On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, September 24, 25 and 26, Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association (MOFGA) will host the 34th Common Ground Country Fair in Unity.

Food vendors serve up meals of Maine-grown and -raised organic foods; Maine farmers demonstrate their working animals; and a host of fair participants lead workshops and talks on organic gardening and agriculture, cooking, energy-efficient building, and environmental, health and social issues. MOFGA's 40+ acres include perennial gardens, orchards and a working farm. The complete schedule of close to 700 events is online at www.mofga.org.

Each day the fair features a keynote address:

On Friday, Kerry Hardy, author of Notes on a Lost Flute, presents "In Search of the Dawnland Diet." In his talk, Hardy takes a look at the way people once nourished themselves and a look forward at how modern Mainers can use that knowledge to move towards food self-sufficiency.

On Saturday, Woody Tasch, founder of Slow Money, looks at investment in local economies with his talk "Slow Money: Investing Because Food, Farms, and Fertility Matter."

On Sunday, Jim Gerritsen of Wood Prairie Farm will offer fairgoers his "Observations from 35 Years of Watching the Maine Organic Community Grow."

MOFGA's Public Policy Committee will host two teach-in panel discussions: "Organizing Opportunities for a Clean and Healthy Maine" on Saturday considers how Mainers are working to eliminate toxics; on Sunday the topic will be "Nipping It in the Bud: How the Era of Food Safety Regulation Is Affecting Small Farms and Rural Communities in Maine."

Some of the other featured speakers include Paul Tukey, founder the SafeLawns Foundation and author of The Organic Lawn Care Manual; Joann S. Grohman, author of Keeping a Family Cow, which, originally intended as a manual for keeping a family milk cow, also includes a lifetime of Grohman's practical experience and wit; and Maureen Heffernan, executive director of Maine Botanical Gardens and author of the book Native Plants for Your Maine Garden.

Films will be shown at this year's fair. Showing on Friday is "Meet Your Farmer: Eight Short Films about Maine Farmers," a series of films produced by Maine Farmland Trust. Showing on Saturday will be "A Chemical Reaction," Paul Tukey's documentary about the first town in North America to ban lawn and garden chemicals.

Dozens of Maine entertainers will perform in the Amphitheater, on the Spotlight Stage, and as rovers around the fairgrounds. The Children's Area offers activities (all free) for kids, and there is a stage with entertainment for families. A children's garden parade winds around the Common twice daily. All are welcome to don garden costumes and march.

MOFGA's Exhibition Hall showcases thousands of garden entries organically raised throughout the state, and a large farmers' market offers organic produce. The Agricultural Products and Farm & Homestead areas feature goods and services from Maine's farming and gardening community. There's a craft tent, a Maine Fiber Farms tent, an Energy & Shelter Area that presents environmentally friendly materials and systems for Maine homes. The Native American Arts and Education Area offers basketry, jewelry and other crafts of the Wabanaki, as well as educational talks, traditional dances and music. And the Youth Enterprise Zone, which happens only on Friday, focuses on the skill, innovation and creativity of Maine's young entrepreneurs.

The fair goes on rain or shine. MOFGA's Common Ground Education Center is on the Crosby Brook Road in Unity. Gates open at 9 a.m. daily. Fair admission is free for MOFGA members. Tickets for non-members are $10 for ages 13 to 64 and $8 for ages 65 and over. Children age 12 and under get free admission, as do citizens with handicaps. Additionally, a $2 discount is offered to fairgoers who ride their bike or take the train to the fair. For more information, call 568-4142 or go to www.mofga.org.