in his late teens, has loved the Common Ground Country Fair since he started attending as a toddler. His aunt is one of the food vendors, and he has spent time tending her booth. One of his earliest memories of the Fair is the year he grew a large pumpkin and wheeled it to the Exhibition Hall in a baby carriage. He won a blue ribbon.

Last year he wanted to do more, so he helped with setup all week before the Fair. Then he helped with the Young Maine tent during the Fair and even got to be one of the judges for the food vendors. By the end of the week, he was asked to coordinate the Young Maine area. Although this sounds like a lot of work, he says he actually felt less busy than during the years he had been a vendor in the Youth Enterprise Zone.

As an area coordinator, Hansen became a member of the Fair Steering Committee, happily making the year-round commitment of time and energy that keeps the Fair organized and running smoothly.

He says he wants the Fair to continue to help young artists, crafters and farmers, "to see new faces at the Fair but keep the old ones." As the Fair grows, he is interested in keeping education at the forefront of its offerings.

Hansen and his siblings have been homeschooled for much of their educational lives, and he has participated in many community activities, but his real love is art. You can see his creations on his Instagram site (@the_artagonist), and on the day we chatted he showed me a notebook full of his work.

He has been involved with the Belfast, Maine, Game Loft programs and enjoys their enrichment activities. He also participates at the Game Loft site at Mount View High School in Thorndike, in its "Coming of Age in America" year-long historical role playing game.

Anna Libby, volunteer coordinator for MOFGA, says, "We're so happy Josiah decided to come lend a hand in the lead-up to the Fair this past year. He volunteered for countless shifts, and then stayed to help clean up, and then decided he would stay to join the Fair Steering Committee and become a coordinator! Everyone has enjoyed getting to know him and having his voice at the table."

Hansen’s energy and enthusiasm is infectious, and we can trust that he will lead the way for the next generation of volunteers who keep the Common Ground Country Fair one of the best events of the year in Maine.


    

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