2020 Fair Schedule & Keynotes

Fair Schedule

The 2020 Common Ground Country Fair will be presented as a Livestream over the weekend of the fair. The Livestream will be available on this website, on facebook, and on youtube. We hope that the audience will engage with our live presenters by asking questions via chat on those forums.
Take a look at the schedule below, and make a plan for tuning in to the Livestream September 25-27th.
Friday September 25, 2020
Sunday September 27, 2020
Saturday September 26, 2020


We’re thrilled to share the 2020 Common Ground Country Fair Keynote speakers! Each day the Fair will feature a keynote address at 11am.

Leah Penniman

Farming While Black: African Diasporic Wisdom for Farming and Food Justice

Barbara Damrosch

Power to the People: Drawing Strength from the Pandemic

Winona LaDuke

Relocalizing and Restoring Traditional Food Varieties: Building a Regional Indigenous and Local Food System

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Friday, September 25, 11 a.m.
Farming While Black: African Diasporic Wisdom for Farming and Food Justice
Leah Penniman (li/she/ya/elle)* is a Black Kreyol farmer, author, mother and food justice activist who has been tending the soil and organizing for an anti-racist food system for over 20 years. Author of “Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land,” she currently serves as founding co-executive director of Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, New York, a people-of-color-led project that works toward food and land justice.
Penniman will discuss how some of our most cherished sustainable farming practices, from organic agriculture to the farm cooperative and the CSA, have roots in African wisdom – yet discrimination and violence against African-American farmers have led to their decline from 14 percent of all growers in 1920 to less than 2 percent today, with a corresponding loss of over 14 million acres of land. Further, Black communities suffer disproportionately from illnesses related to lack of access to fresh food and healthy, natural ecosystems. Soul Fire Farm is committed to ending racism and injustice in our food system. Through programs such as the Black-Indigenous Farmers Immersion, a sliding-scale farmshare CSA, and Youth Food Justice leadership training, the farm is part of a global network of farmers working to increase farmland stewardship by people of color, restore Afro-Indigenous farming practices and end food apartheid. Learn how you too can be part of the movement for food sovereignty and help build a food system based on justice, dignity and abundance for all members of our community.
* Li – Haitian Kreyol all-gender pronoun with no possessive form
Ya – shortened name for Oya, the Yoruba spirit of transformation and storms; a mother who embodies many gender expressions as shown in some of Oya’s praise names – “the one who puts pants on to go to war” or “one who grows a beard to go to war.”
She/Ella – the one who makes seeds
He/Él – the one who makes pollen
Elle – all-gender pronoun in Spanish
Saturday, September 26, 11 a.m.
Power to the People: Drawing Strength from the Pandemic
Barbara Damrosch is a farmer and co-owner of Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine; author of “The Garden Primer” and “Theme Gardens” and co-author of “The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook”; and a past MOFGA president. She says, “It happened during World War I. It happened during World War II. It happens during depressions, recessions and any scary upheaval. And it happened almost overnight when the coronavirus hit: People were seized with the idea of growing their own food. Seed companies were swamped with orders. Local nurseries sold out of zucchini transplants in 10 minutes.”
Her talk will look at what farmers and gardeners have done to cope with a new threat of food scarcity, and how, in the end, this may turn out to be a good thing. “We’ve all had to be creative these days,” she says. “Being a farmer, I’ll talk about what our farm and others like it have done, but I’m especially interested in the challenges that home gardeners face. What if, instead of going back to the supermarket after the food fire drill is over (as usually happens), all of these gardeners kept right on growing and put the food system back, quite literally, into their own grubby, capable hands. What would that be like? How can we make that happen? It starts with a few ideas about how to make gardening easier and how to grow a lot from the plot you’ve got.”
Sunday, September 27, 11 a.m.
Relocalizing and Restoring Traditional Food Varieties: Building a Regional Indigenous and Local Food System
Winona LaDuke is a rural development economist and author working on issues of Indigenous economics, food, and energy policy. She lives and works on the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota and is the executive director of Honor the Earth. She cofounded Honor the Earth with the Indigo Girls as a platform to raise awareness of and money for Indigenous struggles for environmental justice. She works nationally and internationally on the issues of climate change, renewable energy and environmental justice alongside Indigenous communities. In her own community she founded the White Earth Land Recovery Project, one of the largest reservation-based nonprofit organizations in the country. Globally and nationally, LaDuke is known as a leader in the issues of cultural-based sustainable development strategies, renewable energy and sustainable food systems. She is a leader in the work of protecting Indigenous plants and heritage foods from patenting and genetic engineering.
LaDuke’s current project, Anishinaabe Agriculture, is working to relocalize a food economy, to restore traditional food varieties that can adapt in a time of climate change and to create a hemp economy. The project is building a regional Indigenous and local food system based on transitioning from fossil fuel economics and back to a restorative economy and farming system. Anishinaabe Agriculture focuses on Indigenous varieties of corn, beans, squash, potatoes, perennials, tobacco and hemp. Recognizing the instability of globalized food systems, the project is working to deepen its food work in the community and toward relocalizing a food economy.
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