Volunteer Profile

Mark Guzzi is an intense organic grower, dedicated MOFGA Board member and all-around cheerful guy. English photo.

By Marada Cook

As the old saying goes, “Enthusiasm is the leavening of success.” Luckily, Mark Guzzi possesses it by the spadeful. Though the energetic 28-year-old grew up outside of Boston, both his perspective and his way of life changed after two years at Sterling College in Vermont, several farm apprenticeships, and finally coming to Maine as a student at the University of Maine at Orono.

As a Sustainable Agriculture student at UMO, Mark was eagerly involved with Roger’s Farm and the Black Bear Food Guild, both of which are part of the University ‘s gardening projects. Farm manager Joe Cannon says, “Mark was an exceptional student. He works well with others and is always willing to discuss problems and how to solve them.”

Two of Mark’s former classmates, Beth Haines and Szilvia Dirmuz, are now his business partners and can attest to this fact. The trio of cooperative young farmers teamed up to work Peacemeal Farm in Dixmont; they are now going into their third season. “Mark is 100% focused on growing great vegetables,” says Beth. Peacemeal Farm grows about 10 acres of mixed vegetables and cover crops in rotation, and each of the farmers takes on responsibility for a separate farmer’s market throughout the summer.

Joe Cannon describes Mark by saying, “Mark stood out from the other students on the farm. He cares very deeply about what he’s doing and would really like to make a difference. I think he’s going to be an outstanding farmer.”

Mark’s buoyant enthusiasm is tempered by a fair amount of practicality. “There’s more to this than just putting seed in the ground and watching it grow.” He outlines his view on farming, and attributes success to careful planning and strategy. “Think about what your options are and plan to get the most from each venture. Have alternatives in mind. Make gradual yet continual increases and improvements. Have a budget for the farm, and pay yourself for farming. Set goals, but avoid over inflating them – make them attainable.” Mark’s creed is simple, yet encompasses more than just the working farmer: “You’ve got to love what you’re doing; success comes from hard work and a good attitude.”

Guzzi enjoys the company of his dog and a bite of organic produce.

Mark’s first contact with MOFGA was his participation at the Common Ground Fair in the early ’90s. His belief in MOFGA’s mission grew along with his love of agriculture. A year ago Mark was nominated to the Board of Directors, where he feels his presence represents the members of the vegetable growing community. “I try to attend all of the MOFGA meetings and events. I volunteer at the Fair as a gatekeeper and participate in the Common Ground Farmer’s Market.”

Joe Cannon adds, “Mark keeps up to date on all the current issues surrounding small farms and organic growing. He knows where he is headed and he’s very intelligent. If Mark doesn’t know the answer to the question you ask, he won’t give it up until he’s found the answer.”

“Mark is wholly and entirely dedicated to the job at hand,” says Beth, “and enthusiasm he has got!”

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