Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Sarah Alexander, MOFGA Executive Director
Sarah Alexander
 

By Sarah Alexander, MOFGA Executive Director

Winter may be nearly upon us, but for me the lasting glow of this year’s Common Ground Country Fair has helped take the edge off of autumn’s chill. This was my second fair at the helm of MOFGA, and again I was in awe of the way our staff, led by Fair Director April Boucher, and 2,000 volunteers turned our campus into a destination for people from around the state and country wanting to learn more about sustainable organic agriculture, small farms, rural life skills and building community. I hope you were one of the nearly 60,000 people who came through the gates and sampled local organic foods, enjoyed a musical performance or learned something new. If not, I hope we see you at next year’s fair (Sept. 25, 26 and 27, 2020).

Watching the incredible transformation of our usually quiet campus into one of the (temporarily) biggest towns in Maine got me thinking about what it takes to come up with a big idea and see it through to fruition. Those responsible for the first Common Ground Country Fair over 40 years ago must have possessed a good deal of collective intrepidness, to envision a small organization putting on such a large event. But they saw the value, purpose and need for the fair, and they let their vision guide them through what were surely many formidable hurdles. Thanks to their foresight and determination, the fair has grown into one of the state’s preeminent annual events and has helped expose countless people to organic agriculture and other aspects of rural Maine life.

MOFGA is again looking toward the future with big ideas, and we’ll need that same kind of courage, vision and determination to tackle the challenges that await. At this moment we have an unprecedented opportunity to expand public awareness and understanding of organic agriculture, small farms and local food systems in Maine. We recognize the urgency of educating and adopting sustainable food production in an increasingly fragile world. Collectively we face the challenges of climate change; food insecurity; rising rates of obesity, diabetes and other serious diseases; polluted soil, air and water; declining rural economies and inequitable systems.

As we work to shift our economy from an industrial to an ecological and values-based system, Maine is in a unique position to manage its land in a healthy way: building soil that sequesters carbon; growing and producing food for New England; revitalizing its rural economies; restoring our health and wellness; and righting our relationships with agriculture in the interest of environmental, social and economic justice. But to move the needle on that broader food system, largely controlled by deeply entrenched corporate interests, we’re going to have to think big, act with courage, and persist in the face of challenges.

With that in mind, I’m excited to announce that the MOFGA board has just approved a 10-year Strategic Impact Plan that seeks to transform the way Mainers relate to their food. Imagine a Maine where you can stop at the corner store and get fresh, local, organic products that were grown by your neighbors. Imagine fewer people getting sick from what they’re eating or from exposure to toxic agricultural chemicals. Imagine our farmers helping mitigate climate change while making a good living that allows them to support their families and our communities. Imagine every child, regardless of race, religion, gender identity, geography or socioeconomic status, coming home to plenty of healthy, local, organic food.

We’ll start to implement this new plan in 2020, and we’re going to need your support in new ways, from recruiting your friends and family, to donating, volunteering your time, and much more as we work collectively to change our food system. I look forward to sharing more as we start to roll things out. In the meantime, as always, I encourage you to reach out to me with your ideas on how we can better support small farms, promote organic agriculture and grow the MOFGA community. Stay warm friends!