It’s always the third weekend after Labor Day, in the waning beauty of September, this vast celebration of the harvest in Unity. It’s part farmer’s market, part free speech zone, part family reunion picnic, part sustainable living expo, with a lot of a good old- fashioned country fair thrown in for good measure.

You can buy yarn from Maine people who raise the sheep or goats or rabbits and spin the fiber, sometimes right before your eyes. You can listen to a speech about increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. You can learn about how to build a chicken coop. You can listen to a debate about the best way to insulate your basement or sign up for a site assessment for solar panels. You can watch Native Mainers build a birch bark canoe. You can get a wholesome cup of lemonade made with real honey. You can learn to save seeds from year to year, thresh your own rye, join a harvest dance, listen to a fiddle duet, and if you’re small, you can dress up as a vegetable and have a parade. And on your way home, you can buy a sackful of apples or a prime pumpkin to make a pie.



There’s no midway with carnival rides, although you might be able to ride a pony or take a tractor- drawn cart to the parking lot. There’s no Coca- Cola; no corn dogs dipped in mustard, no saltencrusted soft pretzels (although you might be able to find some honeydipped whole wheat ones somewhere). Everything is sustainably grown, and organic, and virtuously good for you. Or mostly, anyway.



It’s the Common Ground Fair, and it is an annual pilgrimmage for sustainable growers and organic farmers around the world. It is a place for people who are always ready for something new, and who want to be inspired at the Common Ground Fair, which is run by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, or MOFGA.

It’s a place to resolve to do more, or do better, for yourself and the planet.



Buy a mason bee house and resolve to attract bees to your garden. That means you’ll have to stop using poisons, so resolve to learn how to compost and non-toxic pest controls. Stop by the fiber booths and buy a skein of yarn and resolve, this winter for sure, to learn to knit a scarf.

Wander over to the shelter and energy section, and resolve to get off fossil fuels. While you’re there, it’s OK to lust, a little, after the wood-burning cedar hot tub that you lust after every year, but buy a solar clothes dryer to start your adventure, or schedule a visit from someone who can show you how to install a wood pellet boiler to replace your oil furnace.

Then it’s time for another lemonade, and a rest, watching the parade of little vegetable sprouts go by, while listening to a distant fiddle and guitar duet somewhere over by the birch bark canoe builder. The sun drifts across the southern sky toward the west, and you can buy a crisp organic Macintosh apple to eat on your way home.

Another year, another Common Ground Fair. If you haven’t yet been, go this year. It’s going to be a beautiful weekend.

The Common Ground Fair is held at the MOFGA campus on September 19, 20 and 21. Gates open at 9 a. m. each day, and vendors are open until 6 on Friday and Saturday, and 5 on Sunday.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: