“I enjoyed harvesting beets and carrots. I learned there is a place that grows and gives produce to people who need it. It means a lot to me to be a part of it.” So wrote Zoie Wells, a fifth-grader at Great Salt Bay Community School, in a handwritten note to Twin Villages Foodbank Farm Manager Sara Cawthon. Zoie’s note is affirming of the farm’s intent to work with students to foster a sense of community stewardship as well as a connection to the local growing season.
Twin Villages Foodbank Farm in Damariscotta grows vegetables using organic growing practices on two acres of land, located at Damariscotta River Association’s Great Salt Bay Farm. All the produce is donated to food pantries and other low-income food programs in Lincoln County.
Launched in 2016, the farm produced nearly 20,000 pounds of produce for four Lincoln County food pantries in its first season. This year, the farm has grown 30,000 pounds of produce, with deliveries to six area pantries and two youth programs each week. The farm will continue to make fresh food deliveries to area pantries until early December.
As early as last May, GSB’s agriculture coordinator, Margaret Coleman, began bringing students from fifth through eighth grade to the farm, where they spread compost, removed rocks, and transplanted seedlings. This fall, GSB returned with fifth- and sixth-graders to help bring in the harvest, resulting in more than 2,000 pounds of carrots, beets, peppers, and potatoes for donation.
Lincoln Academy seniors came out for spring community-service day and helped prepare 16 100-foot long beds for transplanting many spring crops. And almost every week throughout the summer, Damariscotta River Association’s summer campers visited the farm to help with harvesting, planting, and weeding. All told, more than 450 students and campers volunteered at the farm this season.
Additionally, FARMS Community Kitchen was on hand this fall offering field-cooked taste tests using seasonal recipes. While some students harvested and washed produce, others cooked outside under a tent, offering samples of fresh farm food to the volunteers.
Twin Villages Foodbank Farm will continue to partner with GSB, Lincoln Academy, and FARMS, with plans to host even more students next spring.
Twin Villages Foodbank Farm partner Damariscotta River Association is a nonprofit, membership-supported, and nationally accredited land trust and conservation organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the natural, cultural, and historical heritage of the Damariscotta region, centered on the Damariscotta River. For more information, go to damariscottariver.org.