Saturday Farmers Market Opens May 1 at Brunswick Landing
We are heading into our second market season under the influence of the COVID pandemic. The 2020 market season involved two moves and a complete revamp of how the Market operates. As we head into 2021, we will again be operating in a temporary home in order to allow for physical distancing and other safety protocols that are not possible at Crystal Spring Farm. Wild Oats, Flight Deck, the REAL School and TBW, LLC have welcomed us back to Brunswick Landing at their shared parking lot.
We are excited to report that most of the vendors are returning this season, though a few are choosing to wait another year due to COVID, and some because they have shifted away from the market model. One market booth has been transitioned into a rotating booth to better accommodate some of our vendors who are unable to commit to the full season, as well as to support new or smaller scale food businesses as they build.
Welcome back to all the returning vendors, welcome to our two new vendors, and a fond farewell to those not returning this season!
By Lily Hatrick,
Brunswick High School Student and 2020 Common Good Garden Intern
In an ongoing effort to support food access in greater Brunswick, the Common Good Garden (CGG) was able to donate 3,779 pounds of organic produce, despite Covid, a drought, and crop loss. The CGG, started in 2012 in partnership with Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program (MCHPP), is part of the Tom Settlemire Community Garden (TSCG), run by the Brunswick-Topsham Landtrust (BTLT). In order to grow this food they depend on the engagement of TSCG community volunteers to plant, grow, care for, and harvest crops.
BTLT is a land trust that protects land in the Brunswick and Topsham area. They own Crystal Spring Farm and also run one of the largest summer farmer’s market in the state of Maine. Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program is a food access program that has been working in our community for nearly thirty years. They serve around 7,000 meals a week to people in need.
Over the course of the gardening season, the CGG had many accomplishments:
- The largest amount of produce to date was donated to MCHPP through the CGG.
- The volunteer crew was strengthened by a group of high schoolers and an internship position was created that high schoolers will be able to apply for in future years.
- Overall, the number of volunteers was also much larger this year than it has been in years past. This larger crew was able to tackle expanding the garden.
This season yielded the largest amount of produce donated to MCHPP to date. It was not an easy road to this accomplishment, as any member of the volunteer crew would tell you. There were both late and early frosts and some seedlings did not make it. The crew approximates that between 400 to 1,000 lbs of produce were lost. This summer was a very dry one, with exceedingly warm temperatures and little rainfall.
“There were times I would water a row and have to stop to go fill up the watering cans and come back and not know where I had already watered because it dried up/soaked in so fast!” says Jen Kennedy, CGG volunteer. Her help on the weekends was especially important because “we couldn’t rely on mother nature” she added.
This year’s volunteer crew leader Dev Culver also noted that “In the early part of the season the lack of rain along with issues with the irrigation system stunted the initial growth of the onion crop.” The volunteers had to deal with both a lack of rainfall but also faulty irrigation, making hand watering the only dependable option. Culver feels that, “Without the extra hands that we had, I don’t believe we would have been able to keep up with the lack of rain.”
Another obstacle that the members of the volunteer crew had to overcome was the pandemic. All volunteers wore masks and gloves for all of the work sessions and all tools were disinfected once they were done being used. The masks may have made the hot days hotter but, the hurdle united the crew even more.
The pandemic had a silver lining: The core group of volunteers expanded. Dev Culver remarked that the pandemic brought more people to the garden instead of keeping people home. “There were more volunteers available and interested in working on the CGG mission because the pandemic cut down on the availability of other activity options.” Kennedy found that she had more “free time” and wanted “a way to get involved in the community and volunteer” during this pandemic. Kennedy was not alone in this feeling as the volunteer crew grew this year.
In addition, the crew was joined by four high schoolers this year.
As schools closed in the early spring, the CGG was blessed by having several Brunswick High School students dedicate some of their free time to volunteering in the garden. Ultimately, they were able to create an internship with BTLT which hopefully means that a connection between TSCG can continue to grow for years to come.
Lydia Blood, Fiona Edmonds, Kate Shaughnessy, and Lily Hatrick became members of the core crew. Although none of them had prior knowledge, Culver notes that “their collective enthusiasm and willingness to work hard regardless of the assignment made the experience of volunteering so much more fun and rewarding.” Longtime volunteer and CGG cofounder Judith Long said it was a “pleasure” to be joined by the high schoolers.
This year was different from years past in other positive ways, too. The CGG has four main beds as well as a large back garden that was newly cultivated by CGG this season.
The addition of the back garden doubled the growing space for the CGG, adding about 5,000 square feet. The entirety of it had to be turned, mulched and prepared so that crops could be planted.
Not only did the poundage increase with this new area, the type of produce expanded as well. Culver says that the back garden “changed the original intended focus on storage crops and resulted in a markedly expanded crop variety.” In this garden the crew grew tomatoes, melons, zucchini, broccoli, peppers, cucumbers, and some squash. The back garden alone produced 681.7 lbs of the total produce donated. “None of these additional crops would have been possible if the CGG effort had remained anchored in the four front garden beds during 2020.” The CGG was also blessed by the donation of many seedlings, including from BTLT business partner Whatley Farm.
Because of the enthusiasm and grit of this year’s volunteer crew, the CGG was able to take on some new projects in addition to the expanded Common Good Garden. This year a pollinator garden and a hoop house were added to TSCG, and a plastic mulch experiment was conducted in the tomato bed. The pollinator garden serves as a pollinator-attractor bringing in insects such as bees and butterflies, but also moths, birds and bats. The hoop house has long been something that the volunteer crew wanted to tackle, but in prior years hasn’t had the resources. The hoop house will allow the Common Good Garden to produce early and late season greens for MCHPP, something they historically have not had access to.
MCHPP Foodbank Manager Ryan Ravenscroft says, “the Common Good Garden volunteers do an amazing job growing great produce for MCHPP to distribute within the community. We are very excited for the timely growing capacity the hoop house will provide, allowing the volunteers to grow much needed and appreciated greens and other produce during the shoulder seasons.” Culver and the crew are using kale plants this winter as a trial run and plan to expand the contents of the hoop house in future years.
In a stressful and scary year, the CGG and its crew were able to find some calm and fun moments while gardening. With the overarching goal of donating as much fresh and organic produce as possible, they worked with tricky weather and COVID precautions to make this year as successful as possible. Their multigenerational energy fueled a great season; one where the garden was able to grow and expand. The expansion led to more produce donated. The larger number of regular volunteers allowed for both a pollinator garden and a hoop house to be built. Both of these will be incorporated at the TSCG for years to come. The volunteer crew of the CGG had a great time this summer and cannot wait to do it all again next summer!
Every winter, BTLT offers a series of workshops to engage with the community, support the Tom Settlemire Community Garden, and offer skill-building exercises for gardeners of all abilities. These workshops are a wonderful opportunity to learn from master gardeners and experts on a variety of gardening subjects. BTLT is proud to partner with Curtis Memorial Library for this event series.
*All series events will be virtual (via Zoom). Please check our Events Page for more information.
2021 Winter Garden Workshop Schedule
Gardening for Small Spaces: Feb 7th, 1:00-2:30pm
Food Forest Gardening: Feb 21st, 1:00-2:30pm
Pollinator Gardening: Mar 14th, 1:00-2:30pm
Gardening for Plant Based Diets: Mar 21st, 1:00-2:30pm
2021 Winter Garden Workshop is kindly sponsored by Camden National Bank
By Sandy Scott, November 6th, 2020
Consider your eyes: set just above your nose, less than two inches apart, designed to zero in on what’s before you. There she is, nostrils working, tail twitching, taking one cautious step at a time, eyes wide to her head’s sides, designed to know what’s all around.
You and this deer are complements of aimed and spread awareness: predator and prey. You are hunting, and your prey is not the slow, shrink-wrapped meat of a supermarket aisle.
Whether we choose to hunt or not, we are of this relationship; it is part of our design. We are, of course, descendants of eons of hunter-gatherers, who found both a living and a place in a natural world tucked full of such relationships. Our social organization turned us into apex predators, and as we grew numerous, we chased other predators (see wolves or lions, e.g.) away.
During hunting season, common wisdom holds that hunters are filling an old role. Less common is an understanding of how vital hunting is to our valued, conserved, and agricultural lands.
In my last column, I wrote of tagging along with a local bowhunter as he looks for deer. To deepen my understanding of the role of hunting in our eco-system, I turned to a number of familiar and new writers, among them Leopold, Thoreau, Dillard. What’s grown in me, as a result, is an appreciation for the ways hunters know and value the land they walk.
My October example came from nearby Crystal Spring Farm, a more than 300-acre mix of farm and forest owned by the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust and farmed on over 100 of those acres by Seth Kroeck and Maura Bannon’s family.
From September 26th– October 31st it will be located on Brunswick Landing in the parking lot off Pegasus Street shared by the REAL School, Flight Deck Brewing and soon to be Wild Oats at their new location: the address is 11 Atlantic Ave.
The Land Trust moved the Market from its usual location on Crystal Spring Farm, to the Brunswick High School parking lot at the start of the market season in May. This was to ensure adequate space between vendors and space for customers to spread out, keeping everyone safe while COVID-19 poses a risk to community health. The Land Trust and the High School had hoped to keep the market at the High School for the full market season, but in order to safely offer school sports the High School will need to use their parking lots on Saturdays which conflicts with the market.
“We saw this as an opportunity to temporarily host the market near our new offices on Brunswick Landing, and contribute to develop the Landing as a community space” says Angela Twitchell, Executive Director of the Land Trust. The Land Trust reached out to TBW, LLC, Flight Deck Brewing, Wild Oats and The REAL School about the possibility of using the lot they share and everyone was enthusiastic. “We are excited to welcome one of the largest farmers’ markets in the state of Maine to Brunswick Landing. Showcasing our growing neighborhood in the town of Brunswick to the thousands of people who take advantage of the market each week is an enormous opportunity, and we are grateful for the Brunswick–Topsham Land Trust’s leadership” says Nate Wildes, Managing Partner of Flight Deck Brewing. Wild Oats is similarly looking forward to more people coming to The Landing, “ while we won’t be moving to Brunswick Landing until late 2020, we are excited people will get a glimpse of our new building and experience the vibrant Brunswick Landing community” says Marshall Shepard of Wild Oats.
While moving the market twice in one season isn’t ideal, and can be confusing for customers, it has been necessary to keep everyone safe during the pandemic. The location on Brunswick Landing allows for distancing between vendors and customers, and abundant parking around the market area. “We are fortunate to have such amazing vendors at our market” says Jacqui Koopman, Market Manager for the Land Trust “they have been very understanding as we have worked to make the Market safe this season”.
Our summer intern, Dylan Sloan, worked tirelessly on the trails, in the Community Garden, on our blog, and more throughout the summer. While it could have been an odd summer with a global pandemic and social distancing, Dylan certainly made the most of it, stayed positive, and worked hard throughout his time with us. Thank you, Dylan, for all of your hard work!
Summer Intern Gets His Hands Dirty with Local Land Trust
By Tom Porter
August 21, 2020
Dylan Sloan ’22 admits he got “really lucky” with his summer internship. “To a large extent, much of the work I’m doing is outside and therefore unaffected by the pandemic and by social distancing guidelines.”
He has been working as a summer intern for the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to both conserving, protecting, and supporting local natural resources and to connecting citizens with these resources.
Some of Sloan’s work over the summer has him deskbound, requiring him to perform tasks like writing reports and press releases, but many of his responsibilities also involve heading outside and getting his hands dirty. Community gardening, tree-planting, trail maintenance, and trail development are some of the jobs he has been doing.
Such work may be relatively unaffected by the pandemic, but the COVID-19-induced lockdown has actually made it more relevant than ever, he says. “Given everything that’s going on and with many people stuck at home, I thought it might be a quiet summer. But, actually, there’s been a pretty sharp increase in the amount of people using trails the Land Trust operates, and the amount of people getting outside to garden and volunteer and things like that.”
Sloan has also learned new skills. One of the big projects he undertook during the summer involved working on a couple of plots of land that the organization recently took ownership of. “There are a lot of unmarked and unmapped trails on that land, so I’ve been walking those trails and logging them in GPS systems so we can eventually have more detailed maps available when the trails are opened to the public.”
Sloan, an economics major, is a journalist for the Bowdoin Orient, and it was in that capacity he first encountered the Land Trust. “I was writing an article early last semester about some of the Nordic and cross-country skiing opportunities offered through the Land Trust, and got to talk with the president, Angela Twitchell,” he said. “Later, when considering summer opportunities in the nonprofit sector and trying to pursue a grant through the Office of Career Exploration and Development, I remembered that I already had a cool connection with a local organization doing something I was really interested in.”
As well as getting a really good idea of how a small nonprofit works, Sloan has been delighted to spend the summer in this part of Maine. “I wanted to stay in the beautiful Brunswick area for at least one summer during my time here, and it’s been great to do that, even though it’s been a far-from-normal summer.”
Sloan was the recipient of a grant awarded by the Annual Fund for Career Readiness provided by Matthew R. Neidlinger ’06. He is one of more than 100 Bowdoin students who have a funded internship from Bowdoin’s Career Exploration and Development office to work with an organization of their choice this summer. These funds provide a living wage to students if their employer, often a nonprofit, is unable to pay its interns.