Ron Poitras

Ron Poitras motivating farm worker: Yes, Maisie, you need to help with the weeding! Photo courtesy of Ron Poitras 

Here’s a memory from Ron Poitras:

“MOFGA has been a presence in my life for almost 50 years. As a homesteader in Wayne, Maine, beginning in the early 70’s, advice and camaraderie were important to me as I started out on a steep, wooded and very rocky piece of land. At the time, my paid work was for the State Planning Office and there I learned my way around the grant writing process. In those early days Chaitanya York was the most visible face of the MOFGA organization. He traveled around and spoke to different chapters and organizations with most of the MOFGA files in his backseat. Always gregarious and a spark plug for local agriculture in Maine, it was clear from the beginning that he had uncovered a need and considerable interest in creating a more stable, viable, and state-wide presence for MOFGA.

In 1975, I and a team of compatriots, including Chaitanya, Tym Nason and Albie Barden, found interest in what we were doing from Boston-based Kendall Foundation, and a $3,000 seed grant was obtained to scope out the possibilities for MOFGA’s growth. Six months later we wrote a more detailed proposal and obtained an additional three-year grant of $130,000. The funds were to be used to support workshops, conferences, the MOFGA newspaper and an office that was to be located in Hallowell. The proposal also outlined the process for initiating a nonprofit business that would make available organic farming and gardening goods and home-based alternative energy products, as well as provide a lending library of books and materials of interest to MOFGA members and supporters. Initially, the business was also to help provide an ongoing source of funds, in addition to what was obtained from membership in the organization. A lovely, old, brick building on the Main Street in downtown Hallowell was leased that provided space for MOFGA’s offices on the second floor and a storefront called Northeast Carry, the business specializing in solar, wood heat, farming supplies and other small-scale technologies, on the first floor.

The bridge between profit and nonprofit was a bridge too hard to cross, with too many owners and not enough members, and in 1980 Northeast Carry was sold to a plumbing/heating contractor. By then MOFGA was solidly on its feet with the Common Ground Country Fair, a state-wide identity, strong membership and several active chapters throughout Maine.”

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