Land Trust works to engage youth at Community Garden
BY LIZ PIERSON
“Mine’s got dirt on it!”
“Mine has two legs, like a funny little man!”
The first-time carrot harvesters — two nine-year-old boys — squealed with laughter. They beamed, held their carrots high, and knelt down to pull a few more.
It was a beautiful August day at Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust’s Tom Settlemire Community Garden at Crystal Spring Farm. The carrot harvesters were 14 children and a few parents from Perryman Village Family Housing in Brunswick. Earlier this summer, with a grant from the Senter Fund, the Land Trust donated the lumber and soil for raised beds in front yards at the village. Land Trust staff and volunteers built the beds, and families helped fill and plant them with seedlings donated by several local farms.
Now, a group of these novice gardeners were touring the Land Trust’s own Community Garden. The group also picked peas, made their own wraps from local vegetables, and escaped the heat with a shady walk on a nearby Land Trust trail. Another group of Perryman kids had come to the garden in July.
For most of the kids, it was their first visit, but for a few, they proudly explained, it was old hat. In June, all of the first-graders at Brunswick’s Coffin Elementary School visited the garden to transplant 240 squash, pumpkins, and sunflowers they had started in their classrooms earlier in the spring. The squash harvest will be donated to Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program, and the sunflowers and pumpkins will be harvested this fall by Coffin students.
The new raised beds at Perryman Village are also producing food.
“They look amazing. And the kids are doing the bulk of the work in them,” the Land Trust’s Outreach and Education Coordinator Lee Cataldo said recently. “It’s so wonderful to see the kids so engaged and drawing their parents in with their excitement and pride.”
The project, now in its second year, resulted from a partnership between the Land Trust and Art- Van, a local nonprofit that promotes the arts in low-income communities.
“We started by doing some environmental art at Perryman, and the gardening idea grew from that,” Cataldo said. She sees the project as an opportunity to open new doors and share ideas about what can be done with a garden, by anyone. “Growing your own food is empowering. Every kids deserves to have that experience.”
The project also reflects the expanding role of the Land Trust’s garden as a community-wide resource. In addition to its 80 plots for community members, the garden includes a large plot where food is grown for MCHPP primarily by volunteers. This summer, Curtis Memorial Library is hosting a series of gardening workshops in their demonstration plots at the garden. One of the newest partners is Brunswick High School, which also has a large plot for the summer farm program it runs for at-risk students. With every new activity and workshop offered, the Land Trust believes the garden strengthens its ties in the community.
Cataldo expects the satellite project at Perryman Village to expand next year.
“There’s demand,” she said. “In the two days we were there installing the beds, a lot more families said they’d like one.” She also hopes to add more field trips, including to local farms and the Land Trust’s farmers market.
Now in its fourth decade, Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust strives to provide a diverse array of programs that serve the needs of as many segments of the community as possible. As for those young carrot harvesters? Cataldo smiled broadly.
“They’re great,” she said. “Some may become gardeners and some won’t. But all of our work with kids is an investment in the next generation of land stewards and a healthy community.”
For more information on the Land Trust’s Tom Settlemire Community Garden, visit www.btlt.org/community-garden.
Join us tomorrow, May 7 for the first Farmers’ Market of the season!
Our much-loved Saturday Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm property, opens for the season on May 7. The annual opening of the Market marks the return of spring and continued strong support for local agriculture.
This is the Saturday Farmers’ Market’s 17th year at Crystal Spring Farm. The variety of vendors and beautiful location have made the Market extremely successful, both as a place for people to get all that is fresh for the season from local growers, as well as to get together with community and neighbors to enjoy the remarkable space protected by the Land Trust. The Land Trust started the market in 1999 as part of its mission to promote local agriculture. We wanted to provide a low cost retail outlet where local farmers and producers could sell their goods.
“We are looking forward to another wonderful season at our busy Farmers’ Market. This year we are excited to welcome two new vendors to our stellar lineup: Hootenanny Bread and Pine Tree Poultry. We are also pleased to show off the beautiful artwork of local high school student, Galen Gaze, which is featured on our poster to promote this year’s market,” said Market Manager, Jacqui Koopman.
Early morning shoppers should take note: Vehicular and pedestrian access to the market will be restricted to vendors only until 8:30 a.m. when the market opens. No early birds, please!
This change was initiated last year and resulted in improved safety in the parking lot and vendor areas, and supported our vendors by allowing them sufficient time to set up their booths. Parking is always challenging at this Market, customers are encouraged to bike, carpool, take a taxi, come in their smallest car, and shop efficiently when the lot is full.
The Market is open every Saturday at 277 Pleasant Hill Road in Brunswick, between 8:30 and 12:30, from May 7 through November 5. Visit www.btlt.org/farmers-market to find out more about the Farmers’ Market.
This year we are excited to welcome Wrenegade Sports to Crystal Spring Farm for their 2016 Farm to Fork Fondo bike ride on August 28.
There’s no better way to experience gorgeous landscapes, diverse local agriculture and farm to fork freshness than from the seat of your favorite bicycle.
~ One of “10 Must-Ride US Gran Fondos in 2016” – Gran Fondo Guide
This event is a wonderful mash-up of farm tour, bike riding, and excellent local food. The ride starts at Wolfes Neck Farm, and includes everything from a short kids “ramble” to a professional-level fondo ride of 90 miles out to Pineland Farm and back.
A key aid station is at our Crystal Spring Farm, where hundreds of riders will be stopping through the day. (This is where you come in!)
The organizers of the ride have made the generous program to reward exceptional volunteer teams by donating to the non-profit that they represent.
We are hoping to establish a small team of volunteers to provide rider support at Crystal Spring Farm on the morning (or afternoon) of the ride. The team would be at the aid station providing water and snacks, and talking to riders about the region and Crystal Spring Farm.
At the end of the day the riders will vote for their favorite team, and based on votes each team will get a portion of donated funds to be given to their non-profit.
As Wrenegade says: “It is widely known that the success of any endurance sports event can be credited to the dedication, creativity and enthusiasm of its volunteers. In order to truly show our appreciation for the hard work of our volunteers, we’ve created a competition that will give them a chance to win cash prizes for local farms and charitable organizations of their choosing.”
You can learn more about the volunteer effort at www.farmforkfondo.com/volunteer-me/
If you would like to volunteer or establish a team, please contact Lee Cataldo or the BTLT office at (207)729-7694
We’re pleased to report that after a mild winter our marshmallow crop is going GANGBUSTERS!
These giant marshmallows – which are 8′ in diameter – will be used for our first annual Marshmallow Carving (who needs pumpkins?) and S’mores Festival planned for this July. This is sure to be an extremely popular event, so be sure to register early. Learn more by clicking HERE.