|Toki Oshima with her husband, John Pranio.
2016 Common Ground Country Fair Poster Unveiled!
A highlight during MOFGA day at the Maine Agricultural Trades Show in January was the unveiling of the 2016 Common Ground Country Fair poster. The poster features an arrangement of Rainbow Swiss chard leaves, a staple in many home gardens and at farmers’ markets. Artist Toki Oshima of North Whitefield created the design – a fitting celebratory image for the 40th annual Common Ground Country Fair, September 23, 24 and 25 this year.
Each year MOFGA invites Maine residents and MOFGA members (regardless of residence) to submit a design for our Common Ground Country Fair poster. The selected design is featured on the Fair poster, website, T-shirt and promotional literature. Plus the artist is featured in this newspaper and in a press release about the poster contest and selected design. In addition to these benefits, the winning artist receives $1,000. For complete guidelines, including technical specifications, eligibility requirements and timeline, please visit the Poster link on the Fair page at www.mofga.org or contact the MOFGA office at email@example.com or 207-568-4142.
Share Your Favorite Fair Memory
This year the Common Ground Country Fair turns 40! Do you have a favorite memory of the Fair? If so, help us celebrate: Send your memory (in 100 or fewer words) to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll fit as many of these as we can into our 40th Fair issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. Thanks!
Participation: Key to the Common Ground Country Fair
By Eli Berry
The Common Ground Country Fair is a celebration of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA). MOFGA began in 1971 in the kitchens and barns of small groups of people committed to the principle that the health and growth of our human community depend on the health of the planet and that each of us sits at the table, three times a day, making choices that matter.
The Fair began in 1977, launched as a kind of Whole Earth catalog come to life. Seed money in the form of a “right livelihood” grant from the Kendall Foundation gave our financially struggling organization the capital to begin. Expectations were that we might attract a couple of thousand people and maybe cover our costs. As it turned out we got close to 10,000, expanding MOFGA’s community and garnering recognition while catching us up financially to continue our work.
The Fair started at a time when many were making conscious choices about how to live more harmoniously with each other and the natural world, reconsidering not only the recklessness of the means but also the mindlessness of the ends of contemporary consumer culture, and accepting the fundamental responsibility of each individual to make informed choices. Yet it wasn’t apparent until that first Fair just how many of us were already part of that movement and how many more wanted to be. By creating and agreeing to new standards and guidelines, making a new social contract of a kind, the Fair became a shared public space where our mutual interdependence could be more realistically realized and its advantages plainly seen. And through the celebration of our common cause, our collective responsibility and our cumulative understanding, the Fair became a real manifestation of that better kind of world we all want; the kind of world MOFGA, its staff and its members work toward year round.
What drives the movement, feeds our confidence and affirms the honor of our work and mission is that abiding spirit of participation. Positive participation is real currency in our system. The Fair, since its inception, has inexorably improved member and public understanding of how individual behavior can positively affect economic, social and environmental conditions, particularly at the local level. It has proved that the solutions are to be found here, among us; that there is no “away” to throw a thing, or to be “from”; that we eat, drink and breathe ourselves into being every day. In short, we’re all in this together and each of us is part of the solution.
The Fair has now become its own small city, and the organic principles MOFGA helped create and clarify have become widely accepted as part of any sensible precautionary principle for the healthy future of both agriculture and humanity. The Fair Steering Committee is essentially the planning group for that small city; crafting guidelines, policies and budgetary recommendations for the board of directors. We help plan the use of our shared resources and space, serving as a sounding board for the thousands of visitors, volunteers and vendors who make the Fair happen. We cultivate and encourage the relationships within our organization’s many parts and between our organization and its many allies across the state and beyond. We meet on the second Thursday evening of each month and are always interested in seeing new faces and hearing from new people. Like all of MOFGA and most good things, the first step to becoming part of something bigger is stepping forward and participating.
MOFGA Accepting Applications for Exhibitors and Presenters for the 2016 Fair
Would you like to be a vendor, exhibitor or demonstrator at the 2016 Common Ground Country Fair? Do you know of a presenter, artisan or Maine enterprise that would be a good fit for Common Ground? The application process for vendors, exhibitors and speakers for the 2016 Fair is underway.
If you are interested in participating in the Fair as a vendor, exhibitor, demonstrator or speaker, but you are unsure of which area at the Fair is appropriate for you, call us for help, or review the area descriptions and guidelines posted on the Fair pages of www.mofga.org.
Start Planning for the Fair
Here are some things you can do now to start planning for the 2016 Common Ground Country Fair:
• Volunteer as an area coordinator to help manage a part of the Fair that resonates with you.
• Create a design for the 2017 Common Ground Country Fair poster design contest. Details on the Fair Poster page.
• Order seeds and start plants for your garden. Results could be entered in the Exhibition Hall displays or offered to the Common Kitchen to help feed volunteers during the Fair.
• Work with your local schools and teachers to plan a student field trip to Common Ground. It's never too early to ask, especially because the Fair comes right after the start of the school year. All student groups get into the Fair free on Friday, and we offer partial reimbursements for school group travel expenses.
• Organize a community bus trip to Common Ground. It’s a terrific way to help conserve resources while getting preferred parking near the Rose Gate!
• Tune your bicycle and body so that you can bicycle, partway or all the way, to the Fair. Each year nearly 600 cyclists pedal to the Fair.
Summer Fair Assistant Search
To help us with the seasonal wave of administrative work on the Fair, we hire a part-time seasonal assistant in the MOFGA office. The ideal candidate is available from early May through early October, is experienced working on events and with volunteers, and has a deep enthusiasm for the work of MOFGA, especially the Common Ground Country Fair. The successful candidate also possesses a high level of computer literacy, including proficiency with Macs, cloud-based software such as Google Docs, and experience working with a database, spreadsheets and web content management systems. If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about this position, please contact Fair director April Boucher at email@example.com or 207-568-4142 ext. 2772.