TEAMwork and GetGrowing
TEAM(To Employ And Mentor)work and GetGrowing are intiatives started in the summer of 2014, as part of our on-going youth programming, and a first project for our Community Food Network Initiative. This program is part of an over-all LCOC goal that focuses on wellness through healthy food, community collaboration, and connection. We envision the youth, volunteers, and teachers continuing in a future capacity involving healthy food, nutrition, growing activities in the school, and community gardens, all extending into the wider community with new projects as they develop.
In the summer of 2014, eight middle school and high school youth were mentored by volunteers to develop skills associated with food production. The youth participated in an array of gardening activities, both educational and task-based which, included building garden containers, tool use, soil analysis and building, gathering seaweed, composting, weeding, cultivating, thinning, vermiculture, harvesting, and cooking with herbs. Each youth built a container garden to take home and to care for through the summer to harvest for their family. With a goal of part time employment for the kids, the program included pre-vocational skill building with time sheets, journaling and accountability practices.
During the 2014-15 school year, LCOC facilitated in the development of curriculum and activities in the After School Program aimed at providing ongoing classroom engagement in growing food and increasing awareness of the value that local food can bring to the community.
In 2015, through a grant from the Maine Community Foundation and the support of many volunteers, the GetGrowing Program expanded with three projects. On June 7 we held a Home Gardener's Fair on the school grounds, in a collaboration with several other local groups, including the Downeast Coastal Conservancy, Coast of Maine, Lubec Open Market, Transitions Lubec, Herbminders of Maine, Old Sow Farm and Three Dogs Farm. Over 100 people came together to share and learn from each other about vegetable gardening and more. Vendors provided and shared information on seedlings, seeds, flowers, herbs and teas, rabbits and goats, blacksmithing and rain barrels. Permaculturist Jim Kowalski spoke on "Grass Fed Veggies" and scything. With food and music, the Fair was a very enjoyable community event.
Also in June, the planning and installation of the School Garden was completed at the Lubec School. Chris Cousins, Project Manager, and Heidi Herzberger, Garden Educator, designed a plan of raised beds scaled for children, which was installed by volunteers. The children in the After School Program planted seeds and seedlings, and the care and harvesting continued with the Summer Recreation Program and the After School Program.
The third part of the 2015 Get Growing Program was the installation of five gardens at homes in and around the Lubec area. After the tilling or installation of raised beds, experienced gardeners promoted and mentored new gardeners about best practices for growing vegetables. The recipients of new gardens are very pleased with their ability to grow food at home.
We hope that these projects and others in the future will serve to increase interest and access to healthy and locally grown food. The support and enthusiasm has been affirming our goals.
This program was supported mostly by volunteers generous with their time, and with grant funds from Healthy Acadia, United Way of Eastern Maine, and the Maine Community Foundation. In addition, with a grant from the Agnes M. Lindsay Trust we were able to give scholarships to five youth to the 2014 Down East Teen Leadership Camp sponsored by Washington County-One Community.