A few words from our founder, herbalist Deb Soule:
I first attended the Common Ground Country Fair in 1985, bringing along Avena Botanicals' very first mail order catalog. Having never had a booth at any kind of fair or event before that, I jumped in because of my commitment to making organically grown herbs and herbal remedies available to people living in rural places. I remember that during one of our first years there, Avena's booth was flooded by hurricane rains. We lost many books that were stored under our table. The next year, we brought herb books in plastic bins, which we still have, and my father made wooden storage racks to keep all our tincture boxes up off the ground. From 1985-2019, Avena had a booth at the Fair and I taught an herb class each day in the Herb Tent. The growth of the Herb Tent has been heartwarming; seeing more herbalists teaching and sharing their products has given me hope for a healthier future for our communities. I am grateful to all the people who volunteer at the Herb Tent and throughout the Fairgrounds, creating a vibrant and meaningful three-day event.
My love and devotion for the healing plants and for sharing herbal knowledge deepened over the 35 years that Avena and I were present at the Fair. I remember giving one of the Fair's keynote talks in 2013 and the tenderness that so many of us felt that year with the recent death of Russell Libby, MOFGA's director from 1995 to 2012. Russell did so much to support organic farming in Maine and beyond. When COVID happened in 2020, I taught an herb class for the Fair over Zoom. Avena, like other long-term vendors, took a pause during COVID to evaluate how we can be most helpful in the world. In 2022, we took a break from the Fair to see how not returning to the Fair would feel. After being at the Fair consistently for 35 years, it has become clear that the time has come for us to retire from being a vendor. This decision has not been an easy one for me, as I celebrate the positive energy and educational opportunities that the Fair offers to thousands of people. I enjoyed being part of the Fair all these years; teaching, answering hundreds of people's herbal questions, attending talks, eating yummy food, hearing how Avena's herbs have made a difference in so many people's lives, and seeing so many happy Fair-goers.
Thank you to everyone at MOFGA and to all our customers who, year after year, visited us at our booth. We will continue to be certified as an organic farm by MOFGA and as a Biodynamic® farm by Demeter. We are grateful that the Common Ground Country Fair is thriving and will continue to be an inspiring event for so many. We will continue to have summer garden walks here in our Rockport, Maine gardens along with herb classes and garden meditations. And our herbs are available here on our website, www.avenabotanicals.com.
The Avena Botanicals team at our Common Ground Country Fair booth in 2007