by Amanda Beal, MOFGA President
Several years ago while working as the store manager at Royal River Natural Foods, and maintaining a private practice as an herbalist in Freeport, I received a phone call from then MOFGA President Sharon Tisher asking if I would join the MOFGA board. I was thrilled to accept the invitation. Each year since, I have found myself wanting to give more of my time and energy to this wonderful organization. As I begin my term as president of MOFGA, I feel especially honored and look forward to working with an incredibly talented group of board members, committee members, staff and volunteers who care deeply about MOFGA and the future of agriculture in Maine and beyond.
My own appreciation for farming began not long after MOFGA was created. In 1975, my dad, who happens to be an organic dairy farmer, bought his farm in Litchfield, Maine. I have always considered him to be one of the hardest working people I have ever known, a trait I witnessed firsthand as I spent many hours growing up working alongside him in the barn. But when my brother, sister and I finished our chores and were set free to play in the fields and forest, my dad kept working. We grew up, moved away for school and other adventures, and finally came home again – and all the while my dad kept working those long days on the farm with no vacations or even sick days. I’ve lost count of the number of times he has told me over the years that there is nothing else he would rather do than farm. Because of my father’s dedication to farming, I’ve grown up to believe that our farmers and food producers are some of the most under-recognized heroes in our society. Truly, where would we all be without them?
All these years that my dad has been farming, MOFGA has been working to support farmers like him, ensuring that there is a viable market to support our food producers. MOFGA has accomplished so much in the past few decades, but as we certify more organic farms each year, and the markets for the products our farmers produce continue to grow – through new retail outlets, growing interest in farm-to-school programs, and shifts in other institutional food buying practices – it is clear that MOFGA must continue to grow as well.
As MOFGA president, I look forward to supporting that growth by carrying on the notable work of John Bunker, and other past presidents, to ensure that MOFGA has all the resources it needs to continue promoting and building a strong, sustainable, local and organic-based food system.