Annual fair to emphasize global climate change

Posted Sept. 19, 2011, at 9:12 p.m.

UNITY — The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association will emphasize the need for political, economic and environmental action on global climate change at its upcoming Common Ground Country Fair Friday through Sunday, Sept. 23-25, in Unity.

MOFGA’s annual celebration of rural living regularly offers hundreds of educational talks and workshops in the course of the fair weekend, and this year will host several presentations, a panel discussion and a large-group photograph-rally to help the public understand the significance of global climate change and what it means for Maine agriculture.

“In Maine we are experiencing generally warmer fall weather and earlier springs, later first frosts and earlier last frosts,” said Beedy Parker, long-time MOFGA member and policy advocate. “This gives us a longer growing season, but not dependably. Often the weather is extreme, and it is the extremes of temperature and rain, flood, drought and storm intensity, their frequency and duration, that really matter for growers and other Maine producers in natural resource industries.”

Vendors in almost all areas of the fair provide goods, services and information to help Maine people live more ecologically friendly lives and lower their carbon footprints. Each day of the fair, there will be informative talks on climate change, energy efficiency and practical changes that can address the problem.

MOFGA’s featured presentation on Climate Change will be this year’s Public Policy Teach-in at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, in the Spotlight Stage Tent. The Teach-in will address the overall effects of climate change, state legislative and planning responses, the specific effects on Maine agriculture and food production, and how communities can respond. Panelists will include Dr. Stephen Mulkey, president of Unity College; Dylan Voorhees, clean energy and global warming project director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine; Dr. John Jemison, University of Maine trustee professor for 2011, and water quality and soils specialist, Cooperative Extension; Andy Burt, community organizer and environmental justice consultant with Maine Partners for Cool Communities and the Eat Local Foods Coalition; and Dr. Lou McNally, longtime MPBN meteorologist,and former TV host of “Made in Maine.” A question and answer period will follow short presentations by each panelist. Sharon Tisher, who teaches environmental law in the University of Maine School of Economics, member of MOFGA’s public policy committee and past president of the MOFGA board of directors, will moderate the panel discussion.

After the Public Policy Teach-in, fairgoers are invited to gather on the Common at 3:50 p.m. to be in a large-group photograph to support Moving Planet, a worldwide rally initiated by 350.org to demand solutions to the climate crisis. The event and its lead up will be documented by a team of videographers from Unity College’s documentary film course led by Center of Environmental Arts and Humanities Director and professor John Zavodny. Fine art photographer Lisa B. Martin will provide photographs of the event.

The purpose of the association is to help farmers and gardeners: grow organic food, fiber and other crops; protect the environment; recycle natural resources; increase local food production; support rural communities; and illuminate for consumers the connection between healthful food and environmentally sound farming practices.

Common Ground Country Fair is a celebration of rural living that promotes organically grown Maine produce, alternative lifestyles, and a common ground for a variety of organizations. It features demonstrations, Maine organic produced foods and crafts and livestock exhibits.

350.org is building a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. Its online campaigns, grassroots organizing and mass public actions are led from the bottom up by thousands of volunteer organizers in more than 188 countries. 350 means climate safety. To preserve our planet, scientists tell us we must reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from its current level of 392 parts per million to below 350 ppm.

Transition Towns consists of vibrant grassroots community initiatives that seek to build community resilience in the face of such challenges as peak oil, climate change and economic crisis. Transition Initiatives seek to mitigate these converging global crises by engaging their communities in homegrown, citizen-led education, action and multi-stakeholder planning to increase local self-reliance and resilience.

For more information, call 568-4142, email mofga@mofga.org or visit http://www.mofga.org.

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