By Russell Libby, MOFGA Executive Director
Wow! The countdown to Unity has reached small numbers now. I hope you’ll all be pleased with the progress we’ve made in building a new home for MOFGA and the Common Ground Country Fair. Please try to join us in our celebration.
Four years ago the first committee visited the Unity site, and on that day we started to match a vision with a real place. Now, four years of work is coming together in a way that was hard to imagine at times. Between my time on the MOFGA Board and working on staff, I have participated in discussions about a permanent home for MOFGA for 15 years – and I came in years after some of you. I think the 1983 Fair was when we “bought an apple” on a plywood tree as a way to help MOFGA, for the first time, start to set aside money for the project. The idea of a permanent home seems to have grown from the success of the first Common Ground Country Fair in Litchfield in 1977, when people began to think about what would happen if we could do permanent displays. Now we’ve got the place, and the room, and plenty of time.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how MOFGA has grown and changed through the years, and, I admit, doing a little dreaming about the years ahead. If someone had dared to dream, in 1972, that in 25 years Aroostook County would be developing as a center of organic food production, that nearly 5% of Maine’s dairy farmers would be organic, that the number of farmers’ markets would grow from 2 to 50, and that a network of natural food stores would be selling local, organic foods, that would have been a big dream. But it happened.
Looking ahead, the Board has been talking about Unity as the hub of MOFGA’s educational programming, providing a place where we can come to learn and then take ideas and put them into practice on our farms and in our gardens. We’re putting together a package of events for 1999 to start that process. We want everyone who comes to visit, whether at the Fair or during the rest of the year, to have a chance to learn from what we’ve started and to be part of taking the next steps.
But Unity is just part of a solution that has to be based on that big dream that has carried us for the past 25 years: building a food system that supplies the people of Maine with quality, locally produced, organic foods; that keeps farmland in production; and that helps to keep Maine’s rural communities thriving. The next 25 years could see 10% or more of our farms and farmland managed organically, making connections with markets throughout the state and region. Your support and participation make those big dreams happen.
We hope you’ll join us for our first Common Ground Country Fair in Unity, and that you’ll join us often in the months and years ahead. Welcome home.