Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Bennett Collins started creating the wood-fired Harvest Moon Pizza he'll sell at this weekend's Common Ground Country Fair last fall.
Bennett Collins, owner of Harvest Moon Pizza, tosses dough into the air. He’ll be one of more than 40 vendors selling organic food at this weekend’s Common Ground Country Fair.
Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer
Powered by the sun, the Solar Cafe serves an all-vegan menu.
Avery Yale Kamila/Staff Writer
IF YOU GO
COMMON GROUND COUNTRY FAIR
WHEN: 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Common Ground Education Center, Unity
HOW MUCH: $10; $8 for ages 65 and older. Free for MOFGA members, children ages 12 and under and those who are handicapped. $8 and free valet bike parking for those who bicycle to the fair.
GOOD TO KNOW: Bottled water is not sold at the fair. Instead, bring a water bottle, which you can fill at free stations throughout the fairgrounds. Pets are not allowed in the parking lots or fairgrounds.
That's when he sowed the organic garlic at his Broadwing Farm in Bremen that will be used in the sauce. During the winter, he spent time tracking down organic and Maine-grown ingredients, and more recently, he's been making sauces and dough.
At this year's fair, taking place Friday through Sunday in Unity, he'll offer pizza with cheese or maple garlic sausage toppings and a choice of tomato sauce or butternut squash sauce.
"We keep it kind of simple for the fair because it's a crazy three-day event," said Collins, whose organic pizza is a familiar sight to shoppers at the Rising Tide Community Market in Damariscotta. "It's a long, busy lunch time. A lot of people go to the fair for the food offerings because there are a lot of different varieties of food."
The Common Ground Country Fair, the major fundraiser for the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, has strict regulations governing ingredients used in the food served at the event. First, everything must be organically grown. Ideally, the all-organic ingredients should be grown in Maine. But if a particular ingredient is not available from Maine, or in the quantity needed, vendors can purchase certified organic products from out of state.
In years past, Collins was able to get organic cheese from a farm in Maine. But when rising grain prices forced the farm to supplement its organic feed with conventional feed, Collins had to switch to buying Organic Valley cheese, a national brand.
"Every year there are more and more ingredients produced in Maine," Collins said.
He also grew his own onions for the pizza and typically grows some of his own tomatoes for the red sauce, but late blight wiped out his crop this year, so he had to buy them from California. The sausage comes from Treble Ridge Farm, the squash is sourced from Sweetland Farm, and much of the whole wheat in the dough comes from Aurora Mills.
"I hope to be using all Maine grain next year because of the opening of the Somerset Grist Mill," Collins said. "Aurora only does a couple varieties, and everybody wants it. There's not enough supply."
While this will be the third year for Harvest Moon Pizza at the fair, Taylor Mauck, who runs the Solar Cafe, has been a Common Ground Fair vendor for more than a decade.
"The hardest part is really getting the quantities you need, because Common Ground is a large fair," Mauck said. "You can sell a bunch of food."
The event typically attracts about 60,000 farmers, gardeners and food lovers over three days to the rural fairgrounds, located three hours north of Portland.
The Solar Cafe, which powers all its blenders, juicers and refrigerators on solar panels, runs two booths at the fair and sells smoothies, juices, veggie wraps and coffee. In years past, the Solar Cafe been swamped with so many customers that it has run out of ingredients, causing Mauck to make a dash to the on-site farmers markets to restock.
During the rest of the year, Mauck travels around the country with his sun-powered Solar Cafe, selling food at major music festivals, such as Bonnaroo in Tennessee and Wanee in Florida. The Common Ground is the only fair where Solar Cafe sets up shop.
"We have alterative foods in the sense that we're all vegetarian and vegan, which really doesn't work at the other fairs," Mauck said, "where the Common Ground Country Fair concentrates on whole, healthy foods."
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