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Keynote Speakers At The 2014 Common Ground Country Fair

Friday, September 19th, 11 a.m. on the Common

Chaitanya York, Founding Common Ground Country Fair Director

Listen to the keynote address on MOFGA's YouTube channel.

Chaitanya York, founding Common Ground Country Fair director and MOFGA's first executive director, will speak about the first Fair and about some of MOFGA's early accomplishments.

York compares the Fair with the hundredth monkey effect, in which an idea takes hold quickly once a critical number acknowledge it. "It was as if once we'd reached the hundredth monkey, the power of Victor Hugo's observation that 'Nothing is so powerful as an idea whose time has come' kicked in. The whole MOFGA membership owned the idea and started sharing it with the larger community."

The power of the Fair comes from its manifestation of 'right livlihood,' says York, whereby MOFGA expresses its mission and vision and serves it members and the greater community with a Fair that simultaneously provides the organization with 'right livehood income.'

York has worked as the legislative advocate for the Maine Consortium of Food Self Reliance; director of the Division of Resources Development at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources; director of development, executive dirctor and president and CEO of the Maine Conservation School. He served six years as a board member and membership chair, including two years as vice president of Friends of Baxter State Park. He's also a humorist.

Saturday, September 20th, 11 a.m. on the Common

Ben Falk, Founder of Whole Systems Design LLC and author of The Resilient Farm and Homestead

Watch the keynote address on MOFGA's YouTube channel.

In a time of multiple convening crises and opportunity, the work of land regeneration and resiliency is more urgent than ever. Fortunately, it's also maturing and becoming more visible with each passing year.

Ben Falk and Whole Systems Design LLC have been testing resilient water, food, heating and medicinal systems in the context of land regeneration at the homestead and farm scales for more than 10 years, developing models of ecosystem-enhancing landscapes that also yield human values. Their projects have tested the viability of rice in a cold climate, trialed dozens of relatively new and underused perennial species, spawned development of intensive microclimates for extended season production and helped push the boundaries of what's considered possible in stormwater infiltration and erosion-prevention/niutrient-capture in a working landscape.

Whole Systems Design has begun to prove that a production-oriented landscape can rapidly improve soil and water quality, enhance wildife habitat and absorb nearly all stormwater landing on a landscape while requiring ever fewer off-site inputs to function and be much more adaptable to the stresses of a changing climate. Such are the prospects and reality of perennial-based, highly diverse and integrated agricultural ecosystems.

Sunday, September 21st, 11 a.m. on the Common

Andre Leu, President of IFOAM and author of The Myths of Safe Pesticides

Watch the keynote address on MOFGA's YouTube channel.

Andre Leu is president of the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM), the world umbrella body for the organic sector.

Leu has more than 40 years of experience in organic agriculture and agroecology, from growing to pest control, weed management, marketing, post-harvest treatment, transport, grower organizations and developing new crops. He has extensive first-hand knowledge of farming and environmental systems in Asia, Europe, the Americas and Africa - and on his and his wife, Julia's, agroecological organic tropical fruit orchard in Daintree, Queensland, Australia.

He has written and published extensively in periodicals, conference proceedings, newsletters, Web and other media on organic agriculture, climate change and the environment, and the health benefits of organic.

Leu will speak about his book, The Myths of Safe Pesticides, showing that inadequate pesticide regulation is causing numerous human health problems, evidenced by hundreds of scientific studies. The Myths of Safe Pesticides outlines deficiencies in regulating toxic chemicals used on our food and proposes that many criteria underpinning current use patterns are based on outdated assumptions rather than on the latest published sicience. For example, most pesticide formulations sold are not tested independently for safety; the smallest amounts of chemical residues can be harmful; many pesticides are more toxic when they biodegrade; and regulatory authorities are ignoring a large body of peer reviewed science showing harm caused by pesticides. Finally, Leu says that toxic synthetic pesticides are not needed in farming, as organic farming can feed the world. 

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