Somali Farmers Find a New Home in Maine
We are thrilled to announce that MODERN FARMER recently featured an article on our New American Sustainable Agriculture Project!
Learn more about Fresh Start Farms growers and their journeys as refugees and farmers:
Here's an exerpt: "When a persistent infection put farmer Batula Ismail in and out of the hospital this summer, her rows of carrots became consumed with weeds. In other another town, her plot might have stayed that way. but Ismail farms collectively with more than a dozen recent Somali Bantu immigrants in Lewiston, Maine. And her colleagues put off their own needy fields to crouch down together and hand-weed until Ismail's frilly carrot tops emerged that uncharacteristically wet June. As Ismail convalesced, her eldest daughter, a new mother herself, assumed daily farms tasks while Ismail's eldest son delivered her CSA shares and manned her farmers' market booths."
THANK YOU to author Laura McCandlish and photographer Amy Temple for contributing to the story!
Reiche School Garden!
Did you know that Cultivating Community teaches gardening and nutrition at Reiche School? Below is an article that our FoodCorps member, Laura Fralich, wrote for the Reiche School Newsletter this month. We hope you enjoy it! And also, remember to look out for a copy of our annual appeal in your home mailbox. We appreciate any support you can give!
You might be wondering why your kids have come home from school with new “garden names”, dirt on their hands and talking about the spiciness of nasturtiums or the sweetness of lemon balm. It is because garden class is in full swing and we have been busy harvesting, digging and exploring the beautiful Reiche School Garden. I am so excited and grateful to be the garden teacher at Reiche School this year through Cultivating Community and FoodCorps. Throughout the whole year I will be teaching science, nutrition and math through gardening and cooking, and what a wonderful start to year it has been.
Though the weather does not seem to think that it’s November, this week we finally put the garden “beds to bed” for the winter. We have had amazing weather, lots of food to harvest and worms to dig for. We have been doing scavenger hunts, learning about plant parts, harvesting potatoes, beets, carrots and nasturtiums, planting winter greens, making mini hoop houses, planting garlic, mulching and making sun tea! The season has given us lots of delicious food to harvest which we have used to put nasturtiums in the salad bar, make a carrot and beet salad, potato leek soup (look for the recipes the students brought home!) and lemon balm tea.
The first, second and third graders this week prepared the garden for the winter by mulching the garden with lots of hay, leaves, cardboard and compost to protect and feed the soil for the winter. Meanwhile, last week, the Kindergarteners, fourth and fifth graders planted garlic to harvest in the springtime. For the whole year we will be learning about how plants grow, the seasonality of vegetables, the history of various foods and healthy eating and cooking, all while gaining an appreciation for fresh, local, healthy food!
Feel free to stop by the garden to check it out, volunteer with a class, ask me a question or give any suggestions. I look forward to continuing to work with all your kids this year in the garden!
Laura Fralich (or Laura Beet)
It's official - autumn is here.
Cover crop has been sown, the high tunnel has been raised, and community gardeners learned season extension techniques thanks to a workshop by Clara Coleman of Four Season Farm. We celebrated heartily at our annual harvest festival ("Plenty"), and have bid the season farewell.
So what's next? Our Culinary Crew will be taking over the kitchen at Local Sprouts Cafe! That's right, these teens - students from Portland and Deering High Schools - have been learning how to grow and cook delicious vegetables, and now they'll have their chance to run a real restaurant! Prepare to dine like never before, and enjoy the autumn-inspired fruits of their labor.
What: Culinary Crew Celebration Dinner
Where: Local Sprouts Cafe, 649 Congress Street in Portland
When: Monday, November 11th from 5:30-7:30pm
Cost: $10-20 for adults and $5 for kids. If you're not able to pay, call us at 761-4769 for a free coupon. Everyone is invited to feast and enjoy!
Autumn is also a time for us to reach out to you, our readers and collaborators, for support. Now that the craziness of the harvest is winding down, it's our time to switch gears and plan for the new year. We have so many exciting and ambitious ideas in the works, but need your investments to bring those dreams to life! Please look out for our Annual Fund Appeal and give generously to join our vision and support our work in 2014. Thank you so much!
Farm Stands Open July 1st!
Our Farm Stands are BACK!
We are officially open for business, and everyone is invited! Come get your vegetables at our seven neighborhood farm stands, featuring Fresh Start Farms growers and fresh produce straight from our farm in Lisbon, ME. Cash, credit/debit, EBT, and WIC are all accepted. Click here for more information, and stop by to say hi and see what's growing:
- Mondays 1-5pm at Whole Foods Market, store front
- Tuesdays 1-4pm at Opportunity Alliance, 510 Cumberland Ave
- Tuesdays 3-6pm at Reiche School Playground, on Brackett Street
- Wednesdays 2-5pm at Boyd Street Farm in Kennedy Park
- Thursdays 3-6pm at Riverton School, side entrance next to parking lot
- Thursdays 3-6pm at The Hub on Westbrook Street, Redbank/Brickhill village in South Portland
- Sundays 11am-1pm at St. Luke's Cathedral on State Street
Hope to see you there! :)
We're growing again!
2012 was Cultivating Community's best season yet!
- Our Growing Access/Growing Communities initiative at farm stands and farmers’ markets put over $101,000 worth of healthy food on the tables of more than 4,000 low-income Maine families.
- 1,025 young people had access to intensive training in leadership and stewardship while learning where their food comes from—and growing some of it themselves!
- 24 new American families walked a real pathway out of poverty by starting businesses in our farmer training program that earned them about $150,000.
- 71 families had community garden plots somewhere in our farm and garden network.
- 145 Maine seniors got access to Senior Farm Shares, and another 20 received our souped up ElderShares.
- 216 members of our Fresh Start Farms CSA received a season’s worth of the freshest vegetables and were able to pick up their food at 27 sites throughout southern and central Maine. Seventeen of these members participated in our CSA program using their SNAP benefits to purchase reduced price shares.
As the 2013 growing season begins, please consider supporting us so we can continue to expand our impact in the community.