Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Jim Ahearne
Jim Ahearne
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Jim Ahearne Hired to Direct Common Ground Country Fair
The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association has hired Jim Ahearne, a MOFGA member and Freeport resident, as director of its annual Common Ground Country Fair – Maine's renowned celebration of the organic harvest and of vibrant, local economies.

Ahearne brings to MOFGA an enthusiasm for local and organic foods and a unique experience with events, festivals and concerts. A graduate of Hobart College in Geneva, New York, Ahearne moved to Maine in 1988 and brought with him his interest in producing festivals and live music that began with his experience in college as the director of the William Smith and Hobart Colleges Folk Festival. His path to MOFGA includes positions with Maine Arts, The Kennedy Center Honors, Concerts for the Environment, MTV, his own concert promotion enterprise, Whirly Gigs, and nine years with Tea Party Concerts, the company led by legendary concert promoter Don Law.  More recently Ahearne managed international clowning festivals in China.

Introduced to MOFGA and the Common Ground Country Fair in 1989 via the internship that his then wife-to-be, Lucy Birkett, had with Hidden Valley Farm in Whitefield, Maine, Jim and Lucy have been regular fairgoers ever since.

 "When I told my daughters about my new job here with MOFGA, my eldest
 daughter's first comment was, 'Excellent, we'll get to stay over and camp at the Fair
 this year!'" Ahearne beamed.  "Needless to say, I share her enthusiasm for the Common Ground Country Fair, and I am delighted to have this opportunity to contribute professionally to such an inspiring and positive event here in Maine.”
Ahearne began his new position in early March, taking the reins from MOFGA's educational programs assistant April Boucher and associate director Heather Spalding, who have coordinated Fair logistics since Barbara Luce resigned as Fair director last October. Boucher and Spalding continue working closely with Ahearne, who observed, “With a planning team of close to160 volunteers aided by a core group of 25 on the Fair Steering Committee and the close collaboration with Heather, April and many other MOFGA staff members, I’m in good hands.”
"I couldn't be more pleased with the results of our several-month search for the next Fair director," said Spalding. "MOFGA is fortunate to have an excellent workforce of talented, capable and dedicated staff members and 
volunteers.  Jim's experience will be so helpful to us, and I'm sure we'll all
 have a great time learning from each other."


Plant NOW for Your Exhibition Hall Entry

The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) sponsors the Common Ground Country Fair, which encourages agriculturally based rural communities. The Exhibition Hall at the Fair maintains one of the original intents of agricultural fairs: to improve local farming and gardening by bringing farmers and gardeners together to compare the outcomes of their cultivation practices. Traditionally, exhibition halls served as a postharvest forum where growers could teach and learn from each other about their successes and failures.  The Common Ground Country Fair and MOFGA host an exhibition hall for this very purpose.

Maine residents can compete in many contests in the Exhibition Hall, including: great pumpkin; biggest squash; great zucchini; biggest cabbage; biggest beet; giant cuke; the "whatever" contest for vegetable oddities; organic farm exhibits; MOFGA chapter exhibits; other fruit and vegetable exhibits; canned foods; dried foods; baked goods; honey; eggs; herbs and houseplants. There is also a "Compost Bin Specials" category for the largest and/or most unusual product of the compost bin! Oversized or most dramatically crossed varieties will receive special attention.

Work by amateur artists and craftspeople also appears in the Exhibition Hall. Some of the arts and crafts on display in the Exhibition Hall each year include afghans, bedspreads, quilts, clothing, sweaters, rugs, wall hangings, basketry, candles, dried flower arrangements, handmade soaps, pottery, photographs, paintings, woodcuts and silkscreens.

Schoolchildren can take part in the Children's Apple Pie Contest, and all Mainers can participate in the Natural Dessert Competition.

To learn more about how to participate in any of the Exhibition Hall Activities please visit the Fair’s Exhibition Hall page at

Youth Encouraged to Raise, Display Poultry

The volunteers who put on the Poultry Display for the Common Ground Fair want to expand the opportunities for youth to exhibit at the Fair.  The group is looking for children ages 6 to 18 (with assistance from an adult) who are interested in raising layers and/or broilers which will then be exhibited and judged at the Fair.  This could be a science project for extra credit at school, or a 4-H project, or just a fun and rewarding project for the future farmer.  Poultry keepers are available to help teach the husbandry skills necessary to succeed.  For more information, contact Johanna Moore at or 582-6512.

Volunteer for the 2008 Common Ground Country Fair

Share your skills or learn something new as a volunteer at the 2008 Common Ground Country Fair. We need hundreds of volunteers for our annual celebration of rural living. The Fair dates are September 19, 20 and 21. The Fair also depends on volunteers for set-up (September 12 - 18) and cleanup (September 22 - 28). Individuals, families and groups are all welcome to volunteer at The Fair.

All preregistered volunteers are guaranteed a T-shirt in their requested size. Volunteers who work a 4-hour shift will receive one T-shirt, free admission and one free meal. Additional 4-hour shifts entitle the volunteer to additional meals and additional days of free admission. We will again offer 2-hour shifts with limited benefits. Walk-in volunteers are welcome and may sign up for either a 4-hour or a 2-hour shift, but we encourage volunteers to preregister, even if they don’t know what area or shift they prefer, to ensure that we have enough T-shirts on hand.

Volunteers are the core of the unique community atmosphere that defines the Common Ground Country Fair. You’ve seen the bumper sticker, “No Farms. No Food.”  At the Fair it’s been said, “No Volunteers. No Fair.” Contributing in every imaginable way – from face painting to car parking, preparing meals to collecting and sorting trash, with Fair set-up through cleanup – volunteers do just about anything and everything necessary to make the Common Ground Country Fair happen.

Where can you fit in? Here are some possibilities:
  • Want to help ensure smooth traffic flow into and out of the Fair parking lots? Work with our Parking team!
  • Do you want to see the Fair move toward zero garbage generation by reducing waste, maximizing recycling and composting biodegradable waste for our gardens? Join the Compost and Recycling Team!
  • Do you enjoy cooking delicious meals from organic whole foods? Join the crew in the Common Kitchen and help us feed over 1,000 volunteers throughout the weekend!
  • Are you a night owl or an early riser? Safety volunteers need help during “off” hours at the Fair. Volunteer early or late and enjoy the Fair during the day!
A thorough list of detailed volunteer job descriptions and volunteer guidelines and registration forms are available via the “Volunteers” link on the Fair page at For more information about volunteering at the Fair, contact the Fair office at 207-568-4142 or

School Groups Wanted to Help with Fair Cleanup

When the Fair is over and most people have gone home, a great deal of work remains. Our volunteers for cleanup are very special folks whom we hold in extra-high esteem. For the past couple of years, school groups have attended the Fair free during the weekend and have returned after the Fair to help with some of the major cleanup projects. If you would like to help coordinate school groups both before and after the Fair, please contact the Fair office. If you are a teacher or student and would like to pitch in, please let us know. We will provide a meal and a volunteer T-shirt (after the Fair) for each student on the day of his or her volunteer shift. Volunteering for cleanup allows students plenty of time to explore the Fair during the weekend and instills a sense of ownership in the Fair. We appreciate any help you can give. Phone 207-568-4142 or email

Grow Food to Feed Fair Volunteers

Plant a row for the Fair. To help provide wholesome meals for the 1,000+ volunteers at the Fair, we accept donations of organic food for the Common Kitchen. If you would like to donate some organic food to Common Kitchen at the Fair, please call the Fair office at 207-568-4142 or email with your intended donation so that we can plan menus around donations.

Wish List – Children's Area

The Children's Area is seeking the following donations:
  • Age-appropriate agricultural demonstrations for children
  • Face paints
  • Tempura paints
  • Glue (school glue types)
  • Wooden dowels, beads and wooden blocks
  • Buttons
  • Fabric scraps, yarn, wool and other fibers
  • Duct tape, masking tape and cello tape
  • Clothespins
  • Birch bark, pine cones and other materials for fairy houses
Please call the Fair office at 207-568-4142 or email if you have donations. Thanks!

Help Put the Word in the Street!

We are always on the lookout for good, high-traffic viewing locales for our Common Ground Country Fair posters and brochures. The full size poster has instant, "Oh! There's the Common Ground Country Fair poster!" recognition and works well in lunchrooms and business locations with large spaces for displays. We also have a legal-sized poster that includes the artwork, photos of the Fair and general Fair information. These fit well in local Mom and Pop stores, on community boards, in shop windows and other places with limited display space. And the brochure provides more detail about the Fair, including directions and an overview of the myriad of workshops, demonstrations, exhibitors and vendors celebrating rural and sustainable living in Maine. These are well suited to checkout counters and information centers.

Would you like to help promote the Fair? If you have suggestions for locales or are willing to distribute posters and brochures in your workplace, school or neighborhood, please get in touch at or 207-568-4142. Thanks!

Artists: Call for Entries

Each year, MOFGA invites Maine residents and MOFGA members (regardless of residence) to submit a design for our Common Ground Country Fair poster, and we are currently accepting submissions for the 2009 Fair. The selected artwork will be featured on the 2009 Fair poster, Web site, T-Shirt and promotional literature. The artist will be featured in The MOF&G newspaper, along with press releases that focus on the artist and the artwork. In addition to these benefits, the winning artist will receive $1,000.

Artists may submit two entries. All entries must arrive in the MOFGA office by 4 p.m. on Friday, August 8, 2008. For complete guidelines, including technical specifications, eligibility requirements and timeline, please visit the Fair Artwork link on the Fair page at or contact the Fair office at or 207-568-4142.
Posters featuring this year's pastoral landscape artwork will be on sale for $10 at the Fair and through

CGCF Poster 2008