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 from El Salvador. The MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee brought a group of organizers and farmers from El Salvador to Maine. MOFGA has an ongoing relationship with two organizations in El Salvador. They’re doing the same kind of work that we’re doing. It reminds us that organic is more than just Maine. It’s an important international activity, and we like to support small farmers around the world. Russ Libby, my wife Karen, and I had this kind of formula. We said we wanted to eat 80% of food that was grown locally, organically by our friends. The other 20% we would like to buy from small farmers who were doing the same thing that we’re doing around the world – so that we could get our chocolate and coffee fixes. It could be satisfying that way. A lot of times when I think back over the years of the Common Ground Country Fair, I think of the disasters – Hurricane Hugo and the year we had four inches of rain overnight. We spent that Saturday morning filling holes and pumping ponds where there were supposed to be roads, but the Fair still opened – though a little bit late. Those are not the real highlights. They stick in your head because you really had to work hard to make it happen, but the real highlights are what happens right on the fairgrounds and year-round at MOFGA.