THANK YOU to Coastal Enterprises Inc (CEI) for all the hard work they did for us yesterday afternoon! Their volunteers cleared invasives, picked up trash, harvested carrots, cleared some giant sunflowers from the community garden, and planted native plants for next spring’s plant sale.
On a recent Saturday morning, our friends at Casco Bay Wealth Advisors came to the Community Garden to help us by putting the Tom Settlemire Community Garden to bed for the season. The volunteers cleared garden paths, weeded overgrown plots and spread fresh wood chips.
We greatly appreciate our everything that our local businesses do for us, and thank you Casco Bay Weath Advisors for helping to put the “community” in our Community Garden!
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.
120 First Graders plant seedlings for their community.
Taking advantage of recent a rare sunny day, six first grade classes from Coffin Elementary School set off on foot for Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust’s Tom Settlemire Community Garden (TSCG). Their goal was to transplant approximately 240 squash, pumpkin, sunflower and nasturtium plants that they had seeded earlier in the spring. With this goal in mind, along with the opportunity for outdoor, experiential learning, they dug into this task with gusto.
TSCG is located on Crystal Spring Farm, a property owned and managed by the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust. Through the Garden, the Land Trust strives to provide intergenerational gardening opportunities, increase the availability of locally grown food for area food pantries, and offer experiential gardening opportunities for the community.
With the help of a dedicated crew of volunteers, the young students transplanted all of their seedlings into the Garden. The squash harvest will be donated to Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program, while the pumpkins and sunflowers will be harvested for further study by Coffin Students in the fall.
Staff from the Land Trust, Nikkilee (Lee) Cataldo and Caroline Elliot, were on hand to give tours of the Garden, including the composting and solar powered watering facilities that are on site. “We love having kids in the Garden!” said Cataldo. “It is import to our mission as a land trust to have young folks get their hands dirty doing something good for the community, and to just enjoy the natural beauty of this amazing community asset.”
As this school year nears its end, students were able to stay engaged in their learning while participating in a service project for their community. First graders have spent time this spring learning about plant life cycles, plant parts, and growing requirements. Coffin teachers appreciated the opportunity for their students to experience the next phase in the gardening process by transplanting the plants they had grown in the classroom. Most students enjoyed digging in the dirt and finding earthworms, but eating watermelon was a unanimous success. First grader Sylus Pillsbury beamed as he said, “This is really fun!”