by Kristen Farrell, Operations Assistant, MOFGA Certification Services
The 38th annual Common Ground Country Fair brought over 50,000 people to Unity the weekend of September 19-21. As fairgoers entered the grounds, they were greeted by the sights, smells, and sounds of a farmers market full of fresh, organic food and products.
In past years there was only one market area, at the Fair entrance known as the Rose Gate. Four years ago, after the number of vendors who wanted to participate outgrew the space available, Fair organizers decided to create a second market area on the other side of the grounds, at the Pine Gate.
A total of 36 vendors, all certified organic, greeted fairgoers at both entrances this year, giving the public the opportunity to meet farmers and producers face-to-face as they shopped and enjoyed their delicious finds. As for myself, I was on the hunt for a kohlrabi, curious to try a new recipe I had found in a MOFGA pamphlet. There were so many varieties of vegetables to choose from at each booth, it was hard not to get a little of everything.
In addition to browsing the markets, I was able to get to know several of our certified producers while volunteering at the MOFGA membership tent. JoAnn Meyers, of Beau Chemin Preservation Farm, shared my volunteer slot, and I learned a lot about her farm and the endangered breeds that she and her husband raise. Several visitors to the tent were farmers new to Maine, who were interested in finding out more about MOFGA and how to certify their own farms. I look forward to seeing their applications on my desk in the near future.
It was wonderful for me, as a new staff member at Certification Services, to meet our certified producers, most of whom I had previously only met over phone and e-mail. The energy of the whole weekend made me realize what an amazing community we have here, whether we are farmers, processors, gardeners, or simply those interested in living closer to the earth. As I left the Fair on Friday afternoon, my giant kohlrabi in tow, it reinforced for me the importance of connecting with the people who produce our food, of appreciating the land that it comes from, and of valuing this great community that I am now a part of.