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 Keynote Speakers at the 2013 Common Ground Country Fair


Sandor Katz - Author of The Art of Fermentation and Wild Fermentation. Liberty, TN.

Sandor Ellix Katz describes himself as a fermentation revivalist. His interest in fermentation grew out of overlapping interests in cooking, nutrition and gardening. Says Katz,

"It started with sauerkraut. I found an old crock buried in our barn, harvested cabbage from our garden, chopped it up, salted it, and waited. That first kraut tasted so alive and powerfully nutritious! Its sharp flavor sent my salivary glands into a frenzy and got me hooked on fermentation. I have made sauerkraut ever since, earning the nickname Sandorkraut, even as my repertoire has expanded. I have explored and experimented widely in the realm of fermentation, and my mission with this website is to share information and resources, in order to encourage home fermentation experimentalists and propel more live-culture foods out into our culture.

I am a native of New York City, a graduate of Brown University, and a retired policy wonk. In 1993, I moved from New York City to Cannon County, Tennessee, where I am part of a vibrant extended community of queer folks (and many other friends and allies). I have AIDS and consider fermented foods to be an important part of my healing.

Since 2003 when my book Wild Fermentation was published, I have taught hundreds of workshops demystifying fermentation and empowering people to reclaim this important transformational process in their kitchens. I have presented workshops in more than half of the states of the U.S., as well as Canada, Australia, England, Scotland, and Italy. Venues have included universities, farms, farmers’ markets, conferences, bookstores, and community spaces."

Deb Soule - Avena Botanicals
219 Mill St, Rockport, ME 04856207-594-0694
Website: avenabotanicals.com

Deb is an herbalist, gardener, teacher and author of The Woman's Handbook of Healing Herbs. Raised in a small town in western Maine, Deb began organic gardening and studying the medicinal uses of herbs at age 16 alongside the internationally known medical herbalist Mary Bove. Deb's faith in the healing qualities of plants includes a desire to make organic herbs easily accessible to women and families living in rural areas.

As Deb's knowledge and faith in the efficacy of medicinal herbs grew, so did her desire to be of service to her community. In a small 8 by 10 foot room in her house, Deb began preparing various herbal remedies. In the fall of 1985, with her first mail order catalog and a small selection of herbal extracts and teas, Deb launched Avena Botanicals at the Common Ground Fair in Windsor, Maine. Five years earlier, while enrolled as a student at College of the Atlantic, Deb lived in Nepal close to three Tibetan monasteries. She was deeply influenced by the Tibetan peoples commitment to ease physical symptoms and mental and emotional upsets through plants, prayer and other spiritual practices.

Deb's passion for plants, gardens and healing and her commitment to sharing herbal knowledge with others is central to her work. She frequently is a guest-lecturer at various conferences as well as an instructor for botany and horticulture students, garden clubs, and medical students. In 2005, People, Places and Plants magazine named Deb as one of the 50 most influential gardeners in the Northeast.

Deb's life closely follows the yearly agricultural rhythm. From April through October Deb spends most days with her hands in the earth tending three acres of medicinal plants using organic and biodynamic practices. During the spring and summer months Deb teaches a variety of herb classes and offers bi-monthly herb walks in Avena Botanicals herb gardens. Throughout the year Deb writes herb articles, develops herbal remedies and consults with clients and health care providers.

George Siemon - CEIEIO and Co-Founder of CROPP Cooperative

Organic Valley, Organic Valley
One Organic WayLa Farge, WI 54639

One of the nation's foremost organic agriculture advocates for nearly two decades, George Siemon is best known for his leadership in organizing farmers and building market support for organic agriculture. His work champions an agriculture that supports family farms with a fair and stable pay price, humane treatment of farm animals, healthy soil and environment, and high-quality organic food.

In 1988, George joined a group of family farmers in Wisconsin to found the Cooperative Regions of Organic Producer Pools (CROPP). More commonly known by its brands Organic Valley and Organic Prairie, CROPP has grown to become the largest organic farming cooperative in North America while still remaining true to its local roots. The cooperative focuses on regional production and distribution, contracting with local production plants rather than building their own, which invests in local communities and farmers instead of “brick and mortar.” Organic Valley producers promote sustainability by farming without antibiotics, synthetic hormones, or pesticides. Their livestock herds feed on pasture, preserving landscapes and biodiversity for future generations.

As a part of Organic Valley or in his own time, George has greatly influenced the organic industry for the past two decades. Most notably, he was instrumental in developing the national standards for organic certification. He also initiated Farmers Advocating for Organics, the largest (and only) organic-focused granting fund in the U.S., which is funded entirely by Organic Valley farmer-owners; advised the USDA as part of the Livestock Standards Board; and currently participates on the boards of directors for The Organic Center and Global Animal Partnership.

In 2013, George was inducted into the Hall of Legends by New Hope Natural Media, organizers of the Natural Product Expos. In 2012, he was awarded the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Growing Green Award in the “Business Leader” category and the Social Venture Network’s Hall of Fame Impact Award in the “Environmental Evangelist” category.

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