Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
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Meet Torie DeLisle – MOFGA's Membership and Development Director

Torie and August DeLisle. Photo by KJ Gormley

Torie and August DeLisle. Photo by KJ Gormley

June 2020

Torie DeLisle, MOFGA’s membership and development director, came to our organization from Skidompha Public Library in Damariscotta, where she was director of development. She and her husband, August (a MOFGA journeyperson and a 2018 recipient of a Russell Libby agricultural scholarship), own their 5-acre WoodHaus Farm on Duck Puddle Road in Waldoboro. Their diversified farm is dedicated to homesteading and heritage breeds, including Americana chickens, Navajo Churro sheep and Mangalitsa/Large Black pigs.

Q. Did you grow up and go to school (including college) in Maine? Did you have a farming background before you and August started WoodHaus?

A. I grew up moving around the country as a child, but moved to Maine with my family as a teenager. All of my mother’s family lives in Maine, and my mother was one of the early graduates of College of the Atlantic, so we spent summers and holidays here and I always thought of Maine as “home” even before we moved here full time. I lived on Swan’s Island throughout high school and spent summers as a sternman on a lobster boat. Then I went to Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, to study playwriting and set design.

Farming is something I have always been attracted to, especially going to the Common Ground Country Fair as a kid. My family kept sheep for a few years, but I had no real experience with farming before diving in myself.

Q. You lived in Portland for a while, where you were the engagement manager for tech firm Big Room Studios. What brought you to Portland originally? Why did you move to Damariscotta?

A. I’ve moved around a lot! Before Portland, Maine, I lived in Portland, Oregon, where I succeeded in not earning a living in theater and discovered that I had a knack for project management and working in the tech industry. I knew that I wanted to move home to Maine, so I actually hired Big Room Studios to work on a project that I was in charge of for a large corporation in 2012, and by the following year, the company had convinced me to come work for it. When I moved home to Maine, I also met my future husband, and we discovered we both had this crazy dream to open a restaurant. Damariscotta was his hometown, and together we opened Van Lloyd’s Bistro, got married and bought our first flock of chickens.

Q. In addition to helping start Van Lloyd’s Bistro (which you later sold), you worked for Skidompha Library, served for a term on the Damariscotta Region Chamber of Commerce board, and directed plays with The River Company community theater. It seems you are deeply involved in life in Damariscotta. How do you like living in a small Maine community?

A. I love it. I have traveled and lived many places, and there truly is no place like Maine. In our area, especially as farm owners, my husband and I feel involved and invested in our community and with our peers. We know that our contributions matter, and it’s a wonderful feeling to run into our friends and neighbors wherever we go.

Q. Taking on the MOFGA job at a time when our staff and programs have grown so much and so quickly seems huge. How do you manage it? How are we doing, development-wise?

A. It is certainly a challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. MOFGA is lucky to be an organization with a very strong, longstanding base of support. We’re also lucky that new farmers and foodies are moving to Maine and discovering all that MOFGA has to offer, and want to become members and supporters.

It’s still going to be a big job to grow our membership base over time, but I believe that our mission is one of the most compelling out there. What could be more critical than healthy, local food and supporting organic agriculture?

Q. Was MOFGA’s Bread and Brews festival your idea?

A. I wish I could take credit for Bread and Brews! It was actually Sarah Alexander’s idea, our executive director. I love working on big events like this, and it’s so amazing to see a festival come together and be enjoyed by so many people. Maybe it’s my background in theater. Bread and Brews is also special because it celebrates Maine agriculture and production, from grain to glass or from grain to loaf. While the 2020 event was canceled because of the COVID-19 situation, we hope next year to welcome back our beer vendors with even more special brews, and our partner, the Maine Grain Alliance, which will provide baking workshops and bread demos.

Q. We understand that your MOFGA family membership will take on new meaning soon. Do you want to say anything about that?

A. Yes it will! My husband and I are expecting the birth of our first child in early July. I plan to have him/her ready to work the Common Ground Country Fair by the end of September.

 

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