Taking Root Blossoms BIG

The return of the Taking Root Plant Sale this spring (after a Covid hiatus in 2020) was a huge success, breaking records both for number of plants sold and funds raised. This fundraiser is the Land Trust’s biggest fundraiser of the year and covers all of the day-to-day operating expenses for our Tom Settlemire Community Garden (TSCG), which includes 80 plots for community members, a large area where volunteers grow food for the clients of Mid Coast Hunger Prevention, as well as several community partnerships and research efforts.

Last Saturday morning, there were over 2,000 beautiful plants filling the Exhibition Hall at the Topsham Fairgrounds, and in just a few short hours all but about 75 of them were gone. Hundreds of community members came to the sale, with the checkout line extending through the hall by around 10 am.

But really, the most wonderful part of the morning, was the HUGE outpouring of volunteer support.

The sale is run by an amazing lead team who start their planning for next year just weeks after the sale. They oversee every aspect of the sale, from dividing and growing plants at TSCG, to bringing in and preparing donations from the community, to managing site logistics, volunteers, and so very much more. In addition to that, dozens of volunteers coordinate major areas of the sale – everything from parking to sales to trees and shrubs.

In the days leading up to the sale and on the day of, dozens more volunteers show up to move plants, set up tables, direct traffic, and the list goes on. Arriving at the sale in a crowded parking lot baking in the hot sun, visitors were greeted by smiling faces helping them find their way. The hall sported “plant experts” in yellow aprons helping buyers chose just the right plants for their yard. As you left the hall with a tray laden with plants, volunteers literally vied with one another to help you check out, while others pressed offers of help with carrying, and wagons for your load.

It’s really an amazing experience, especially when you realize that essentially every aspect was coordinated and completed by a volunteer, and every smiling face helping you with your purchase was a volunteer.

So, BTLT wants to say THANK YOU – to the community members that donated plants, to the community members that came to purchase plants, AND to the community members who have volunteered so many hours to bring the two together.

The sale isn’t “complete” when the hall is emptied, or all those roots are settled into soil. There are ripple effects that just go on and on, as the funds raised are able to support so much good at TSCG. For that we are particularly grateful.

*Photos by Burke Long

Fun in the Sun at the Tom Settlemire Community Garden

By Lily McVetty, Summer Intern

A group of students discovers some worm friends while working in the raised garden beds.

Hands dug around in the dirt, feet navigated through the Labyrinth in the Woods, and mouths smiled ear to ear under the sun. Rising seventh and eighth grade students from around the nation joined Tom Settlemire Community Garden plot holders, local volunteers, Regional Field Team members, and BTLT staff in completing an array of tasks at the Community Garden this past Tuesday. Students volunteer annually at the Community Garden though a teen adventure camp, Apogee Adventures.

Alex Perry from the Regional Field Team wheels a full barrow of weeds through the Community Garden (Lisa Martin, 2019).

This summer, students on the New England Mountains & Coast trip brought their hiking, kayaking, and biking stories to the Community Garden. When asked, “What has been your favorite trip activity so far?” some students claimed hiking in Acadia was the best, while others argued that sea kayaking in the MidCoast area was their favorite. Regardless of which outdoor activity was the most popular, it was entertaining to listen to their shared experiences. Occasionally, plot holders, local volunteers, Regional Field Team members, and I would contribute related, personal anecdotes. There was something special about having a wide range of ages and experiences working collectively. The diversity in backgrounds and positionalities planted the seed for the happy hum of conversation and work to grow throughout the Community Garden.

A special Thank You to Tom Settlemire Community Garden Coordinator, Lisa Martin for organizing and helping out with this event.