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From left, Bob St.Peter, founder of Food For Maine’s Future, and Steve Orlofsky, Director of Instrumental Music at George Stevens Academy, were each named a Citizen of the Year by the Halcyon Grange at a July 8 ceremony. “They’re both so deserving,” said Halcyon Grange Master John Gandy. “It was a tie vote.”
by Anne Berleant
On Sunday, July 8, the Halcyon Grange #345 of Blue Hill recognized Steve Orlofsky and Bob St.Peter with praise and plaques as “Citizens of the Year.”
“Across the country, each grange honors someone…in recognition of the contribution that person makes to the well-being of the community,” said Grange Master John Gandy. “This year we had a tie vote between two deserving people.”
The brief ceremony was called to order by a strike of a dinner knife against a pole, and 35 or so people took their seats.
First, Gandy presented St.Peter with his award, calling him “one person who has been key” in the efforts of promoting the benefits of local food and promoting young farmers.
St.Peter, a Sedgwick resident who operates Saving Seeds Farm, is the founder of Food For Maine’s Future, an organization that began in 2006 and works to protect local food sovereignty and “build solidarity and alliances between rural people in Maine and around the world,” according to FMF’s website.
After traveling to the Honduras with Sustainable Harvest International, a Surry nonprofit foundation, St.Peter saw that “what was being done in Central America needed to be done in Maine,” Gandy said. St.Peter credited poet Wendell Berry’s defense of the rural life with keeping him home out of grad school, “or becoming a lawyer—I added that,” Gandy concluded.
Although St.Peter declined a call to speak—“I make plenty of them; that’s how I ended up here”—after the ceremony, he said, “Any time you’re recognized by your neighbors, it’s an honor. I am humbled.”
The second honoree, Steve Orlofsky, is no stranger to awards this year. Director of Instrumental Music at George Stevens Academy, where he has taught for over 30 years, Orlofsky was named Maine Music Educator of the Year in May, by the Maine chapter of the Music Educators Association, the country’s largest and oldest organization focusing on music education.
“It takes a dual talent to do what Steve does,” said Gandy.
Under his tutelage, the GSA jazz combo has placed in the top three at the Maine State Jazz Festival for 22 years, and placed first 15 times, including this year, Gandy said, who shared one student’s comment: “Never have I seen a man so passionate about music and enthused about students.”
“I’m very honored,” Orlofsky said after the ceremony. “It’s good to be recognized by your peers, but it’s also good to be recognized by the community.”
Gandy said this was the first time in his knowledge that the Halcyon Grange named two people Citizen of the Year. While “we didn’t want to detract from either one” by the dual award, Gandy said, “They are both so deserving.”