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Community in the Garden: Another Strong Season

by Julia St.Clair, Agricultural Programs Coordinator

CGG volunteers Claudia, Hope, and Janice preparing harvested onions for donation to MCHPP

Another successful growing season has wrapped up in the Common Good Garden (CGG). The Common Good Garden is a section of the Tom Settlemire Community Garden where produce is grown for Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program (MCHPP). CGG is run by a dedicated group of volunteer gardeners who show up with a passion for feeding their community. You can read more about the work of the Common Good Garden here.

Throughout the 2022 growing season, we were able to donate over 2,500 pounds of produce to MCHPP for use in their kitchen and distribution via their pantry, including winter squash, green beans, leeks, carrots, and a variety of onions. Additionally, some of the CCG produce was donated to the local New Mainer community and was used in the BTLT fundraiser porch dinner series at Vessel and Vine this past month.

Through the Trees teen group at TSCG after a successful workday

We are lucky to have such a vibrant community around the garden – it would not nearly be as productive as it is without the commitment, hard work, and passion of the volunteers who showed up each week ready to plant, weed, deal with pests, or harvest a seemingly endless bounty of carrots. This past year we were also thrilled to have Jane Olsen, a Bowdoin Environmental Studies Fellow, join us for the summer and support CGG, working alongside volunteers each week. We also had support from other community groups, including a teen group from Through the Trees, who jumped right in, bringing a bounty of gardening knowledge, and helping us to prepare the squash beds for planting. We are grateful also for the generous donations of seedlings from Whatley Farm, Six River Farm, and other local gardeners. Many, many hands contributed to the success of CGG this season!

Volunteers Ron, Janice, Claudia, and Diana with the final harvest of produce ready for delivery to MCHPP

Tending the CGG this year was not without its challenges, including an unexpected frost, a delay in setting up irrigation correctly, a box of sad onion seedlings, and an aphid infestation in a row of squash, but such is the nature of gardening. Luckily, this volunteer team and other community members jumped in to support and problem-solve together. This growing season was also one of joy and surprise: a garter snake living in the squash patch; monarch caterpillars crawling around the carrots; and a pair of scissors lost in a bed at the start of the season recovered last week while cleaning up a plot. In the end, the CGG had another successful year and we are already ready to start planning for the next growing season!

The Common Good Garden volunteer crew meets twice a week on weekday mornings throughout the growing season to plant, tend, and harvest produce in the Common Good Garden. We are always looking for more hands in the Common Good Garden and so if you are interested in joining us as a volunteer next growing season, please sign up for the Tom Settlemire Community Garden newsletter by clicking here. Volunteers in CGG bring a variety of backgrounds and extensive collective gardening knowledge working collaboratively to problem solve in the garden. We have endless gratitude for this group of volunteers that contribute their time, knowledge, and physical labor to the success of CGG.

Once again we would like to share a huge THANK YOU to the CGG volunteer crew and invite you to join us next season!

BTLT In the News: “Giving Voice: Harvest for Hunger Program is helping Mainers. Here’s how.”

 

Giving Voice: Harvest for Hunger Program is helping Mainers. Here’s how.

By Eden Martin (Giving Voice) – food bank coordinator at Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program. Giving Voice is a weekly collaboration among four local non-profit service agencies to share information and stories about their work in the community.

Spring is my favorite season – full of hope, new beginnings, and the start of the growing season in Maine! Farmers and gardeners are ramping up for the coming growing season by planning gardens, planting seeds, and working to prepare for the busy months ahead. What if during your planning, you decided to set aside the food in one raised bed for your neighbor? Well, many people are doing just that! Local farmers, community and home gardeners, businesses, and schools are all setting aside produce that they harvest to donate to those in the community who need it.

The Maine Harvest for Hunger Program, run by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, coordinates and tracks donations of produce throughout Maine and you can be a part of it! All you have to do is connect with a local recipient agency, like Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program, drop your produce off at the agency, then report your donation on the Maine Harvest for Hunger website – super easy! This reporting helps the state get a more comprehensive idea of how much food is actually being used to feed neighbors in need.

A great example of this is the Common Good Garden run by the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust. Volunteers tend the garden and spend over 400 hours each season planting, watering, and harvesting fresh fruits and vegetables. This produce is donated to Giving Voice is a weekly collaboration among four local non-profit service agencies to share information and stories about their work in the community, which then distributes it throughout the region to help feed people experiencing food insecurity. In 2021, the Common Good Garden donated over 3,000 pounds of fresh produce to Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program!

Since the Maine Harvest for Hunger system started keeping track in 2000, approximately 3,176,120 pounds of fresh produce has been donated in the state of Maine – that is a lot of produce! Thanks to partners in the community such as the Common Good Garden, Crystal Spring Farm, IDEXX, Whatley Farm, Six River Farm, farmers’ markets, and many more, food insecure individuals in Maine are able to have access to fresh, local produce all year long.

To learn more about how you can be part of this movement and use your home garden to support your community, you can visit extension.umaine.edu/harvest-for-hunger or www.mchpp.org.

To read the full article online, click here.