Yours truly has just celebrated a birthday.

This one was a milestone year and I was eyeing it a little dubiously when I discovered to my great joy that I share this particular milestone with one of my most favorite organizations, the Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association – MOFGA to its friends.

Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at [email protected]

MOFGA was born out of the “back-to-the-land” movement, a time when people from all over the nation moved to Maine to experience a simpler way of life, reconnect to nature and carve out a more genuine life.

I often wish I had been there to be a part of it. Intellectually, I know there was a lot wrong with that time (understatement, I know). But in my imagination, I’m right there, sitting around a scrubbed wood table, drinking herbal tea out of a hand thrown mug, sharing conversation with Helen and Scott Nearing.

For many years, my home was a tiny cabin, snug in the woods, off the grid and with only wood for heat. I loved it.

These days my home has more modern conveniences, but my intentions remain the same. I do my best to tread lightly, remain connected and not lose sight of how my choices impact my fellow humans and the planet.

This is part of why I have been a member of MOFGA for years.

MOFGA is an active organization. They offer a robust array of trainings on subjects such as pest management, livestock, orchards, gardening, forestry and more. They provide farmers and land stewards with resources on best practices, legislative action and financial resources.

Most people, of course, know MOFGA from the fair. The Common Ground Fair has been a staple of Maine’s harvest season since 1977 when it was held at the Litchfield Fairgrounds, moving around the state until it settled in at its permanent home in Unity in 1998.

Through Common Ground, I have learned gardening tips, ratcheted up my compost skills and bought more than my fair share of hand-knit sweaters and beeswax candles. Some of the absolute best times with my kids were taking them through the animal barns.

The fair is beloved. Whether you go for the workshops, the animal sheds, the produce displays, the sheepdog demos or the amazing food, the fair is always a great time – one we will have to wait a little longer for. The 2021 fair, like the 2020 fair, has been canceled due to COVID.

I am disappointed, yet I applaud this decision. I imagine it was an agonizing one to make.

The fair is more than a fundraiser for MOFGA. Farming is a hard life. The hours are long, there are no vacations and the outcome is uncertain. For hundreds – thousands – of years, celebrations of the harvest have provided a time for farming families to gather, laugh, swap stories and renew the bonds that keep the community strong. The loss of the fair is a loss indeed.

Nevertheless, it seems to me that in canceling the fair, MOFGA is setting an example of living the values they put forth. The numbers are rising, our communities are at risk, and as MOFGA stated, “In the end, we feel this large-scale community building event should not take place in the current COVID-19 situation.”

I’ll be doubling up my MOFGA donation this year, renewing my CSA with my local MOFGA-affiliated farm and dreaming of next summer in hopes of honey-laced lemonade by the cattle barns once again.

Stay safe everyone, better days are coming.

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