September 19, 2012

Natural Foodie: Uncommon pies for Common Ground Fair

By Avery Yale Kamila
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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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

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Powered by the sun, the Solar Cafe serves an all-vegan menu.

Avery Yale Kamila/Staff Writer

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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.

In addition to pizza and smoothies, the event's two food courts offer up 49 booths with an atypical array of fair food.

Traditionalists can find fair staples such as french fries and fried dough (all organic, of course), but foodies seeking more diversity will be pleased to discover gluten-free tacos, lamb kabobs, gyros, falafels, Thai stir fries, Indian curries, barbecue chicken, salads and lobster rolls.

Since the early 1990s, the fair's signature dessert has been the pie cone. Made with a crispy cone-like pie crust, it is filled with fruit or cheesecake and topped with real whipped cream.

Once again the fair schedule is packed with talks and demonstrations covering a wide range of food, farming and sustainable living issues.

"Every year it grows," said fair director Jim Ahearne. "Right now, there are 775 items in our schedule. With some duplicates and cancellations, there are at least 750 unique events happening over the three days."

In the cooking track alone, you'll find sessions devoted to everything from wine making and acorn flour processing to juice detoxing and gluten-free living.

The Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance is hosting the popular Seafood Throwdown on Sunday at noon. This year, Kerry Altiero, chef/owner of Cafe Miranda in Rockland, will compete against William Zyblot, sous chef at The SlipWay in Thomaston.

In this "Iron Chef"-style competition, the pair will first be given an underutilized species of Maine-harvested fish and a short window of time to shop at the farmers market. Then in front of the crowd and judges in the Country Kitchen, the two will see who can whip up the best dish.

For the second year, the fair's farmers market – the only all-organic farmers market in the state -- will include two locations.

Making it easy to grab farm-fresh food on the way out of the fair, there will be 26 farm vendors set up near the Rose Gate and 10 vendors set up near the Pine Gate.

A recent addition to the schedule is a talk at 1 p.m. Sunday by Kathleen Merrigan, deputy director of the United States Department of Agriculture. She helped develop the national organic labeling rules while heading the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service from 1999 to 2001.

The fair's first keynote speaker is New York farmer Shannon Hayes, author of "The Grassfed Gourmet," "Farmer and the Grill" and "Radical Homemakers," who will talk about "Unraveling Consumerism" at 11 a.m. Friday on The Common.

Famed four-season farmer Eliot Coleman will talk about how to make hoop house structures at 2 p.m. Friday. Opening day will also bring a screening at 5:30 p.m. of Deborah Koons Garcia's "Symphony of the Soil" film, followed by a question-and-answer session with Garcia.

Saturday's keynote address at 1 p.m. comes from Jay Feldman of Beyond Pesticides, who will discuss "Fifty Years Since 'Silent Spring."' This is one of many events at the fair celebrating the 50th anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring."

That morning, there will be a public policy teach-in event at

10:30 a.m. to address colony collapse disorder affecting bees around the world. At 11 a.m. on Saturday, farmer and author of "The Holistic Orchard" Michael Phillips will talk about his approach to growing fruit.

Skowhegan farmer Sarah Smith, who owns Grassland Farm with her husband, Garin, will talk about "Farming, Family and Community" in Sunday's keynote at 11 a.m. on the Common.

Chef David Levi, who is working to open a zero-waste, local foods restaurant in Portland called Vinland, will offer cooking demonstrations each day of the fair in the Country Kitchen.

Other multi-day presenters include Harvey Ussery, author of "The Small-Scale Poultry Flock," who will offer talks on whole systems poultry husbandry, whole systems gardening, using greenhouses and feeding poultry entirely from the farm; and internationally-recognized herbalist Gail Faith Edwards will deliver talks on "Herbs for the Digestive System" on both Saturday and Sunday.

With so many events to choose from, it can be a difficult task to remember where you want to be when at the fair. To help make it easier, an online calendar at allows fair-goers to create an account or use their Facebook account to produce a personalized schedule.

"The schedule's a little daunting," Ahearne said. "Everybody always says you can't go to it all."

While it's impossible to catch every happening at the Common Ground Country Fair, it's also impossible to leave the fairgrounds hungry.

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at:

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila


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