MOFGA is pleased to announce the keynote speaker lineup for the 2023 Common Ground Country Fair. Each day of the Fair, keynote speeches are presented from 11 a.m. to noon on the common.
First up, on Friday, September 22, is Ryan Parker, farmer, writer, and FoodCorps Impact and Partnerships Lead, Maine. Parker’s keynote “Kids Learn Best When They Learn by Doing — Experiential Learning for All Maine Students” will review the ambitious but vital goal FoodCorps has set that by 2030 every student in the nation, regardless of race, zip code or socio-economic status, will have access to universally free nutritious meals and food education. This year, thanks to FoodCorps and its partners, Maine is poised to pass legislation that will give every school district in the state the opportunity to create school gardens and food teaching positions.
On Saturday, September 23, Chief Clarissa Sabattis, Tribal Chief of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians will present “Wabanaki Food Sovereignty and Community Health.” Her keynote will discuss the importance of Wabanaki tribal and food sovereignty and its interconnectedness with community wellbeing. The Houlton Band of Maliseet already have community gardens and are growing raspberries and other crops and are looking to expand their food production and food processing infrastructure in order to create more access to healthy and traditional foods for their tribal community. Recent progress and challenges will also be discussed with actionable next steps on how we can support tribal self-determination and food security.
The final keynote of the Fair, held on Sunday, September 24, will be Jaclyn (Jac) Wypler, sociology Ph.D. and farmer mental health advocate with Cultivemos (also known as the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network Northeast). Wypler has worked in agriculture for over a decade — on farms, through nonprofits and in education. While receiving their doctorate in sociology, Wypler researched queer sustainable farmers. This work led them to become passionate about farmer stress, wellness and mental health. Wypler currently serves as the farmer mental health director with National Young Farmers Coalition, supporting Cultivemos, a network that focuses on structural root causes to farm stress, prioritizes communities disproportionately impacted and harmed by these root causes, and regrants funds to farmers and ag service providers to address needs in their communities. In their keynote, “Farmer Mental Health,” Wypler will address mental health, queerness, and their intersections in agricultural communities.