The Common Ground Fair starts today, one of the highlights of early autumn for me. Like many of you, I’ve been attending this event for years, since my now grown “kids” were small. Last year, my eighty-year-old mom and I traveled to Unity together and she helped me pick out two young hens from the poultry tent. I’d always wanted to buy chickens at the fair, to leave with “livestock” in hand, but it was a challenge walking back to the car as the nervous birds squawked and scratched in their cardboard box!
I feel like the fair is inextricably tied up with my memories of fall, in the same way the vines of my bean plants are tangled up in the tomato stalks. I love the great food (bloomin’ onions!) and healthy farm animals, the amazing produce at the Farmer’s Markets, and the lustrous yarn spilling from wooden bins. I look forward to seeing neighbors and friends, school kids and the sheepdog trials, but to me, what makes the Common Ground Fair so incredibly special are the educational exhibits and sheer volume of information. Years ago I was so inspired that I became a Master Gardener through UMaine Cooperative Extension. I did my 40 hours of in-depth training in the art and science of horticulture, but I’ll be the first to say that I’m not someone to turn to for gardening advice. Remember those tangled plants in my garden?
This year, I’ll be heading to the fair on Saturday. I’m planning to soak up information pertaining to agriculture and our state’s economy, looking for information on breweries, orchards, and small family farms. I’m looking forward to this year’s Public Policy Teach-in: Agriculture: An Important Piece of Maine's Economic Development Strategy. I want to learn more about the challenges facing Maine agriculture and areas where policy and investments can support economic growth and resiliency. That panel discussion includes the president of the Maine Farm Bureau, a member of the Southern Maine Young Farmer’s Coalition, and others, and takes place at 1 pm on the Spotlight Stage, in case you wish to attend.
At 2:30 pm, I will head to the Elections & Agriculture tent, where I’ll be available to answer questions and meet any voters. Please stop by if you’re able.
The farm landscape in Maine is changing. Maine Farmland Trust is doing great work in helping young farmers find affordable farms throughout the state, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association continues to lead the way in sustainable agriculture, and our hardworking farmers are toiling harder than ever to ensure we have the freshest and best food we can hope for. I hope to be a part of this change as your next Representative, and to support this important part of our economy whenever possible.
Just don’t let me come home with any more chickens!
Paid for and authorized by Vicki Doudera.