|Exhibition Hall tables filled with harvested crops show the huge and diverse bounty that Maine farms and gardens can produce. Amy LeBlanc photo.
From the Fair Director
Back in 1976 when Chaitanya York persuaded, enlisted and inspired an entourage of MOFGA members and friends to put on the first Common Ground Country Fair, not all expected a strong turnout. Not that they thought the Fair wouldn’t be a success, but it opened many eyes when upward of 10,000 people made the trip to the Litchfield Fairgrounds for MOFGA’s inaugural celebration of rural living.
Today, Common Ground draws close to 60,000 people; MOFGA has more than 7,000 members; and with CSAs and farmers’ markets available throughout the state, the growth of Maine’s organic farm community is the real eye opener. In 2012 MOFGA certified 407 organic farms and food producers in Maine. Many of these farms and producers are represented at Common Ground – by ingredients in products served by food vendors or by their own booths in the Farmers’ Market, Agricultural Products Area or Maine Marketplace.
More than 650 Maine farms, artisans, businesses and organizations are represented at the Fair this year. And as the Fair schedule of events attests – with more than 760 talks, workshops, demonstrations and performances – these participants are generous with their time and talents.
At Common Ground you can learn how to calm a horse or sharpen a scythe. You can learn about the history of lavender, the benefits of fermented foods, or the versatility of draft animals. You can find a logger who works with oxen, get answers to your questions about crops and livestock, see how to insulate your home without using fiberglass. There are manure tosses, contradances, local bands and bean hole beans; weed dating (like speed dating, but while weeding) and fox walking (a slow, quiet, meditative way to walk); sheep dogs and milk goats; and food vendors serving squash pizza, roast beef sundaes, spiced juices and maple soda.
A remarkably rich and inspiring array of people and events gather here for three days.
Enjoy. Have a great Fair and bring it home with you.
– Jim Ahearne