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Meet MOFGA Volunteer Dusty Dowse

Dusty Dowse scything a field of rye at Albie Barden’s place. Photo by Patti Dowse

Dusty Dowse scything a field of rye at Albie Barden’s place. Photo by Patti Dowse

September 1, 2020

By Betsy Garrold

Harold “Dusty” Dowse likes to share his vast knowledge in a variety of areas, as his authorship or co-authorship of over 50 papers in the natural sciences and his 40-year tenure at the University of Maine in Orono prove.

These days he spends his time running his own bakery, Lammastide Bakers, in Cambridge, Maine; serving on the Common Ground Country Fair steering committee; and benefiting the Maine Grain Alliance as its education director and directing the Maine Artisan Bread Fair. For Common Ground, he is an area coordinator for bread baking, where 18 loaves at a time bake in a wood-fired oven bought with a grant from the Quimby Foundation and built by Maine Wood Heat. Fair volunteers enjoy the bread during the three meals per day served to them in the Common Kitchen.

Dowse started baking bread when he was in college. In addition to baking for the Fair and for his own bakery, he makes bread for the East Outlet Brewery, also in Cambridge, using as much Maine-grown grain as possible. He says he likes the old saying that you should drink the ale that is brewed within the sound of your factory whistle. That is re-localizing at its best. One of his favorite bread recipes appears in the Fair section of this issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

To have sat in one of Dowse’s lectures during his tenure at UMaine must have been a treat. He taught everything from math to cell biology to parasitology, and he waxes lyrical about his desire to “dance the information for the student.”

Asked about his interests other than science and bread making, the list is long: motorcycles, poetry, guns, martial arts, beer, mountain climbing and sailing. “I have studied martial arts for over 30 years,” he notes, “have my own dojo, and am a 3rd degree Black Belt.”

His past careers include being a cabinetmaker, short order cook, master electrician – and the hardest job he ever had: running a bulldozer, cutting poplar for $19 a cord, although he says this was the most satisfying work he’s ever done.

Dowse has attended the Fair since its earliest days. His friend Sam Brown introduced him to both MOFGA and the Fair. He says, “I enjoy the people at the Fair and the atmosphere there. Going to the Fair, when things get bad in the world, means you are with ‘your people.’ People who share a commonality of purpose.”

Of how things stand right now, he says, “If there is anything good coming out of these present trying times, it is that people are back to baking and gardening again.” And I am sure he would be happy to teach us all how. Or at least share a recipe.

 

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