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This February MOFGA lost a good friend and colleague, Joe Dupere, who died after suffering a heart attack at his home in Unity, Maine. He was 59 years old. Joe worked with MOFGA for nearly three years and most recently served as our database manager. He was highly regarded within the MOFGA family, revered for his easygoing manner and the friendly way he treated everyone with whom he worked.

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Q. You've been running MOFGA's organic certification program, MCS, for more than 10 years now. How has the program changed over that time?

A. Twelve years, to be precise.  We have more staff now, which has been essential given both the rise in producer numbers and diversity and the additional expectations from us by USDA in order to stay accredited. We have become more professionalized, in a good way, and definitely more digital. We've developed our own database for managing a lot of information and are doing more online and without paper each year.

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• New Common Ground Country Fair coordinator, Courtney Williams
• New administrative assistant, Laurah Brown
• Pheonix O’Brien, our new farmer-in-residence

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Shetterly and LibbyIf you’ve paid attention to any media outlet in Maine over the past couple of months, you’ve certainly heard that our esteemed leader Russell Libby is moving to a new job at MOFGA. At its October meeting, the MOFGA board of directors appointed Russell senior policy advisor.

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John ChartierJohn Chartier, MOFGA’s agricultural specialist for Aroostook County, grew up on a mixed crop and livestock farm in Kansas. John and his wife, Amy, worked on the Goranson Farm in Dresden, Maine, in 2006, the year after they hiked the Appalachian Trail. They are now developing a farm on Happy Corner Road near Patten. 

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Diane SchiveraI earned an associate in applied science degree in veterinary science from the State University of New York, Delhi, in 1975. I spent lots of time in the school’s dairy barn milking cows, and this began my love of livestock – cows in particular. I got a bachelor’s degree in animals sciences from Cornell in 1977 and a master’s in agricultural education from Cornell 1981.

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Renata Christen joined MOFGA this summer as Common Ground Country Fair assistant. Since moving to Maine last year, Christen has immersed herself in Waldo County's agricultural community, volunteering at Common Ground and working with Mark and Paula Fulford, Will Bonsall, and at New Forest Institute.

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Eleanor Salazar of Montville, the Common Ground Fair’s volunteer coordinator, answers questions from prospective volunteers and Common Ground Country Fair planning team members.

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Chris HamiltonChris Hamilton of Whitefield is MOFGA's new associate director, responsible primarily for fundraising. He will also help with organizational management and state-level public policy. Chris and his wife, Patti (MOFGA’s frequent chef and coordinator of the Common Kitchen), own an organic farm in Whitefield.

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Jaty GreenI started as MOFGA’s administrative assistant in 2008. In 2010 I started working full time in my current role as organic transitions coordinator. I am also a technical service provider through USDA NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) for the Conservation Plan Supporting Organic Transition.

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Eric SidemanWith this issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener, we begin a series of profiles of MOFGA staff members – beginning with our longtime organic “Extension Agent” Eric Sideman, who continues in that position, with a focus on organic crops.

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Andy McEvoyIn January 2012 MOFGA welcomed Andy McEvoy as its Low Impact Forestry coordinator. He will expand forestry-related learning opportunities and promote responsible woodlot management among the MOFGA membership.

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MOFGA welcomes Dave Colson, Gianna Short, John Chartier and Jake Galle.

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Joe DupereMOFGA has a new landscape coordinator, Joe Dupere. After 20 years at the University of Maine Orono, Joe and his wife Kyle decided to pursue a slower paced lifestyle, more in tune with seasonal cycles.

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MOFGA members voted in a new board of directors at its annual meeting on January 11. Barbara Damrosch, who has served on MOFGA's board for several years, is president.

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The voice you first hear or person you first see at MOFGA is, most likely, that of Emily Horton, our new administrative assistant.

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Congratulations to Melissa White Pillsbury, MOFGA’s organic marketing coordinator, on the January 27 birth of her son, Maxximus Byron James Pillsbury.

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Katie Webb is the new reviewer/inspector for MOFGA Certification Services, LLC, and Emily Horton is MOFGA’s summer assistant for the Common Ground Fair.

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Welcome to Joan Cheetham and Gwyneth Harris.

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Meredith BatleyMOFGA welcomed Meredith Batley into the Common Ground Country Fair office this past summer. She grew up in midcoast Maine and has been visiting the Common Ground Country Fair since she was a child in a backpack.

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News about Melissa White Pillsbury, Janice Clark, Eric Rector, Jacomijn Schravesande, and Kate Newkirk.

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Kacey Weber and Katy GreenIn July, MOFGA hired yet another amazing staff member: Katy Green is the new administrative assistant and the front desk person who will greet visitors to the organization.

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In mid-May, MOFGA’s office manager, Ann Haskell, moved on to a new chapter in her life. After three years of coordinating administrative activities in our headquarters in Unity, Haskell accepted a seasonal position at Lily Bay State Park where her husband, Andy, is park manager.

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Donna Doel started work as associate director of livestock for MOFGA Certification Services LLC in March.

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We were fortunate to have the great help of Grace Keown in the Fair office last summer.

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After coordinating the countless logistics of five Common Ground Country Fairs, Barbara Luce has decided to move on to new experiences and challenges.

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MOFGA is conducting a search for the next director of our signature event, the Common Ground Country Fair.

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April BoucherOur educational programs assistant Gemma Laser has taken an exciting AmeriCorps position – and we are happy to have April Boucher, another bright young woman, stepping into the position.

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Tina WilcoxsonTina Wilcoxson is the new board member of MOFGA Certification Services LLC. Wilcoxson, of South Portland, grew up in a Northern Maine farming community as part of a large family of potato growers.

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MOFGA now has two people working on marketing issues that affect organic farmers as part of our Agricultural Services team. Melissa White, currently MOFGA’s educational programs assistant, has begun working part-time as our organic marketing coordinator, and will transition to spending most of her time on this project after the Fair.

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We are very fortunate to have Abby Sadauckas as our new database manager. Sadauckas has taken the reins from Dawn Flanzer, who is going back to school. Thank you, Dawn, for all the great work you’ve done! We wish you success on your new path.

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MOFGA has hired three new staff members this spring. Vernon LeCount as Facilities Coordinator, C.J. Walke as our new Landscape Coordinator, and Michele Roy as a half-time Administrative Assistant.

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I have worked for MOFGA for a long time, but I usually let each anniversary of my starting date pass without celebration – because of mixed feelings. I really love the job of being the organic “extension” guy, and I have a great time working with all the MOFGA folks day in and day out. The mixed feelings occur only because I feel so young, and marking my anniversary with MOFGA exposes my true age.

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Melissa White PillsburyMOFGA welcomes Melissa White as the new Educational Programs Assistant, and welcomes Ann Frank as our new Database Manager. Meanwhile, MOFGA says good-bye to Dawn Flanzer.

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Stacie WhitneyStacie Whitney has been working as MOFGA’s intern this summer, focusing most of her energy on Common Ground Country Fair logistics. Stacie also works for Avena Botanicals in Rockland.

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Kathy NewkirkKathy Newkirk is MOFGA Certification Service’s (MCS’s) new administrative assistant.

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On Saturday, December 13, [2003], Royal River Natural Foods at 443 U.S. Route 1 in Freeport will donate 5% of its sales to Laughing Stock Farm to help raise money to rebuild the barn lost in a fire in September.

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Andrew MarshallMOFGA welcomed Andrew Marshall, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Santa Cruz, as its new Educational Programs Director this fall.

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In June, MOFGA welcomed Judi Gardner as its Membership & Development Director.

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Heather Fisher• Heather Fisher, MOFGA’s new Administrative Assistant
• Fair Director Barbara Luce
• Debbi Kipp, Educational Programs Assistant
• Sarah Bullett, MOFGA’s new journeyperson

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Our best wishes and sincere appreciation go out to Susie O’Keeffe, who really got the ball rolling on all of MOFGA’s organizational development work.

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Mary YurlinaMary Yurlina, MOFGA Certification Services, LLC, Coordinator, holds a B.S. in Conservation and Applied Ecology and a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution from Rutgers.

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Susan PierceFourteen years ago, Susan Pierce decided to leave the sun of California and return to the state of her childhood. Back in Maine, she began a new career as Director of a small, organic festival in Windsor, Maine. In the 10 years of Susan's turn as Common Ground Country Fair Director, attendance grew to upwards of 50,000 people and the Fair abandoned its transient past for a permanent home in Unity.

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Kelley GliddenMOFGA was extremely fortunate to have the volunteer help of Kelley Glidden this summer. Kelley, a third-year law student at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law in Tucson, spent two and a half months working with the MOFGA staff on a wide range of projects.

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Kristin Stone and Rusty SuggThe Common Ground Country Fair office is grateful for the help of summer intern Kristin Stone. We couldn’t have managed all of the mailings, phone calls, volunteer registration forms, writing, editing, cleaning, special events and, yes, wet diapers without her!

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Kit Whited• Kit Whited – Office Assistant
• Linda Knowles – Secretary/Receptionist
• Diane Schivera – Program Assistant

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