Feature Stories From The Archives​

Learn more about the MOFGA community and Common Ground Country Fair

livestock guardian dog

John Franson “Neighbors”

This story appeared in the 2021 summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener in response to the theme “Neighbors.” With the nearest house about a half mile away, most of our neighbors are wildlife. This has meant a high fence to protect the young orchard trees. The vulnerable farm animals like chickens and

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Farm field

Amanda Russell “Neighbors”

This story appeared in the 2021 summer issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener in response to the theme “Neighbors.” We are all neighbors, whether we live next door to each other or 5 miles away from each other. In my town, whether we know each other or not, we call each other neighbors:

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Kathryn Cody Russell

Kathryn Cody Russell Wins 2021 Common Ground Country Fair Poster Contest

By Holli Cederholm Through art, Kathryn Cody Russell of Limington, Maine, finds clarity under pressure: She started sketching her winning design, which reimagines MOFGA’s tree logo with the inclusion of fruits and vegetables significant to Maine agriculture, just days before the 2021 Common Ground Country Fair art contest deadline. “Art, for a very long time,

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Bread, cheese and microgreens

Maine Farmers Expand to Online Markets

By Catie Joyce-Bulay Last season the confusion and safety concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic brought on a need for farmers to pivot to new marketing strategies. They worked quickly to build no-contact sales and distribution systems, rapidly changing how they got product out to customers. Many farmers turned to the internet. Although many farms incorporated

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Person smelling soil

The Roots of Soil Health in Organic Farming

By Will Brinton One hears the phrase “soil health” so often these days it seems to be reaching a crescendo. Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) formed an entire Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) division for it. Around the same time, the Soil Health Institute (SHI) was formed, including sponsorship by USDA, agribusiness and

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Thalassa Raasch with two beehives

Building a Community of Honeybee Enablers One Hive at a Time

By Holli Cederholm On Thalassa Raasch’s outstretched palm is a rainbow of pollen – yellow, orange, gray, green and even bright blue – reflecting the colors of the early spring blooms that honeybees have collected the grains from. It is a sunny, 60-degree day in April and Raasch, clad in coveralls and a floral-print neckerchief

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Russell Libby

We’re in This Together: Words of Wisdom from Russell Libby

By Tim Nason Russell Libby wrote editorials for The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener during 1993 and 1994, when he served as MOFGA board president, and from 1996 to 2012 as MOFGA’s executive director. Most of the editorials targeted a specific topic, such as the use of persistent pesticides; the increase in toxins in our

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Will Bonsall and seed saving demo

MOFGA: Then and Now

By Will Bonsall MOFGA is celebrating its 50th year at a tumultuous time in our nation’s history. I am mindful that the organic movement was born out of tumultuous times. The year 1971 found us in a soul-wrenching war in Vietnam, a growth-thwarting oil crisis and a number of challenges to democratic institutions. So, what has

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Ken-Ro Farm

The Early Days of Organic Certification at MOFGA

By Tim King In 1972 Ken and Roberta Horn, who were farming 140 acres near Plymouth, Maine, became the first of thousands of farms to be certified organic by MOFGA over the next half century. There were 26 more certifications granted by MOFGA that year. The number nearly doubled, to 47, the following year. That

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Dr. Nate Petley photo at the Fair

Dr. Nate Petley “The Fair”

Friday morning setup at the Common Ground Fair is my most favorite part of the entire weekend. The sun is rising high enough in the sky to dry the last of the dew. Farmers are spreading out their harvest while vendors are adjusting their wares. The smell of food is wafting through the crisp air.

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Ilanna Greenfield photo with sweet Annie bundle

Ilanna Greenfield “The Fair”

Growing up in Maine with a potter for a mother meant that every year I attended the Common Ground Country Fair. Those were my favorite vending days. I’d get to explore the Fair for the weekend and watch my mother do some amazing trades with other artisans. I’d hop from booth to booth wishing I

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Lily Joslin photo at the fair

Lily Joslin “The Fair”

I learned to bake bread at the fair! I was the only non-affiliated volunteer with the Maine Grain Alliance the first year they started baking bread for the Common Kitchen. It was an amazing group of experienced home and professional bakers from all walks of life, who were so welcoming to a newbie like me

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Jennifer Albee and husband Hans black and white photo

Jennifer Albee “The Fair”

It was Friday, September 22, 2006 and my sweetheart Hans and I drove from Brooklin to Unity to camp out overnight in the south parking lot before heading into the fairgrounds the next morning. We were in our old Toyota Tacoma and had fitted the back with a small mattress and camp stove, and after

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Rose Gate at Common Ground Country Fair

Shlomit Auciello “The Fair”

This story appeared in the 2020-2021 winter issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener in response to the theme, “The Fair.” My favorite volunteer gig for the Fair is what I call “the Rose Gate Wrangler.” I got up very early: When the sheep bells started ringing really loud and the rooster started crowing,

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Chris Grigsby “The Fair”

This story appeared in the 2020-2021 winter issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener in response to the theme, “The Fair.” My wife and I built a straw bale home in 2007, and we met our builder at the Fair in the Energy and Shelter Area. That was a really great experience. We developed

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Dave Colson “The Fair”

This story appeared in the 2020-2021 winter issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener in response to the theme, “The Fair.” I’ve been farming in Maine since 1981. I actually moved back to the East Coast around that time and came to the 1981 Common Ground Fair, which was held in Windsor. It was

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Eli Berry “The Fair”

This story appeared in the 2020-2021 winter issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener in response to the theme, “The Fair.” The first time I went to the Fair was in ’79 or ’78. Mort Mather, who was a deeply involved member and founder of a lot of wonderful things at MOFGA, was running a station with an old carnival

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Common Ground Country Fair shirts

Sylvia Smith “The Fair”

This story appeared in the 2020-2021 winter issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener in response to the theme, “The Fair.” I love working with the people at MOFGA and at the Common Ground Fair. I got connected with the Common Ground Country Store as a volunteer. I received the T-shirts and kept track of that.

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Stephen Oliver with dog

Stephen Oliver “The Fair”

This story appeared in the 2020-2021 winter issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener in response to the theme, “The Fair.” The Common Ground Country Fair has become a yearly ritual for me, since I first participated in the Social & Political Action Area 10 years ago as a Peace Action Maine board member.

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Paul Volckhausen with sheep

Paul Volckhausen “The Fair”

This story appeared in the 2020-2021 winter issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener in response to the theme, “The Fair.” One of the highlights of my times at the Fair was in 2003 when I was lucky enough to be able to introduce Juvelina Palmer, who was a small farmer and community organizer

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Avery Yale Kamila “The Fair”

This story appeared in the 2020-2021 winter issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener in response to the theme, “The Fair.” My favorite memory of the Fair is not so much a specific incident but rather a feeling. It’s a rhythmic sense of contentment and connectedness that washes over me every time I attend

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Sara Trunzo “Breaking Ground”

This story appeared in the 2021 spring issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener in response to the theme, “Breaking Ground.” On March 3, 2020, an F3 tornado hit my neighborhood of Bells Bend, a farming community west of downtown Nashville. Uprooted cedars rode 150 mph winds across the bottomland, striking and killing cattle.

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Wendy Watson “Breaking Ground”

This story appeared in the 2021 spring issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener in response to the theme, “Breaking Ground.” My husband and I lived in Northern California for a decade starting in the mid-1980s. We were young, idealistic and longing for more community. Finding others who shared similar values of living lightly

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Jack Kertesz “Breaking Ground”

This story appeared in the 2021 spring issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener in response to the theme, “Breaking Ground.” In the earliest days of MOFGA in Unity, there was a landscape committee consisting of volunteers who sought to bring some tree life onto the barren, 35-acre main campus. Ernie Glabeau was the

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