Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Fair News – Fall 2013

Fair News Archive \ Fair News - Fall 2013

Message from the Fair Director
Public Policy Teach-In – Maine’s GMO Labeling Campaign – Where We Go from Here
Special Thanks to the Fair Steering Committee
Thank You to the Volunteers Who Coordinated the 2013 Fair
Keynote Speakers
   Sandor Katz
   Deb Soule
   George Siemon


Message from the Fair Director

Last year we had a guest at Common Ground from The New York Times who wrote of her experience at the Fair, "This felt like what has gone missing from America." At that particular moment she was commenting on the accordions and washboard of the Maine Squeeze momentarily drowning out John Bunker as he was holding court and identifying apples brought to him by fairgoers. But the writer's observation captures a lot about the Common Ground Country Fair.

The beauty of farming and food as a catalyst for celebration is that food is the intersection for innumerable facets of our lives – our health and nutrition, our family culture, the biodiversity and health of the environment, the resilience and integrity of our economy, and even, as it turns out, accordions and apples. Let go of an awareness of our food – its origins and stories en route to our tables – and so much goes missing: appreciation, gratitude, culture, discovery, celebration.

I like to think this awareness is in part why the Common Ground Country Fair is so vibrant. The exhibitors, presenters and fairgoers of Common Ground share a community of awareness around our farms and food. And from that connection springs this great celebration of Maine and organic.

Nourished by Maine's organic farmers and gardeners – particularly the 430-plus MOFGA certified organic farmers and food producers who have made a commitment to transparency in organic production – we have much to celebrate at Common Ground and year-round in Maine.

I hope you have a great time at the Fair. But more so, I hope it in some way affirms what you haven't let go missing.


– Jim Ahearne
Director, Common Ground Country Fair


Public Policy Teach-In
Maine’s GMO Labeling Campaign – Where We Go from Here

Saturday, Sept. 21, 2 to 3:30 p.m., Spotlight Stage

MOFGA is keeping Maine’s GMO (genetically modified organisms, or genetically engineered foods) labeling initiative moving forward, and we want everyone to know how to help ensure victory this coming January (when Governor LePage has promised to sign our bill into law). Please come to our Public Policy Teach-In on Saturday, Sept. 21, from 2 to 3:30 at the Spotlight Stage. A panel of speakers will include Rep. Lance Harvell (R-Farmington) and Sen. Chris Johnson (D - Lincoln County), lead sponsors of our bill; Jim Gerritsen, proprietor of Wood Prairie Farm in Bridgewater, president of Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, lead spokesperson in the class action suit against Monsanto, and invaluable, visionary activist in Maine’s GMO labeling campaign; Dr. Michael Hansen, senior staff scientist at Consumers Union and international policy expert on food safety and environmental health issues, including mad cow disease, genetic engineering and pesticide use. Logan Perkins, MOFGA’s GMO labeling campaign director, will moderate.


Special Thanks to the Fair Steering Committee

The Common Ground Country Fair is an extraordinary production of volunteer initiative and leadership. Guiding this endeavor is the Fair Steering Committee, an inspiring group of dedicated people who meet monthly – in winter when it snows, in spring when gardens demand attention, in summer when lazy days whisper distraction – and look at the big picture for the Fair and MOFGA, balancing many influences to keep the Fair true to its mission. This dedicated group deserves special acknowledgment. A humble thank-you from the Fair director and MOFGA staff for your thoughtful and tireless contributions: John Belding, Mary Belding, Eli Berry, Laurah Brown, Sam Brown, Vicky Burwell, Jeff Cotton, Patti Dowse, Anu Dudley, Rob Jones, Amy LeBlanc, Bryan McLellan, Penelope Olson, Ashley Richards, Nancy Rosalie, Rose Whitehead and Bill Whitman.


Thank You to the Volunteers Who Coordinated the 2013 Fair

Nearly every facet of the Fair is envisioned, designed, implemented and managed by volunteers. Working in small teams or as individuals, the Fair's area coordinators comprise the Planning Team – the individuals who bring Common Ground to life. With gratitude we thank these industrious and generous leaders.

5K Foot Race – Michael Bunker, Lindsay Spigel
Agricultural Demonstrations – Michial Russell
Agricultural Products – Ernie Glabau, Betsey Ann Golon
Agricultural Products Speakers – John Bunker Jr.
Antique Tractors – Glenn DeWitt
Auto Gate – Bethany Oprie, Robin Peskoe
Bean Hole Beans – Elliot Scott
Bee Dance – Beedy Parker
Bicycle Parking – Jim Bowers, Fred Robie
Blacksmith – John Phelan
Camping – Shlomit Auciello, Michelle DeLucia, Wesley Daniels, Chris Fabian, David Murray, Steve Plumb
Children's Area – Laurie Christensen, Dawn Nguyen, Cara Oleksyk, Janelle Portmann, Mary Ann Portmann
Children's Garden Parade – Lelania Avila, Daaby Tingle
Common Kitchen – Joel Glatz, Patti Hamilton, Tim Johnson, Rob Jones, Tom Kemp, Devon Salisbury, Bill Whitman
Common Thrones – Nancy Rosalie
Communications, Traffic and Parking Control – Bryan McLellan, Tristan Plumb, Matthew Strong
Composting and Recycling – Jeremy Brosnahan, Scott Brown, Obadiah Buell, Phyllis Capanna, Chris Childs, Karen Childs, Lisa Willey Critchfield, Maya Critchfield, Mark Dittrick, Kate Seena Mantor, Bill Whitman
Contradances – John McIntire, Doug Protsik
Country Kitchen – Rhonda Welcome, Terran Welcome
Country Store – Vicky Burwell, Amy Grant Trefethen, Lisa LeBel
Crafts Area – Tim Reimensnyder, Lynn Plumb
Donkeys and Mules – Claire Wallace
Draft Horse Demonstrations – Paul Birdsall, Donald Nickerson, Don Webb
Draft Horse Show – Bill Winslow, Darcy Winslow
Electricity – Tom Devries, Paul Murray, Jim Peary
EMS – Marilyn Luce, Kalem Malcolm, Kevin McGinnis, Cheri Volta
Energy and Shelter – John Belding Jr., Ashley Richards
Entertainment – Alfred Lund
Environmental Concerns – Gianna Short
Exhibition Hall – Matthew Dubois, Martha Gottlieb, Valerie Jackson, Amy LeBlanc, Claudette Nadeau, Janet Winslow
Fair Office – Debbie Atwood, Elizabeth Atwood, Evelyn Atwood, Meredith Batley
Farm and Homestead – Becka Gagne, Emily Lowell
Farmers' Markets – John Belding, Mary Belding, Adrienne Lee
Fiber Marketplace – Michele Bye
Fiddlers’ Showcase – John McIntire
Fleece Tent – Penelope Olson
Folk Arts – Anu Dudley
Food Area Liaison – Colleen Hanlon-Smith
Food Judging – Patti Hamilton
Hand Wash Stations – Svea Tullberg
Harry S. Truman Manure Pitch – Chris Buchanan, Timothy Pollin, Colin Richardson
Health and Healing – Mary Chamberlin
Hearing Impaired Interpreters – Stacey Bsullak
Herb Tent – Carol Gardener
Information Booth – Rebecca Brockway, Sue Buck, David Hilton, Molly Lebel, Philip Norris
Livestock – Cathy Reynolds
Livestock Gate – Barbara Luce
Low-Impact Forestry – Eli Berry, Sam Brown, Peter Hagerty, John Plowden
Maine Fiber Farms – Michelle DeLucia
Maine Indian Basketmakers – Jennifer Neptune, Theresa Secord
Maine Marketplace – Laurah Brown, Jeff Cotton, Patti Dowse, Cynthia Ryalls-Clephane
MOFGA Membership Booth – Bri Beecher, Joan Federman, Sherry Ann Haskell
MOFGA Gardens – Jack Kertesz, Nancy Rosalie, Bill Whitman
Oxen – Wesley Daniels, Joanna Kenefick, Steve Norton
Parking – Jeremy Colson, Bob Critchfield, Steven Hall, Gregory Hodge, John Krueger, Karina Shorten, Paul Volckhausen
Plumbing – Bob Weyer
Poster Street Team – Jenny Nelson
Poultry – Gayle McKiege
Public Policy Teach-In – Logan Perkins
Rabbit Exhibit – Perley Emery, Mary Merriam
Round Pen – Peter Hagerty
Safety – Lee Buck, Jeff Jarrett, Barry Magda, Steve Montague, David Murray, Jonboy St. Peter, Julie Trudel, Leo Trudel
School Bus Parking – Spencer Aitel
Show Ring – Tracey Wilkerson
Sign Distribution – Ted Hale
Signs – Kim Benham, Thia Embers, Bill Whitman
Site – Rob Curry, Eva Murray
Site Lighting – Tristan Plumb
Small Sound Systems – Stuart Reynolds
Social and Political Action – Gary Lawless, Beth Leonard, Joe Auciello
South Parking Signs – Bartlett Stoodley, Judith Stoodley
Stoneworkers – Jamie Metcalf
Tent Lighting – Parker Weyer
Ticket Gates – Shlomit Auciello, Chris Gardei, Skipp Green, Gregory Moore, Eric Rector, Jean Scott, Margie Shannon
Traffic Signage – Andy Bray, Gregory Hodge
Utilities – Scott Giroux, Steve Plumb
Volunteer Check-In Tent – David Bradford, Jeffry Chase, Eileen Fair, Mary Larlee, Nate Larlee, Kim Sellers, June Zellers
Volunteer Raffle – Madeline Weyer, Mary Weyer
Volunteer T-shirts – Melissa Bastien
Waste Water Systems – David Studer
Wednesday Spinners – Jani Estell, Penelope Olson, Cynthia Thayer
Whole Life Tent – Barbara Balkin, Tim Dougherty, Tricia Dougherty, Ellen Hodgdon, Ed Wilkins
Young Maine – Lee Cataldo
Youth Enterprise Zone – Sari Lindauer


Keynote Speakers

Friday, September 20
11 a.m., The Common
Sandor Katz, author and fermentation revivalist

Fermentation and Food Relocalization

Sandor Ellix Katz is a self-taught fermentation experimentalist. He wrote Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition and Craft of Live-Culture Food, which Newsweek called "the fermenting bible,” in order to share the fermentation wisdom he had learned and demystify home fermentation. Since the book's publication in 2003, Katz has taught hundreds of fermentation workshops across North America and beyond, taking on a role he now describes as a "fermentation revivalist." In his follow-up book, The Art of Fermentation, Katz crafts from his experience the countless stories about fermentation practices he's heard over the years and the answers to thousands of troubleshooting questions, a more in-depth exploration of fermentation.

A native of New York City, graduate of Brown University and retired policy wonk, Katz now lives in Cannon County, Tennessee. He has been living with AIDS since the 1980s and he considers fermented foods to be an important part of his healing and continued health. Most recently, Katz was featured in Michael Pollan's latest book, Cooked, in which Pollan apprentices himself to "several mad-genius 'fermentos'," including Katz, who "reveal how fungi and bacteria can perform the most amazing alchemy of all."

Saturday, September 21
11 a.m., The Common
Deb Soule, founder and owner of Avena Botanicals

Honoring Women Farmers and Gardeners, Locally and Globally

Deb Soule is an herbalist, gardener, teacher and author of The Woman's Handbook of Healing Herbs and her new book, How to Move Like a Gardener: Planting and Preparing Medicines From Plants. Raised in a small town in western Maine, Soule began organic gardening and studying medicinal uses of herbs at age 16 alongside the internationally known medical herbalist Mary Bove. Soule's faith in the healing qualities of plants includes a desire to make organic herbs easily accessible to women and families living in rural areas.

As Soule's knowledge and faith in the efficacy of medicinal herbs grew, so did her desire to serve her community. In a small 8-by-10-foot room in her house, Soule began preparing herbal remedies. In the fall of 1985, with her first mail-order catalog and a small selection of herbal extracts and teas, Soule launched Avena Botanicals ( at the Common Ground Country Fair in Windsor, Maine.

Soule's passion for plants, gardens and healing and her commitment to sharing herbal knowledge with others is central to her work. She frequently guest-lectures at conferences and teaches botany and horticulture students, garden clubs and medical students. In 2005, People, Places and Plants magazine named Soule as one of the 50 most influential gardeners in the Northeast.

Soule's life closely follows the yearly agricultural rhythm. From April through October she spends most days with her hands in the earth, tending 3 acres of medicinal plants using organic and biodynamic practices. During the spring and summer, she teaches herb classes and offers bi-monthly herb walks in Avena Botanicals’ herb gardens. Throughout the year she writes herb articles, develops herbal remedies and consults with clients and health care providers.

Sunday, September 22
11 a.m., The Common
George Siemon, CEIEIO and co-founder of CROPP Cooperative/Organic Valley

Cooperating with the Future

Organic Valley CEIEIO George Siemon taps into his 25 years of hard knocks and lessons learned to talk about the benefits of cooperatives and the risks of investor ownership. He sees the future as a cooperative venture between people, earth and a healthier future.

One of the nation's foremost organic agriculture advocates for nearly two decades, George Siemon is best known for his leadership in organizing farmers and building market support for organic agriculture. His work champions an agriculture that supports family farms with a fair and stable pay price, humane treatment of farm animals, healthy soil and environment and quality organic food.

In 1988, Siemon joined a group of family farmers in Wisconsin to found the Cooperative Regions of Organic Producer Pools (CROPP). More commonly known by its brands Organic Valley and Organic Prairie, CROPP has grown to become the largest organic farming cooperative in North America while remaining true to its local roots. The cooperative focuses on regional production and distribution, contracting with local production plants rather than building its own, thus investing in local communities and farmers instead of “brick and mortar.” Organic Valley producers promote sustainability by farming without antibiotics, synthetic hormones or pesticides. Their livestock herds feed on pasture, preserving landscapes and biodiversity for future generations.

As a part of Organic Valley or in his own time, Siemon has greatly influenced the organic industry for the past two decades. Most notably, he was instrumental in developing the national standards for organic certification. He also initiated Farmers Advocating for Organics, the largest (and only) U.S. organic-focused granting fund, which is funded entirely by Organic Valley farmer-owners; advised the USDA as part of the Livestock Standards Board; and currently participates on the boards of directors for The Organic Center and Global Animal Partnership.

In 2013, Siemon was inducted into the Hall of Legends by New Hope Natural Media, organizers of the Natural Product Expos. In 2012, he was awarded the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Growing Green Award in the “Business Leader” category and the Social Venture Network’s Hall of Fame Impact Award in the “Environmental Evangelist” category.