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Over the past year, about 20 MOFGA members from Piscataquis County and beyond have gathered periodically to explore development of a new MOFGA chapter. Attendees have a range of interests, from growing grains to small-scale and low-impact forestry, and all are enthusiastic about forming the Maine Highlands Chapter.

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Patty Ryan and David WestphalArdent MOFGA supporters Patty Ryan and David Westphal of Mount Desert have been coming to the Common Ground Country Fair with their extended families since their 1993 marriage. Since the late ‘70s, camping out and attending the Fair all three days had been a favorite fall adventure in Ryan's family.

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Danya Klie at the 2011 FairOver the decades, several MOFGA members have left gifts of money or property to our organization in their wills. Danya Klie, a consummate MOFGA volunteer who died in May 2012, joins those who have remembered us generously: She left her Belfast home and property to MOFGA to sell to a farmer or gardener.

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MOFGA has purchased a laser sign engraver, funded in part by the Davis Conservation Foundation.

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The U.S. Department of Energy visited MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center in February to inspect one of the solar photovoltaic sites that Efficiency Maine paid for with federal dollars.

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MOFGA is housing and maintaining three pieces of farm equipment for use by local farmers as part of a “Shared Use Farm Equipment (SUFE)” club in conjunction with Maine Farmland Trust.

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Jeremy Blaiklock, Judy Schuppien and Sally FeslerThe Sagadahoc chapter of MOFGA celebrated its 35 years of fruitful activities in October 2011 at the Chewonki Foundation’s beautiful Chapin Hall in Wiscasset. Russell Libby, MOFGA’s executive director, said that when he joined the MOFGA board, 10 county chapters existed. Now the Knox-Lincoln chapter is sometimes active; the Waldo County chapter holds regular meetings; Cumberland and York counties are reviving their chapters; but “Sagadahoc has been constant the whole time.”

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This year MOFGA celebrates its 37th anniversary, and the Common Ground Country Fair is 32 years old. We are solidly middle-aged, thanks to the youthful energy of our early founders, a $10,000 Kendall Foundation grant that helped establish our paid staff, a first Fair that was supposed to attract 2,000 and help pay the bills for a few more months but ended up with 10,000 participants, a dedicated and hardworking staff, and, most amazingly and wonderfully, thousands of joyful volunteers. Here are some highlights from our three-plus decades.

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One way or another, whenever September rolls around, I find myself at the Fair. Although I’ve never served as Fair Director or been on the Fair Steering Committee, I have had the privilege of participating in a number of different ways, and the good fortune of never missing a Fair. I’ve also been keeping a journal these past 30 years. Recently I took a trip through the dust on the living room shelf to reminisce.

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On March 9, 2006, Jerry Sass of North Anson donated his homestead and 75 acres of carefully managed forest to MOFGA. As part of his gift, Sass plans to stay on the homestead and manage the woods as long as he is able. MOFGA is to hold the property and continue to manage the woods according to Sass’ principles into the future.

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You may have seen the fun fact signs on your way to the Fair this year. These tidbits make great conversation and show the importance of our organization. Here they are for your pondering.

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At Peace Action Maine’s 14th Annual Peace Supper, which took place in February at Woodford’s Church in Portland, MOFGA received a very special recognition and honor. Peace Action presented its 2005 Peacemaker Organization Award to MOFGA, highlighting our work on and support of sustainability with respect to one of our most basic needs – food.

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On June 8, Governor Baldacci hosted a small meeting of MOFGA representatives (John Bunker, Spencer Aitel, Sharon Tisher and Russell Libby) and Department of Agriculture officials (Commissioner Robert Spear, Deputy Commissioner Ned Porter) to discuss possibilities for organic agriculture in Maine.

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O’Naturals in Portland offers the perfect break from last-minute holiday shopping, the perfect alternative to slow food during a fast-paced season, and a great holiday gift for MOFGA: On Monday, Dec. 20, [2004], from 4 to 8 p.m., O’Naturals – known for its quality, organic, promptly served food – will donate 10% of the evening’s proceeds to our organization, and customers will have a chance to enter a 50/50 raffle as well!

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MOFGA has joined a new coalition of Maine environmental, health and labor groups committed to reducing Maine citizens’ exposures to toxic chemicals.

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The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) received $7,500 in December from the King and Jean Cummings Charitable Trust Fund of the Maine Community Foundation to support MOFGA’s Helping Dairy Farmers to Enter Specialty Markets program.

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Beehive Collective MosaicThe Beehive Collective is offering MOFGA an unusual present. As a tribute to MOFGA and its contributions to agriculture, the Machias-based collective is designing a stone mosaic depicting contemporary agriculture at a critical crossroads. The mosaic will illustrate the history of agriculture and contrast the sustainable path that MOFGA practices and promotes with the unsustainable road of industrial, biotech-based agriculture.

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Volunteer Committees at MOFGA: How You Can Get More Involved in the Association
Board and Related Administrative Committees
• MOFGA Board of Directors
• Executive Committee
• Nominating Committee
• Finance Committee
Agricultural Services
• Agricultural Services Committee
Public Policy
• Public Policy Committee
• MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee
Fundraising
• Fundraising Committee
Educational Programs
• Educational Programs Committee
• Orchard Committee
• Low Impact Forestry Committee
• Publications Committee
• Events Committee
Common Ground Country Fair
• Fair Steering Committee
• Fair Food Committee
Buildings and Grounds
• Buildings and Grounds Committee
• Landscaping Committee
• Farm Committee
MOFGA Certification Services LLC
• MOFGA Certification Services LLC Board of Directors
• Certification Advisory Committee
• LLC Review Committee for Dairy Farms
• LLC Review Committee for Large Farms
• LLC Review Committee for Processors

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“I see a roomful of radicals asking you to act conservatively, and a few conservatives asking you to act radically.” Lisa Turner, an organic vegetable grower and president of MOFGA, elicited a roomful of cheers and applause with this remark at a hearing on a moratorium on genetically engineered foods in April.

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Steve Shuit and Marsha Greenberg from the Greenshoe GroupThis is my first official missive to the MOFGA membership since taking on my new position as Operations Director. I have absolutely loved my experience working on the Fair for the past several years, but am ready for new challenges and excited about the ongoing efforts to improve our day-to-day activities in the office, working with committees and reaching out to all of the individuals and groups who embrace MOFGA’s goals and ideals.

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The only thing that surpasses the superb information shared at MOFGA and Extension’s Farmer to Farmer Conference each November is the savory food. Or is it the other way around? Or, simply, the best of both?

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In mid-January MOFGA reached its $3.1 million goal in its first capital campaign! The support of nearly 3000 members and friends helped us do something we have dreamed of for years: create a permanent home and fairgrounds.

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Bob Sewall and Joseph Kipila• Maine Chefs Serve Scrumptious Creations at MOFGA’s Movable Feast
• Maasai Tribesman Joseph Kipila Visits Maine
• Join MOFGA’s Journeyperson Program
• Grow Your Own Organic Garden
• Last Row to Hoe – Only $135,000 left to raise in MOFGA’s $3.1 million Capital Campaign

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The new home of MOFGA and the Common Ground Country Fair, in Unity, Maine, has been made possible largely by the generosity of its members, and it is nearly complete. In 1998 we held our first Fair at Common Ground, and in 2000 we moved MOFGA’s offices into the main building on the site. In 2001 we welcomed our first journeypeople in residence at the brand new homestead.

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• 2002 Farmer to Farmer Conference
• First Maine Food Festival
• Heather Fisher and Daughter Fiona Join Fair Summer Staff
• Low Impact Forestry Management Workshop
• Maine’s Moveable Feast

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Over the last five years, MOFGA has grown substantially in membership, in the number of farms certified organic, and in influence in the world of agriculture. In response to this growth, MOFGA has built a home for itself and for its annual Common Ground Country Fair in Unity, Maine. We call it Common Ground.

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As Eric Rector wrote in his President's Letter, the incredible generosity of all of our supporters has enabled MOFGA to create its home in Unity. Since I began working on the capital campaign in September 2000, numerous MOFGA members and friends have offered their time, expertise and money to help complete the final phase of our campaign.

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MOFGA has just successfully completed its 25th Anniversary Common Ground Country Fair, the fourth fair that has been held at our magnificent new permanent Common Ground in Unity, Maine. I want to thank our membership for their generous gifts to the Capital Campaign that made Common Ground, a year-round learning center for organic agriculture, possible.

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MOFGA has wrapped up its busiest, and arguably most productive, legislative session ever. Of the seven legislative proposals on which MOFGA testified, five went the way we hoped.

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Four years ago, MOFGA embarked on the last legs of a journey, a journey to a new home for the Common Ground Country Fair. We made fast progress on the physical part – the infrastructure and buildings you see when you visit us in Unity.

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Thanks to EBS Building Supplies, Nancy Gray and The Harraseeket Inn, and many donors.

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In today’s global economy, supporting sustainable, locally-based food systems that respect and reinforce the integrity of rural communities is a monumental challenge. A visionary organization in the truest sense, MOFGA recognized the importance of meeting this challenge over 27 years ago.

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For many years MOFGA dreamed of creating a place that could serve as a permanent site for the Common Ground Country Fair, as well as a living classroom and demonstration center for tomorrow’s farmers and consumers. Thanks to the generosity, hard work and creative dedication of countless volunteers, individual donors, several companies as well as foundations, farmers, gardeners, and MOFGA’s staff, this dream has come to life.

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Waldo County Sheriff Robert Jones passed away on January 12, while fighting a house fire in the town of Unity. The tragedy also claimed the lives of triplet boys, Joshua, Marcus and Brydon White. "Jonesy," as locals knew him, had just turned 48 that day.

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Newman's Own will donate $10,000 to MOFGA this year, thanks to two MOFGA Members, Eric Rector and Sharon Tisher, who each were one of sixteen runners up in the annual Newman's Own Recipe Contest.

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• Modern Homestead Winner Selected
• Creative Cooks: Win Fame and Up to $50,000
• MOFGA Needs You!

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• 1999 Agricultural Trades Show
• MOFGA Board Elections
• Contacting MOFGA
• Thank You Rene Burdet!

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1998 Fair planPlanning the layout of MOFGA’s new site in Unity began in late 1996, when members brainstormed some rough plans, and began to define what the flat, featureless, 35-acre field and its surrounds would have to accommodate. The Permanent Site Planning Committee, led by Ellis Percy, set the agenda: Develop a plan to accommodate Common Ground Fair (and other fairs), MOFGA’s headquarters, a model farmstead (with fields and orchard), and large conferences and educational gatherings.

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