UNITY, Maine – Ted Quaday of Santa Cruz, Calif., will become the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association’s next executive director. MOFGA began recruiting for this position in January, conducting a thorough, nationwide search for an inspiring and visionary leader to advance the organization’s goals. Quaday will attend MOFGA’s Common Ground Country Fair in September and will officially start as executive director on Oct. 1.
Heather Albert-Knopp, president of MOFGA’s board of directors, expressed the board’s enthusiasm in MOFGA’s press release. “Ted’s experience in the organic agriculture and food systems movement at the local and national levels and his extensive background in communications at Farm Aid and other high-profile organizations will be invaluable to MOFGA. We are excited about the skills he will bring to our talented staff and the easy-going nature he showed during his interview. He will connect easily with our broad and diverse membership.”
An organic food advocate, Quaday has dedicated the past 15 years to working for family farms and sustainable agriculture. He is a former program director at Farm Aid, where he worked with family farm and good food advocacy organizations throughout the country.
“I am thrilled with this new opportunity to work with MOFGA’s members, its board and staff and its extraordinary volunteers to continue building on the organization’s rich legacy of organic advocacy in Maine and throughout the country,” said Quaday in a press release.
A former communications director at the Organic Farming Research Foundation, Quaday currently provides strategic communications services to advocacy groups working to build the food movement. He tweets at TQorganic.
Before dedicating full-time efforts to advancing the food movement, Quaday’s professional experience took him from work as a broadcast journalist to advocacy on economic and environmental justice issues and work for political campaigns in North Dakota and Massachusetts.
Quaday helped found the Farmer-to-Farmer Campaign on Genetic Engineering in Agriculture and served on the steering committee for the Genetic Engineering Action Network. He also co-chaired and served on the steering committee for the Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Funders group.
“I see MOFGA joining with other national leaders in the organic movement to continue working for the kind of systemic change that will enable everyone to obtain locally or regionally produced organic food in a timely and economically viable way,” said Quaday in the press release.
Formed in 1971, MOFGA is the oldest and largest state organic organization in the country. From its 300-acre education center in the town of Unity, MOFGA provides technical assistance to farmers, gardeners and marketers, and trains the next generation of Maine farmers. MOFGA’s main event, the Common Ground Country Fair, draws more than 60,000 visitors annually. Staff members and volunteers also host dozens of workshops, classes, conferences and other educational events in Unity and around the state. The organization runs a USDA-accredited organic certification program that certifies more than 400 operations. Through coalition work, legislation, teach-ins and reporting, MOFGA educates state and federal policy makers and the general public about the benefits of organic agriculture. MOFGA also has an award winning newspaper, The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener, and an extensive Internet presence.
“MOFGA has established itself as a leader in advancing organic policy that is beneficial to farmers and to those who enjoy organic food. I look forward to joining the MOFGA team to continue advancing the vision of locally produced organic food for all,” said Quaday.
Quaday will be the sixth executive director in MOFGA’s history, succeeding the late Russell Libby, who led the organization from 1995 until his untimely death in 2012. Heather Spalding has served as interim executive director since November and will resume her role as MOFGA’s deputy director when Quaday relocates to Maine.
“I’ll be back in Maine in time for the Common Ground Country Fair, and I can hardly wait,” Quaday said. “It’s MOFGA’s signature event and an opportunity for me to begin getting to know more of the farm, garden and food advocates who make up MOFGA’s extended family.”