Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Common Ground Country Fair News - Spring 2008

Fair News Archive \ Fair News - Spring 2008

2008 CGCF Poster

Keynote Speakers Confirmed For This Year's Fair

One keynote speaker is featured each day of the Common Ground Fair, with Friday reserved for a Maine farmer-speaker.  For the 2008 Fair, we are excited to have:

Friday:  John Bunker – long-time MOFGA board member; creator of the Maine Heritage Orchard at MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center; Fedco Trees coordinator; and author of Not Far from the Tree: A Brief History of the Apples and the Orchards of Palermo, Maine, 1804-2004.

Saturday:  Jeffrey Smith – international spokesperson on the health dangers of genetically modified organisms; author of Seeds of Deception and Genetic Roulette; director of the Campaign for Healthier Eating in America from the Institute for Responsible Technology, where he is executive director; producer of the docu-video series The GMO Trilogy; and internationally syndicated columnist of Spilling the Beans.

Sunday:  Gary Nabhan – writer, lecturer and world-renown conservation scientist; outgoing director of the Center for Sustainable Environments at Northern Arizona University, where he catalyzed the Canyon Country Fresh regional food initiative on the Colorado Plateau; co-founder Native Seeds/SEARCH; and leading voice for conserving and renovating native plant agriculture in the Americas.

Start Planning For The Fair

Here are some things that you can do now to start planning for the big event:
  • order seeds and start plants for your garden. Results could be entered in the Exhibition Hall displays or offered to the Common Kitchen to help feed Common Ground volunteers during the Fair. If you do grow a row for the Kitchen, please let Bill Whitman know (225-3915). Thanks!
  • contact the Fair office to find out how you might volunteer before, during and/or after the Fair;
  • create the winning illustration for the 2009 Common Ground Country Fair artwork contest. Details are posted at
  • encourage your local school administrators to plan a student field trip to Common Ground. It's never too early to ask, especially because the Fair comes right after the start of the school year. Remember, all student groups get into the Fair free on Friday!
  • let the Fair office know if you have a special farming, gardening or cooking skill that you would like to share with Fairgoers. We’ll put you in touch with an area coordinator who will schedule a talk for you;
  • start training for the 5K Common Ground Country Fair footrace;
  • organize the clutter around your house and donate natural materials to the arts and crafts tent in the Children's Area;
  • start your shopping list for this year’s holiday season. Down East Magazine recently voted the Fair as Maine's best place to find locally made gifts;
  • tune your bicycle and your body so that you can bicycle, part-way or all the way, to the Fair. Valet bicycle parking is provided;
  • encourage entrepreneurial kids to participate in the Youth Enterprise Zone on Friday of the Fair. Contact the Fair office for details.

Sow Some Wheat, Show Some Wheat!

Exhibition Hall co-coordinator Martha Gottlieb hopes that several MOF&G readers will grow diverse varieties of wheat this year. Eli Rogosa, who wrote about her work with heritage wheat varieties in the March-May 2007 MOF&G, is going to create a display booth of ancient and heritage wheat varieties for the Common Ground Country Fair Exhibition Hall this September. To complement her display, the Exhibition Hall coordinators want to have a table full of Maine-grown wheat and other small grains: spelt, barley, rye, oats, amaranth, quinoa… “We would like Maine growers to bring us a rich diversity of grain varieties for a special table,” says Gottlieb. “We mean to have such an emphasis [on a particular crop] every year.” For more about the Exhibition Hall, click here.

Apply for a Booth

Would you like to be a vendor, exhibitor or demonstrator at the 2008 Common Ground Country Fair? We are accepting applications for most areas (except Crafts) of the Fair. Area coordinators will review applications this spring, so contact the Fair office right away. If you are unsure of which area to apply to, call us for help.

The application process for the Crafts booths at the 2008 Fair has closed.

If you would like to apply to be a craft vendor at the 2009 Fair, please contact the office and we’ll put you on our mailing list.

Agricultural Demonstrations

Coordinators of agricultural demonstrations at the Fair are planning this year’s schedule. If you have a particular farming and/or gardening skill that you would like to share with fairgoers, please let us know. We are always looking for new and different topics. Also, if you know of someone who has valuable knowledge or expertise relating to organic farming in Maine, and who would like to speak at the Fair, please encourage him or her to contact us at 568-4142. We are wide open to suggestions. Thanks. For more information about Agricultural Demonstrations at the Fair, click here.

Join the Planning Team!

Would you like to help coordinate some aspect of the Fair? The Planning Team just may have the perfect job for you. Contact the Fair Office at or 207-568-4142.

Railroad Closing

It appears that Fairgoers will have one less mode of transportation to the Fair this year. Although its trains have been full of happy fairgoers for several years, The Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad and Preservation Society has decided to shut down and sell its assets and equipment. The tourist railroad, which has run excursion trains from early spring through late fall, reported two disappointing years of ridership and a lack of member support. The announcement follows several previous attempts to stimulate interest in supporting the 140-year-old railroad whose original charter was signed by Governor Joshua Chamberlain in 1867.

“We are very grateful to our corporate sponsors and other members who have supported the Preservation Society as we provided special excursions, holiday and foliage tours, and special events,” said Robert Lamontagne, President of the Belfast Railroad Preservation Society. “We regret that the Society cannot continue running operations at a loss. We want to carefully review and examine our status with the state and other contractors in order to ensure an orderly transition, and hope to find interested buyers for the equipment and station house facilities.”

Under the ownership of several different organizations over the last 140 years, the railroad carried freight through Central Maine; following the decline of the freight business in the 1980s, it operated as a tourist attraction. The Preservation Society was formed in 2005 to run the railroad and operate a train museum, catering to tourists and railroad buffs alike.