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Friday, September 23
11:00 a.m. on The Common

Mort Mather
We’ve Come a Long Way

When Mort Mather was president of MOFGA the agricultural community looked on us as hippy-weirdo-freaks. Today, MOFGA and its organic farm members are leaders in Maine's agricultural landscape. Mort will take us back in time with stories of the early years of MOFGA and the Common Ground Country Fair when the first Harry S. Truman Manure Pitching Contest, in 1977, was a quadrathlon. And he will give some insight into how the first state organic organization in the United State came into being, and why it developed into the largest in the nation.

Mort was MOFGA’s third president and served two more terms in the early years. He was among the first farmers in Maine to be certified organic and was the first to sell organic vegetables to the first natural food coop in Portland. He currently grows an acre of organic vegetables for his son’s restaurant, Joshua’s, in Wells.

Between then and now he was Executive Director of Friends of Intelligent Land-use (FOIL) which opposed the building of an oil refinery in Sanford and founding president of Laudholm Trust with the mission of saving a 250 acre farm on the coast in Wells. It is now the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve. He then founded the Ogunquit Playhouse Foundation and was successful in saving the playhouse from development. He was hired by Coastal Enterprises Inc. to develop Farms for the Future, a grant program for farmers to improve their viability. And in 2004 he, his wife Barbara and their son Joshua opened Joshua’s Restaurant & Bar in Wells for which he supplies a lion’s share of the vegetables.

Saturday, September 24
11:00 a.m. on The Common

Russell Libby
Putting the Pieces Together - Our Next Food System

Organic farmers, fishermen, seed companies, natural food stores, chefs and many thousands of families across Maine are creating a new approach to food every day. It’s not a moment too soon.  Climate change, peak oil, and big economic transformations are upon us. What can we do, together, to build an abundant food system?

MOFGA's Executive Director, Russell planted his first garden after getting free seeds at the end of fourth grade. His involvement with MOFGA started at the first Common Ground Country Fair in 1977 where he saw a connection between local, organic food and a strong Maine economy. He began participating in the Consortium for Maine Food Self-Reliance in 1979, and joined the MOFGA Board of Directors in 1983. After a dozen years on the Board, including two years as President, Russell became Executive Director in 1995.

He has led MOFGA's growth over the past decade as the organization moved to the new Common Ground Education Center in Unity, expanded the Agricultural Services and Education programs, and created a subsidiary to run the Certification program. Russell has a wide range of agricultural affiliations, including 10 years as Research Director at the Maine Department of Agriculture.

He currently serves on the boards of: the Agricultural Council of Maine; the University of Maine Board of Agriculture; Maine Farmland Trust; Eat Local Foods Coalition; National Organic Coalition; and FEDCO Seeds. He has a degree in economics from Bowdoin College and a Master's in resource economics from the University of Maine. With his wife, Mary Anne, and 3 daughters, he operates Three Sisters Farm (a small diversified farm) in Mount Vernon where he has served on the School Board, the Comprehensive Plan Committee, and as a Selectman. He also writes poetry in his spare time. His first book, Balance: A Late Pastoral, was published in 2007.

Sunday, September 25
11:00 a.m. on The Common

Barbara Damrosch
It’s a Cute Little Movement, But Can It Feed the World?

It always did in the past, and it’s the only thing that will in the future. Of course it’s a little more complicated than that. And it certainly hasn't been an easy path.

Chair of MOFGA's Board, Barbara Damrosch is a widely published garden writer, lecturer and consultant, and author of The Garden Primer. For the past eight years she has written a weekly column in The Washington Post called A Cook’s Garden. She worked as a TV host for the PBS show The Victory Garden and co-hosted the Gardening Naturally series on The Learning Channel with her husband Eliot Coleman. She and Eliot grow and sell vegetables and eggs year-round in Harborside, Maine.

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