Friday, September 23
11:00 a.m. on The Common
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
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
It’s a Cute Little Movement, But Can It Feed the World?
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.
Join Us On The Common Each Day For Our Keynote Address
Friday, September 24 - 11:00 a.m.
Kerry Hardy, author of Notes on a Lost Flute
Address Title: In Search of the Dawnland Diet
In our era, most of the food eaten in Maine comes from out of state. But it was only a few hundred years ago that everyone here was on the "Hundred-Mile Diet." It is still possible to live and nourish our selves this way and in his talk, Hardy takes both a look backward at what folks ate before Contact, as well as a look forward at how modern Mainers can use this knowledge to move towards food self-sufficiency.
Saturday, September 25 - 11:00 a.m.
Woody Tasch, Founder of the Slow Money Alliance
Address Title: Slow Money: Investing Because Food, Farms and Fertility Matter
Slow Money is a 501(c)(3), formed in 2008 to catalyze the flow of investment capital to small food enterprises and promote new principles of fiduciary responsibility that support sustainable agriculture and the emergence of a restorative economy. By building local and national networks, Slow Money creates investment in small food enterprises and local food systems; connects investors to their local economies; and is building the nurture capital industry.
Sunday, September 26
Jim Gerritsen of Wood Prairie Farm in Bridgewater, ME
Address Title: Observations from Thirty-five Years of Watching the Maine Organic Community Grow
Jim and his wife, Megan, have owned and operated Wood Prairie Farm in northern Maine for thirty-five years, a MOFGA-certified organic farm since 1982 that focuses on the production of organic early generation Maine Certified Seed Potatoes, seed crops, vegetables and grain. Their seed potatoes are sold retail through their mail order catalog and web business www.woodprairie.com.
Join us each day on The Common at 11 a.m., and at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, for keynote speakers.
Friday, September 25th
Sprout: The Story and Impact of One School Garden.
A junior at Monument High School in Great Barrington, Mass, Sam Levin is one of three co-founders of Project Sprout, an organic, student-run 12,000 square foot garden on the grounds of his school. Now in its third year, Project Sprout supplies the school’s cafeteria with fresh fruits and vegetables, helps feed the hungry in the community and serves as a living laboratory for students of the Monument school system. Sam's story is remarkable portrait of vision and persistence. Inspired by Alice Water's The Edible Schoolyard, Sam and his peers set to work to transform their own community's relationship to the land and their food. “The plan was simple,” Sam told the those gathered at Slow Food's Terra Madre gathering last Fall. “Create a student-run organic vegetable garden on school grounds that would be used as an educational tool for students ages 3 through 18; provide delicious vegetables for school lunches; and ultimately build connections with nature for the children of our district.”
Saturday, September 26th
Who Invited these Chemicals to Dinner and How can we get rid of them?
Will grew up on a small farm in southern California and served in the Marine Corps between the Korean and Vietnam wars. He received a PhD in Anthropology (focused on Peruvian tropical forest agriculture) and taught at U-Ill and UC-Santa Barbara before being fired and jailed for a year for civil rights and anti-war activism. He returned to farming and farm labor full-time in 1972 and has been farming organically ever since, in Oregon, California, and Vermont, where he now co-manages Cedar Circle Farm in Thetford. He founded the Sustainable Cotton Project and is a board member of the Organic Consumers Association, Rural Vermont, and is a co-chair of Farms Not Arms. Will’s first book, The War on Bugs, reveals how advertisers, editors, scientists, large scale farmers, and government agencies colluded to convince farmers to use deadly chemicals, hormones, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in an effort to pad their wallets and control the American farm enterprise. Echoing the warnings of seminal works on the topic like The Jungle by Upton Sinclair and Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, The War on Bugs shouts that the time to stop poisoning our food, water, air, and ourselves is now!
Sunday, September 27th
Feeding the People
One of the region’s most entertaining and successful young farmers, Mark Guzzi will share his experiences growing and direct marketing produce through farmers’ markets. He’s been doing that since 1993, when he started working on farms.
A former MOFGA apprentice and a 2000 graduate of the University of Maine Sustainable Agriculture program, Guzzi now owns Peacemeal Farm in Dixmont, one of the area’s oldest organic farms, which he bought from farm co-founder Ariel Wilcox in 2003. Along with his wife, Marcia Ferry, and their crew, he grows 10 acres of MOFGA-certified organic vegetables, which they sell at six markets a week—in Orono, Camden, Belfast and Waterville. They also have a booth every year in the Farmers’ Market at the Common Ground Fair. An avid believer in the value of diverse and successful farmers’ markets, Guzzi chairs the Orono market, where he’s been a member since 1997.
Lynn Miller of Small Farmer's Journal
Small Farm Conservancy
Lynn R. Miller is one of the country's foremost experts on small farms. A multi-faceted speaker, author, storyteller, artist, teacher, and farmer, his efforts to champion the causes, and advocate the support, of the small independent family-based farms and ranches of North America have made a significant difference. As the originator(1976)/owner/publisher/editor of The Small Farmer's Journal, he offers to over 40,000 subscribers around the world a powerful tool for self-sufficiency, sustainability and community.
Miller earned Bachelor and Masters degrees in Art and Special Education from the San Francisco Art Institute and The University of Oregon. He has been farming since 1970 and working with draft horses since 1973. In 1976 he conceived of and started The Small Farmer’s Journal, an international farm quarterly. To this day he functions as editor/publisher.
Miller has authored (and sometimes illustrated) over 12 books on various topics related to animal power and alternative agriculture, including; The Small Farm Dream is Possible, Why Farm, The Workhorse Handbook, Buying a Farm, Work Horses Today, Training Workhorses, Thought Small, Ten Acres Enough, Horsedrawn Plows & Plowing, Haying with Horses and more. He has conducted workshops and lectured extensively throughout the United States and Canada. He continues with research and development in agriculture alternatives. He is currently farming a mixed crop/livestock, high-desert, horse-powered, family ranch raising Belgian Draft Horses, commercial beef cattle, free range poultry, potatoes, hay, grain, while working to dovetail operations into an ever more beneficial symbiotic relationship with the fragile surrounding wildlife habitat.
When recently asked to identify the ecologyissues he is most concerned with this was his answer:
"The two greatest environmental challenges today are related. They are poverty and the decay of community. Addressing these two issues goes to the core of small farm, organic, land reform, and ecology concerns." L.R. Miller
Keynote Speakers Confirmed For This Year's Fair
Each day of the Common Ground Country Fair, MOFGA presents a keynote speaker at 11 a.m. in the Common. Friday features a MOFGA grower, while Saturday and Sunday feature others working in food, agriculture and the environment. This year MOFGA welcomes John Bunker, Jeffrey Smith and Gary Paul Nabhan.
John Bunker – Long-time MOFGA board member; creator of the Maine Heritage Orchard at MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center; Fedco Trees coordinator; and author of Not Far from the Tree: A Brief History of the Apples and the Orchards of Palermo, Maine, 1804-2004. John was recently the subject of a feature article in May issue of The Atlantic magazine titled, “Beyond the Macintosh” – a terrific snapshot of our own “apple whisperer.”
Jeffrey Smith – International spokesperson on the health dangers of genetically modified organisms; author of the international best seller, Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies about the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You’re Eating and more recently, Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods; director of the Campaign for Healthier Eating in America from the Institute for Responsible Technology, where he is executive director; producer of the docu-video series The GMO Trilogy; and internationally syndicated columnist of "Spilling the Beans."
|Gary Paul Nabhan
Gary Paul Nabhan – Writer, lecturer, ethnobotanist and world-renowned conservation scientist, co-founder of Native Seeds/SEARCH and a leading voice for conserving and renovating native plant agriculture in the Americas.
Over three decades, Nabhan has worked with more than a dozen indigenous communities on cross-cultural initiatives to revive indigenous foods to prevent diabetes, to restore ancient agricultural landscapes and to honor traditional knowledge.
For this work and his related writings, he has received a MacArthur Fellowship (the “genius award”); a lifetime achievement award from the Society of Conservation Biology and a Lannan Literary Fellowship. He is author of 20 books including Coming Home to Eat and, most recently, editor of Renewing America's Food Traditions – Saving and Savoring the Continent's Most Endangered Foods (Chelsea Green Publishing).
Join us each day on The Common at 11 a.m. to hear our keynote speakers -- people who are thinking deeply about the world and what we might do to make it better.
Friday, September 21st
The Importance of Pickles, or Why I Put Up With Teenagers Working In My Greenhouse
Amy LeBlanc, of Whitehill Farm in East Wilton, grows hundreds of varieties of heirloom tomatoes to sell as seedlings and for fruit. She'll share her experience as a small farmer who passes her knowledge and work ethic (and pickle recipe!) on to young helpers each year. LeBlanc is an active member of the Fair Steering Committee and a co-coordinator of the Exhibition Hall at the Fair. She also has participated in the past two international IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements) conferences, and she's been thinking hard about how the Common Ground Country Fair and MOFGA can be forces for change both here and beyond.
Saturday, September 22nd
Representative Hannah Pingree
Toxic Materials in the Environment - What We Can Do About Them
Hannah Pingree, of North Haven, is the Majority Leader of the Maine House of Representatives. A second-generation MOFGA member (her mom, Chellie, organized MOFGA's apprenticeship program), Pingree is a leader on issues dealing with toxic materials in the environment. She was the prime sponsor of this year's successful legislation to phase out the brominated flame retardant "deca." Pingree is one of the 13 Maine citizens who were tested for toxic materials in their bodies by the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine. She will talk about the lessons we can learn from the study and the changes we need to make to get toxics out of the environment and out of our food system.
Sunday, September 23rd
Parallels Among Organic Farming and Community Based Fisheries
Ted Ames is working to recreate community-based fisheries, starting with programs directed at lobster and cod at the Penobscot East Resource Center in Stonington. He has been a commercial fisherman and high school teacher, and he's done great work using oral histories to develop scientific models of where the old cod spawning grounds were in Penobscot Bay.
"Community-based fisheries can be considered the ocean version of the local food movement on land," says Ames. "Those fishermen and communities who are recognizing the need for limits to scale and the importance of ecosystem balance through community-based resource management are often considered as far out of the mainstream as organic farming was when it started. Fishing and agriculture have lots to learn from each other, about self-management and about food distribution and marketing."
(These speeches were recorderd and can be listened to here.)
Friday: Long-Time MOFGA Farmer on the Goodness of Local Food
For 28 years, the highly diversified Darthia Farm in Gouldsboro has been MOFGA-certified, and during that time owners Bill and Cynthia Thayer have trained dozens of MOFGA apprentices. The Thayers are well-known figures at the Common Ground Country Fair, as well, where Bill gives horse-drawn wagon rides and Cynthia spends the weekend with the Wednesday Spinners, demonstrating her skill at spinning, dyeing and other fiber arts. Curl up with a good novel, and it might be one Cynthia wrote—such as Strong for Potatoes. Check MOFGA’s history, and you’ll find Cynthia listed as a former board member.
Cynthia Thayer will be the keynote farmer-speaker at the 2006 Common Ground Country Fair on Friday, Sept. 22. She will talk about eating locally grown food in season. “We haven't bought vegetables in 30 years,” Thayer told The MOF&G, “and have a wide variety of food available to us. The trend to have anything you want available any time you want it relies very heavily on petroleum-based products for shipping.”
Tired of petro-rations? Come hear Thayer talk about another way to eat, a better way—for the earth and for your palate.
Saturday: Exciting Alternatives to Hazardous Technologies
Our Saturday speaker will be Ken Geiser, Director of the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell. He will talk about viable and clean alternatives to hazardous industrial technologies, exciting initiatives that are taking place around the world to promote these alternatives, and efforts to phase out the long-lived toxic chemicals that accumulate in the food web and in our bodies. Geiser is the author of Materials Matter: Toward a Sustainable Materials Policy, which explains the economic, ecological and health benefits of using clean materials from the beginning of any industrial production process. Geiser serves on the Board of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, which coordinates the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine. He is a long-time MOFGA member and fairgoer as well! After the Keynote Address on Saturday, Geiser will participate in the Public Policy Teach-in in the Youth Enterprise Zone tent.
Sunday: First Lady Karen Baldacci Connects Maine Foods and Maine People
On Sunday, Maine’s First Lady Karen Baldacci will talk to fairgoers about her interests in organic farming and gardening, local foods, and the work she is doing to promote effective nutrition programs for the people of Maine. An educator and nutritionist, Mrs. Baldacci describes herself as an avid gardener and supporter of local farmers. Maine's new Commissioner of Agriculture, Seth Bradstreet, said of her, "She understands that profitable farms are the cornerstones for building healthy and vibrant rural communities, [and that] the key to improving the nutritional health of our citizens, and to achieving healthy rural communities, is to support local
agriculture by purchasing locally-grown food."
The First Lady films an educational series called Focus on the Farm, which airs on Adelphia channel 9. The monthly series highlights Maine foods from Maine farms and connects the people of Maine with their rich agricultural heritage.
The Baldacci family has prioritized the restoration of the many gardens surrounding the Blaine House in Augusta. They enjoy the rewards of a kitchen garden and a Victorian greenhouse, which provide fresh vegetables during an extended growing season. The Baldaccis' chef, Heather Hopkins, makes an effort to buy fresh, local foods whenever possible. Restoration of the Governor's Garden on the north side of the Blaine House is underway with the help of schools and universities, Master Gardeners, local garden clubs, the state of Maine, greenhouses, nurseries and private individuals.
Come to the keynote speech on Sunday to hear how Mrs. Baldacci's many farm-, garden- and nutrition-related initiatives are going.
Join us with your families and friends on the Common each day of the Fair at 11:00 to hear these wonderful speakers.