Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Fair News – Fall 2014

Fair News Archive \ Fair News - Fall 2014

MOFGA's 38th Common Ground Country Fair
Message from the Fair Director, April Boucher
Welcome, Fair Volunteers!
Thanks to Fair Donors
Thank You to the Volunteers Who Coordinated the 2014 Fair
Special Thanks to the Fair Steering Committee

Public Policy Teach-In: Antibiotics and Your Dinner Plate

Keynote Speakers

    Chaitanya York Finding Common Ground: History, Acknowledgements and Perspective
    Ben Falk – Farm and Homestead Resiliency
    Andre Leu
    – The Myths of Safe Pesticides


Message from the Fair Director

As the days get shorter and autumn breezes blow, a refreshing energy fills the air. It’s Fair time. Simply as impending rain hurries the hay harvest and snow urges us to curl up with a good book, autumn’s refreshing breeze reminds us to celebrate; to look at how far we’ve come and where our excitement and passion will lead us next.

The Common Ground Country Fair has many opportunities to celebrate and explore – including more than 700 talks and demonstrations. Everyone is welcome to participate, ask questions and listen. Many of our presenters are volunteers giving back to the community. It is as Maya Angelou said, “When you learn, teach, when you get, give.” For this and the more than 2,000 volunteers who help organize and run the Fair, I am eternally grateful.

This volunteerism, sharing and giving creates the wonderful sense of community that we celebrate at the Fair. To help fairgoers continue these connections, we have a separate participants list (available at the Information Booth next to the Exhibition Hall entrance and on that can sit comfortably next to your phone or computer. In it is contact information for the more than 1,400 vendors, exhibitors and speakers.

So many wonderful people and events populate the Fair. I hope you find your time at the Fair invigorating and feel inspired to do what you love, get involved, or simply sit back and enjoy.

April Boucher
Director, Common Ground Country Fair


Welcome, Fair Volunteers!

Thank you. Thank you to our almost 2,000 volunteers who make this Fair possible. We rely on volunteers to park cars, take tickets, sell T-shirts, cook supper and perform countless other tasks that make the Fair a success each year. If you visit the Fair, be sure to say thanks to all those wonderful folks wearing the VOLUNTEER T-shirts!

Or maybe you’d like to join the volunteers this year and help keep the Fair running smoothly. We need help from early September, throughout the Fair weekend, and continuing after the Fair until cleanup is complete. If you volunteer for a 4-hour shift, you’ll receive admission to the Fair, camping privileges, an organic cotton Fair T-shirt and a meal from the Common Kitchen – not to mention our thanks and appreciation! 

Sign up for a shift online via our volunteer registration site at If you’d prefer to register by mail, contact Anna Libby, MOFGA's volunteer coordinator, at or 207-568-4142.


Thanks to Fair Donors

The Fair would not be possible without the tremendous work of more than 2,000 volunteers, and feeding all those volunteers would not be possible without the generous contributions to the Common Kitchen from Maine farmers, food vendors and food businesses. We list the Common Kitchen donors in the winter issue of The MOF&G, and during the Fair we recognize these donors on the Common Kitchen donor wall adjacent to the solar array. Many Fair vendors also donate products to our volunteer raffle. To all the businesses that support our volunteers, we thank you!

We also benefit from the generosity of many businesses and organizations that contribute their services to help produce the Fair. We are particularly grateful for the support of the following members of the medical community for our emergency medical services (EMS) at the Fair. Capital Ambulance provides paramedic-level ambulance service all three days of the Fair. Eastern Maine Medical Center provides board certified emergency medicine physicians and their equipment and supplies at the EMS station. Sugarloaf Ambulance/Rescue Vehicles provides cots and a mini-ambulance, which enables us to provide EMS care and transport on the busy fairgrounds. And Waldo County Communications Center provides dispatching services for the Fair EMS. Along with the EMS volunteers, their support enables us to offer a high level of EMS service at the Fair.


Thank You to the Volunteers Who Coordinated the 2014 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 –Michelle DeLucia, Wesley Daniel, 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, Celeste Mittelhauser
Common Kitchen – Donna Derenthal, Joel Glatz, Patti Hamilton, Tim Johnson, Rob Jones, Tom Kemp, Laurie Lundgren, Ali Palm, Devon Salisbury,
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, Ansel Critchfield, Maya Critchfield, Mark Dittrick, Kate Seena Mantor
Contradances – John McIntire, Doug Protsik
Country Kitchen – Rhonda Welcome, Terran Welcome
Country Store –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 – Rebekah Amos, Jeffrey King, Alfred Lund, Pam Weeks, Fred White
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 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, Brad Johnson, Tim Libby, John Plowden
Maine Fiber Farms – Michelle DeLucia
Maine Indian Basketmakers – Jennifer Neptune, Gretchen Faulkner
Maine Marketplace – Jeff Cotton, Patti Dowse, Cynthia Ryalls-Clephane
MOFGA Membership Booth – Bri Beecher, Joan Federman, Sherry Ann Haskell
MOFGA Gardens – Jack Kertesz, Nancy Rosalie,
Oxen – Wesley Daniel, 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 – JoAnn Myers
Rabbit Exhibit – Perley Emery, Mary Merriam
Remote Meal Delivery – Diane Bray
Round Pen – Peter Hagerty
Safety –Margie Black, John Greimel, 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, Kreg McCune
Signs – Kim Benham, Thia Embers
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 – Chris Gardei, Skipp Green, Gregory Moore, Eric Rector, Jean Scott, Margie Shannon
Utilities – Scott Giroux
Volunteer Check-In Tent – David Bradford, Jeffry Chase, Eileen Fair, Mary Larlee, Nate Larlee, Kim Sellers
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 – Tim Dougherty, Tricia Dougherty, Ed Wilkins
Young Maine – Lee Cataldo
Youth Enterprise Zone – Jeff Cotton, Sari Lindauer, Rose Whitehead


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, 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.


Public Policy Teach-In: Antibiotics and Your Dinner Plate

Antibiotic resistant bacteria – “super bacteria” – what does this mean for our health and the health of livestock, and what can any of us do about it?

Saturday at 2 p.m. on the Spotlight Stage

Antibiotic resistance is a major national and global health concern. Eighty percent of all antibiotics used in the United States are fed to farm animals. Especially on confinement farms and feedlots, livestock get non-therapeutic doses of antibiotics to boost growth and prevent health problems that come with overcrowded conditions. The widespread and continual use of antibiotics in livestock production is contributing significantly to the increase in bacterial resistance to antibiotics, not only in animals but also in humans. And this bacterial resistance often confounds the ability of healthcare providers to help their patients. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “there were an estimated 722,000 healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) in U.S acute care hospitals in 2011. About 75,000 hospital patients with HAIs died during their hospitalizations.” The National Academy of Sciences reported that "a decrease in antimicrobial use in human medicine alone will have little effect on the current situation. Substantial efforts must be made to decrease inappropriate overuse in animals and agriculture as well." The Food and Drug Administration recently issued voluntary guidelines for livestock producers focusing on nontherapeutic uses.

Consumers have a lot of power. We cannot buy our way out of this problem – it lives all around us – but consumers have the power to push back against the pervasive practice of nontherapeutic doses of antibiotics. In Maine we have the opportunity to know our farmers and to know our food. Maine has no meat-producing confinement farms, so buying local can be your act to push back on nontherapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock farming. Organic farming rules prohibit the use of antibiotics in livestock. Buying local, certified organic meat assures that you are consuming antibiotic-free meat.

Join us for an informative panel discussion on Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Spotlight Stage Tent. Panelists will address the following questions:

Why and how are antibiotics used in meat and dairy production facilities?
What do food labels really tell you about what is in your food?
How do certified organic farmers treat their livestock?
What can we do to reduce antibiotic use in livestock?
Where can we find local and organic meat in Maine?

About the speakers:

Stephen Sears, M.D., M.P.H., is chief of staff and a member of the senior management team (Quadrad) at VA Maine Healthcare System (Togus). His responsibilities include strategic planning and improving access and quality of medical care services for veterans in Maine. Dr. Sears most recently served as the state epidemiologist for Maine. Prior experience includes senior management positions at both Mercy Health System and MaineGeneral Health. Dr. Sears received his medical degree from Dartmouth Medical School and a Master of Public Health degree from Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. He is an infectious disease physician by training and has combined a career of both clinical and administrative medicine. He has been active on many volunteer boards focused on public health in Maine.

Don Hoenig, D.V.M., was Maine’s state veterinarian for most of his career, overseeing all livestock and poultry health, especially diseases relating to human health. His work integrated animal health, public health and environmental stewardship. Farmers across the state have enormous respect for the assistance that Dr. Hoenig provided to incorporate economical and successful strategies to maintain livestock health. Dr. Hoenig, now retired from the state veterinarian post, continues to consult with Maine farmers and raise public awareness of problems associated with overuse of antibiotics in livestock. Dr. Hoenig also served as an American Veterinary Medical Association congressional fellow in the office of Senator Susan Collins and now serves as the chief veterinary advisor for the American Humane Association’s Humane Heartland program.

Jennifer Obadia, Ph.D., is a New England coordinator for the Healthy Food in Health Care Program of the global coalition Health Care Without Harm. Obadia conducts research with Farm-to-Institution New England and coordinates the Massachusetts Convergence Partnership. She has years of experience in community-based education and food access programs. With degrees in sustainable development, conservation biology and nutrition, she has conducted research on the Healthy Corner Store and managed the Boston Bounty Bucks farmers’ market incentive program. A major initiative of Health Care Without Harm is reduction of antibiotic use in animal agriculture.

Alice Percy, with her husband, Rufus, operates MOFGA certified organic Treble Ridge Farm in Whitefield, where they raise pigs, make hay and grow grain, vegetables and strawberries. An advocate for organic farmers, Percy graduated from Colby College with a degree in environmental science. She is vice president of the MOFGA board of directors and has served on MOFGA’s Public Policy Committee for many years, focusing much of her volunteer time reporting on the work of Maine’s Board of Pesticides Control.

Our moderator, Nancy Ross, Ph.D., is a member of MOFGA’s Public Policy Committee. She served as executive director of MOFGA from 1987 to 1995. Her planning and analytical background and her expertise in communications have served MOFGA well through much of its history. Dr. Ross earned a Ph.D. in agriculture, food and environment at Tufts University and taught environmental policy at Unity College, retiring in 2013.


Keynote Speakers

Friday, September 19
11 a.m., The Common

Chaitanya York

Chaitanya York, Founding Common Ground Country Fair Director

Finding Common Ground: History, Acknowledgements and Perspective

Chaitanya York was the founding Common Ground Country Fair director and MOFGA’s first executive director. He will speak about the organization of the first Fair and will share insights about some of MOFGA’s early accomplishments, such as chapter building, helping to pass the Agricultural Development Act and putting teeth into the Farmland and Open Space Law.

York compares the Fair with the hundredth monkey effect, in which an idea takes hold quickly once a critical number acknowledge it.

“The greatest privilege of my working life was to be the first to realize the idea of Common Ground” – an idea that occurred simultaneously among others, including members of the first planning team, of the MOFGA board and chapter directors.

“It was as if once we’d reached the hundredth monkey, the power of Victor Hugo’s observation that ‘Nothing is so powerful as an idea whose time has come’ kicked in, and the whole MOFGA membership owned the idea and started sharing it with the larger community. Then, as a wise man observed, ‘Once an idea’s time has come, even those who say it can’t be done contribute to its realization,’ often revealing corrections that we needed to make.”

The power of the Fair comes from its manifestation of ‘right livelihood,’ says York, whereby MOFGA expresses its mission and vision and serves its members and the greater community with a Fair that simultaneously provides the organization with ‘right livelihood income.’ “You can’t generate and use money much better than that.”

Regarding his career, York says, “I’ve always pretty much done the same things that I started doing when I was a student council leader in high school: organization, membership and partnership building driven by mission and vision, and funding development, especially to meet important educational needs. And I often seem to come in handy when there’s an income crisis requiring some creative solutions and team work.”

He has worked as the legislative advocate for the Maine Consortium of Food Self Reliance; director of the Division of Resource Development at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources; director of development, executive director, and president and CEO of the Maine Conservation School. Most recently, he served six years as a board member and membership chair, including two years as vice president, of the Friends of Baxter State Park. He’s also a humorist.


Saturday, September 20
11 a.m., The Common

Ben Falk

Ben Falk, Founder of Whole Systems Design LLC and author of The Resilient Farm and Homestead

Farm and Homestead Resiliency

In a time of multiple convening crises and opportunity, the work of land regeneration and resiliency is more urgent than ever. Fortunately, it's also maturing and becoming more visible with each passing year. Ben Falk and Whole Systems Design LLC have been testing resilient water, food, heating and medicinal systems in the context of land regeneration at the homestead and farm scales for more than 10 years, developing models of ecosystem-enhancing landscapes that also yield human values. Their projects have tested the viability of rice in a cold climate, trialed dozens of relatively new and underused perennial species, spawned development of intensive microclimates for extended season production and helped push the boundaries of what’s considered possible in stormwater infiltration and erosion-prevention/nutrient-capture in a working landscape. Whole Systems Design has begun to prove that a production-oriented landscape can rapidly improve soil and water quality, enhance wildlife habitat and absorb nearly all stormwater landing on a landscape while requiring ever fewer off-site inputs to function and be much more adaptable to the stresses of a changing climate. Such are the prospects and reality of perennial-based, highly diverse and integrated agricultural ecosystems.


Sunday, September 21
11 a.m., The Common

Andre Leu

Andre Leu, president of the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM), the world umbrella body for the organic sector

The Myths of Safe Pesticides

Leu has more than 40 years of experience in organic agriculture and agroecology, from growing to pest control, weed management, marketing, post-harvest treatment, transport, grower organizations and developing new crops. He has extensive first-hand knowledge of farming and environmental systems in Asia, Europe, the Americas and Africa – and on his and his wife, Julia’s, agroecological organic tropical fruit orchard in Daintree, Queensland, Australia.

Leu’s degrees in communications and education and his 20-plus years of teaching serve him well in workshops on organic production and in teaching horticulture and environmental subjects.

He has written and published extensively in periodicals, conference proceedings, newsletters, Web and other media on organic agriculture, climate change, the environment and the health benefits of organic.

Leu will speak about his book, The Myths of Safe Pesticides, showing that inadequate pesticide regulation is causing numerous human health problems, evidenced by hundreds of scientific studies. The Myths of Safe Pesticides outlines deficiencies in regulating toxic chemicals used on our food and proposes that many criteria underpinning current use patterns are based on outdated assumptions rather than on the latest published science. For example, most pesticide formulations sold are not tested for safety; the smallest amounts of chemical residues can be harmful; many pesticides are more toxic when they biodegrade; and regulatory authorities are ignoring a large body of peer reviewed science showing harm caused by pesticides. Finally, Leu says that toxic synthetic pesticides are not needed in farming, as organic farming can feed the world.