Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association

By Eric Rector
2002 MOFGA President

This past year, MOFGA worked hard to achieve long envisioned goals. Strong membership support, dedicated staff, and an unwavering vision of sustainable local agriculture resulted in great successes in 2001. A few notable items are:

• Our goal of 3500 memberships by the year 2005 has been achieved more than three years ahead of plan.

• We've raised more than 90% of our Capital Campaign, primarily through member donations, and the end is in sight.

• We proposed, sponsored, and helped pass truly ground-breaking legislation concerning genetic engineering in the Maine legislature last spring.

• Thirty years after certifying the first five organic farms in Maine, we certified 240 organic farms in the state, including a thriving group of Maine organic dairy farms.

• Our year-round programs at our Permanent Site continue to grow, symbolized by the success of the Great Maine Apple Day this fall.

• And 50,000 visitors enjoyed our 25th anniversary Common Ground Country Fair, the fourth at our own site, in pretty good weather and without any traffic delays, featuring an internationally renowned group of speakers who celebrated organic agriculture's success and illuminated the challenging road ahead of us.

Our shared success in demonstrating a safe and sustainable method for feeding ourselves and our neighbors is really exciting. According to the Organic Trade Association, organic products are the fastest growing segment of agriculture nationwide, and world-wide. As a result, the federal government has stepped in to create a nationwide standard for this important new segment of food sales. Chemical agriculture's last supporter is the straw man insisting that only they can "Feed The World." Our "alternative" is now accepted as an entirely rational choice ... which presents us with a great, new challenge. Now that custody of the word "organic" has been assumed by the USDA, our definition of a new agriculture broadens into ideas and projects as diverse as MOFGA's membership. From Eliot Coleman's concept of "authentic" food, to Jim Amaral's dream of the Great Maine Grain breadbasket, many worthy directions exist to channel the extraordinary energy of this organization. MOFGA will spend some time and energy in the coming years matching our vision and goals with those of our membership.

We need only look to the name of our organization to focus on what's important:

Maine: We are necessarily a local organization, and we should encourage local agriculture whenever possible.

Organic: Although the USDA will now define this word for certification purposes, it still represents the framework of sustainable, rational agriculture for which we will always advocate.

Farmers: We will continue to offer important resources to the people who raise food for the rest of us, from technical services, to educational opportunities and conferences, as well as to providing a voice in the legislature.

Gardeners: Gardeners of all types probably out-number farmers by 10 or more to one, and MOFGA must provide technical and educational resources for sustainable and safe practices to this important group.

Association: Our strength derives directly from the membership, who provide direct support in the form of donations of money and time, indirect support of our public advocacy, and without whom MOFGA would not exist.

Thank you.

MOF&G Cover Spring 2002