Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Fair News – Summer 2009

Fair News Archive \ Fair News – Summer 2009

2009 Common Ground Country Fair poster
“The Apples of Maine” Poster is a Winner
Featured Speakers Preview for 2009 Fair
Clean and Share Your Garden Seed at the 2009 Fair
Reminder: Bottled Water Sales Eliminated for 2009 Fair
Coffee at the Fair
MOFGA Food Policy

“The Apples of Maine” Poster is a Winner

Months before the Common Ground Country Fair, John Bunker’s winning design for the 2009 Fair poster (and other products) is garnering delicious praise throughout Maine. Maybe that’s because the 16 apples depicted, one from each Maine county, are “a metaphor for local communities, food, family and agriculture, where a lot of potential for the future is,” says Bunker. We can use the rich heritage of Maine’s heirloom apples to “imagine the best of the past and use what we imagine as a way of moving forward.”

Bunker has long been fascinated with multiple varieties of any crop – tomatoes, peppers, apples – that originated in a particular area, because of the deep connection to place, to agriculture. “That’s the ultimate in local,” he says; “saving a seed, growing it into something, naming it, creating an heirloom, passing it down.”

That process makes heirloom varieties fascinating and frustrating. “A lot of local varieties are not in any book,” says Bunker. The hidden history of these apples can be “maddening when you’re trying to find information, but it adds to the localness of them.” He recalls starting with the deep purple-skinned ‘Black Oxford’ apple of Oxford County, “then it became like a game” to find other Maine apples – “like the license plate game.”

Bunker has brought much of that history to life by rescuing Maine’s heirloom apples and offering them through Fedco Trees (, which he coordinates; and by planting a Maine Heritage Orchard at MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center in Unity.

“Somebody, probably Russ [Libby], said, ‘Let’s do a couple of orchards here.’

“What an opportunity!” It fed right into Bunker’s belief in the value of rescuing Maine’s heirlooms. “I had made the decision not to go to Kazakhstan, Russia, China [centers of origin of many apple varieties], because I was driving by all these apples in neighbors’ yards.” Going abroad “would have been the ultimate in hilarity. I thought I should be learning about the apples that grow here.”

About two years ago, Bunker decided to do a poster of an apple from each county. He’d been doodling all his life and had learned to draw better to illustrate the Fedco Trees catalog.

“I did one apple for a friend for a birthday present, and it came out good.”

When he wrote his book, Not Far From the Tree: A Brief History of the Apples and the Orchards of Palermo, Maine 1804-2004, “people said, ‘You really need to do a cover.’

“So I picked the four quintessential apples that I kept finding in Palermo and painted them.” The result “gave me the courage to do the poster.”

He worked with paint board and acrylics, basing the work on photos he had taken.

Limiting the design to one apple per county was a challenge. “I could have done a whole poster on Kennebec County. That was the breadbasket of Maine; all those great farming towns along the river.”

Bunker liked the 16-county idea, though, “because it says something about caring enough to know what the counties are in Maine. It says local agriculture was everywhere. People can look at an apple on the poster and say, ‘I know that place!’”

Bunker was at the MOFGA board meeting where the winning design was selected, “but I left before the poster meeting. I was walking out, and Roy Miller [who co-coordinates the Country Store at the Common Ground Country Fair] came running up to me saying, ‘You won’t believe this poster! You’re going to love it!’”

Bunker praises Liberty Graphics for doing a great job with the color separation. “I’m gratified. It matters to me that people like it. And I’m proud for Maine. We did this. It’s our heritage.”

His advice to other aspiring poster contest entrants is, “Do it. People should screw up their courage and paint something. I didn’t go about it thinking, ‘What would make a good Fair poster?’ but ‘What do I want to say visually to the world?’ It’s a good way for people to express themselves.”

Bunker will be signing posters at the 2009 Common Ground Country Fair (date and time TBA). Posters, T-shirts, cloth bags and other goods with the apple design on them will be available at the Common Ground Country Fair on Sept. 25, 26 and 27, and at Not Far from the Tree is also available at


In the Summer issue of The MOF&G, we said that John Bunker, whose apple art adorns this year’s Fair products, founded Fedco Seeds. In fact, he founded Fedco Trees, not Fedco Seeds.

Featured Speakers Preview for 2009 Common Ground Country Fair

We are working on a tremendous offering of speakers and presenters for this year's Fair. The final schedule won't be ready until later this summer, but here's a preview of a few of this year’s presenters:

Sam Levin, one of three coordinators of Project Sprout, will be our keynote speaker on Friday, September 25. Project Sprout is a student-led and inspired, onsite garden that supplements food served in the Monument Mountain High School in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. A high school student, Levin was invited to address Slow Food's biennial gathering at Terra Madre, Italy, in October 2008, where he stole the show. We couldn't resist inviting him to speak at the Fair on Friday, when we have more than 7,000 Maine school students on hand.

Mark Guzzi of Peacemeal Farm in Dixmont is surely one of the busiest, most industrious and entertaining young farmers leading Maine's organic agriculture movement. Guzzi agreed to take a break from running his bustling farm stand in the Fair's farmers' market to be our keynote speaker on Sunday, September 27.

Sandra Steingraber, acclaimed author, biologist, cancer survivor and mother, returns to Common Ground as the featured speaker at our public policy teach-in.

Amy Goldman, passionate seed saver, proponent of agricultural heritage and genetic diversity, and author of the beautiful and richly informative books Melons for the Passionate Grower; The Compleat Squash: A Passionate Grower's Guide to Pumpkins, Squashes, and Gourds; and The Heirloom Tomato: From Garden to Table: Recipes, Portraits, and History of the World's Most Beautiful Fruit, will be a special guest speaker in the exhibition hall.

Rebecca Laughton, author of the newly published book on smallholding, Surviving and Thriving on the Land, lived for four years at Tinker’s Bubble, an ecological community in Somerset, England, where the residents manage 40 acres of land without using fossil fuels.

Much more is certainly in store for the 2009 Fair. Look for workshops and talks led by many of Maine's own agricultural talents, including Will Bonsall, Barbara Damrosch, Mark Fulford, John Bunker and more. Plus, the seed cleaning demonstrations and equipment return this year (see article below).

Clean and Share Your Garden Seed at the 2009 Common Ground Country Fair – Sept. 25, 26 and 27

This year you can share your seed with the rest of the MOFGA community. Let some of those onions, hollyhocks, echinacea and other seed-bearing plants stay in the garden after they flower and make seed heads. Bring the raw, uncleaned seed to the Common Ground Fair and have it cleaned. You can then take the cleaned seed home with you or donate it to the Exhibition Hall seed swap where the Exhibition Hall staff will package and label it for distribution to other fairgoers free of charge. See the 2009 fairbook for the seed swap schedule.

The seed cleaning demonstrators will be able to process dried seed heads using a belt thresher to thresh dry seeded plants; a desktop clipper to clean chaff and debris from small seed; and an air column to clean chaff and debris from small and large seed.

We may also be able to process fleshy fruits such as melons and tomatoes, so if you want, bring some of these as well.

The seed cleaning exhibit/demonstration will be open all three days of the Fair. For the location, please see the map of the fairgrounds in the 2009 fairbook. You may leave unprocessed seed in a large box at that location if the demonstration area is not staffed when you arrive.

Place your seed in a paper bag labeled with type of seed, date it was harvested, whether you want it back or are donating it to the seed swap, and your name. Drop the bag in the box or hand it to an attendant. We will clean it as time permits.

Contact Adam Tomash at 207-582-5248 or for details.
Cup Holder
The MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee will sell shoulder bags that hold Mason jars for carrying water at the Common Ground Country Fair. The bags were made by a Salvadoran crocheting cooperative that is part of the sistering project. Fairgoers can also buy stainless steel water bottles at the Country Store – or just bring your own cup to get free water from the many drinking water filling stations or water fountains on the grounds. Photo by Karen Volckhausen.

Reminder: Bottled Water Sales Eliminated for 2009 Fair

As announced in the last MOF&G, bottled water will not be sold at the 2009 Common Ground Country Fair. An abundant supply of fresh, clean drinking water is available free, so bring your own bottle, jar or cup and look for one of the many drinking water filling stations or water fountains. And, of course, the Fair vendors always have an enticing array of refreshments, including bog juice (made with Maine cranberries), apple cider, smoothies, honey sweetened lemonade, peach lassis and more.

Coffee at the Fair

For most of the history of the Common Ground Country Fair, coffee sales were prohibited for a variety of reasons, including the fact that in 1977 no reliable sources of organically grown and processed coffee existed. Another strong consideration was the Fair's focus on Maine foods.

MOFGA's commitment to sustainable, organic farming is rooted in Maine but is not limited to our geographical boundaries. That spirit inspires MOFGA's El Salvador Sistering Committee, informs our policy work on food safety and other important agricultural and environmental issues, and guides our deliberations when considering what foods to serve at all MOFGA events, including the Common Ground Country Fair. (See MOFGA's Food Policy below.)

For the 2009 Fair, MOFGA is considering proposals to offer coffee from a variety of food vendors and organic coffee processors. We expect to invite one or more of these to sell coffee at this year's Fair. Among our considerations are that the coffee be grown and harvested according to organic practices, that it is processed in Maine, and that, accompanied by educational offerings, this occasion reflects MOFGA's mission to "illuminate for consumers the connection between healthful food and environmentally sound farming practices."

MOFGA Food Policy

The food offered at all MOFGA events embraces MOFGA’s mission “to help farmers and gardeners grow organic food, protect the environment, recycle natural resources, increase local food production, support rural communities and illuminate for consumers the connection between healthful food and environmentally sound farming practices.”*

The food offered emphasizes seasonally available ingredients. Whenever possible, the ingredients are produced organically in Maine. Ingredients not subject to organic guidelines are produced or harvested sustainably. Ingredients produced or grown outside of Maine reflect MOFGA’s commitment to support “sustainable, organic farming regardless of geographic boundaries. MOFGA is committed to building relationships, when appropriate, with farmers and movements who share our mission.”**

* Statement of Purpose, MOFGA Bylaws.
** Policy adopted by the MOFGA Board at its June 2007 meeting.

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 art, 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 our brochure provides more detail about the Fair, including directions and an overview of the myriad 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. We are now accepting submissions for the 2010 Fair. The selected art will be featured on the 2010 Fair poster, Web site, T-Shirt and promotional literature. The artist will be featured in this newspaper, along with a press release that focuses on the artist and the art. 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 7, 2009. For complete guidelines, including technical specifications, eligibility requirements and timeline, please visit the Fair Art link on the Fair page at or contact the Fair office at or 207-568-4142.

Volunteer for the 2009 Common Ground Country Fair

Share your skills or learn something new as a volunteer at the 2009 Common Ground Country Fair. We rely on hundreds of volunteers, contributing in myriad ways, to produce MOFGA's annual celebration of rural living. Whether you have a specific skill, experience in a trade, or simply an abundance of enthusiasm and creativity, there's a volunteer role for you with the Fair. Contributing in every imaginable way – from carpentry to commercial plumbing and electrical, from preparing meals to collecting and sorting trash, with Fair set-up on through cleanup – volunteers do just about anything and everything necessary to make the Common Ground Country Fair happen.

The 2009 Fair dates are September 25, 26 and 27. The Fair also depends on volunteers for set-up (September 18 to 24) and cleanup (September 28 to October 3). Individuals, families and groups are all welcome to volunteer at The Fair.

Volunteers who work a four-hour shift will receive a Fair T-shirt, Fair admission, and a delicious meal served by the Common Kitchen. Work additional shifts and receive additional meals and days of free admission. Most shifts are four hours long, but we also offer a few two-hour shifts with limited benefits.

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!

Want to see the Fair move toward zero garbage 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 more than 1,000 volunteers throughout the weekend!

Are you a night owl or an early riser? Safety and the Common Kitchen need help during “off” hours at the Fair. Volunteer early or late and enjoy the Fair during the day!

Are you a commercial electrician, plumber, painter or carpenter? Our site crew has a job for you!

A thorough, detailed list of volunteer job descriptions as well as volunteer guidelines and registration forms are available via the “Volunteers” link on the Fair page at Or for more information about volunteering at the Fair, contact the Fair office at 207-568-4142 or

Join the Planning Team!

Would you like to help coordinate some aspect of the Fair? The planning team has opportunities for you. We have openings for volunteer area coordinators, assistant coordinators and understudies in a variety of areas.

If you would like to take a leadership role in the production of our big annual celebration, please contact the Fair office at or 207-568-4142.