DRA Fields to Feed the Hungry

Sara Cawthon and Meg Taft of Twin Villages Foodbank FarmThe summer of 2016 will bring renewed agricultural life to Damariscotta River Association’s Great Salt Bay Farm, which will be host to Megan Taft and Sara Cawthon’s newly established Twin Villages Foodbank Farm. As part of a regional effort to address hunger in Midcoast Maine, two acres of DRA’s Great Salt Bay Farm will be cultivated to grow crops for distribution at the Ecumenical Food Pantry and other Lincoln County pantries and low-income food programs.

Twin Villages Foodbank Farm is the culmination of on-going conversations among the DRA, local farmers and regional partners including Lincoln County Food Council, FARMS, the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program, and the Ecumenical Food Pantry.

Cultivating the fields at DRA’s Great Salt Bay Farm honors the history of the farm by returning a portion of the land back to active agricultural production, while significantly increasing access to fresh, local produce for families from our neighboring communities. The opportunity to reestablish crop production at the farm is a powerful reminder that the health of our lands, water and people are closely linked.

Cawthon and Taft first approached the DRA with the idea of cultivating a foodbank farm after visiting the Ecumenical Food Pantry and talking with other regional partners about the need for increasing the availability and quality of fresh foods to regional food pantries. It was clear that while effort is made to provide families with fresh produce, additional work is needed to provide an adequate supply of fresh, nutritious foods. Twin Villages Foodbank Farm will produce a diverse mix of fresh vegetables which will provide over 20,000 pounds of nutritionally dense produce this season.

One and a half acres have already been prepared at the farm, and cold weather crop seedlings are thriving in a Unity College greenhouse, to be planted in late April. Start-up funding has been received in the form of two grants, one from the Horizon Foundation and the other from the Quimby Family Foundation. Additionally, individual supporters are stepping up to contribute funds to the farm through sponsored “CSA Shares.”

The farm will operate on a modification of the popular Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model, where individuals, families and businesses can purchase a farm share which would then be donated for distribution to Lincoln County pantries. These sponsored farm shares are available for purchase at different levels. Full shares for $300 will “Feed a Family,” providing a family of four with a full season’s harvest of varied produce. A half share for $150 will “Feed a Couple.”

DRA Executive Director Steven Hufnagel notes, “We are thrilled to provide the space and organizational support for such capable farmers to address a pressing problem in our community. DRA lands serve the region and its people in so many ways, and we’ve played a role in promoting local agriculture through our conservation activities, but this project couldn’t be more direct or tangible in its benefits.”

Cawthon and Taft have a wide range of agricultural experiences in New England and the Midwest. They have operated their own CSA farm, founded and worked for a growers’ cooperative supporting disadvantaged farmers, helped start a beginner farm incubator, and have worked with several educational food and farm programs.

Cawthon holds a Master of Science degree from Antioch University in Environmental Studies with a focus on agriculture and has most recently served as the Bowdoin College Organic Garden Manager. Taft holds a Master in Education degree in Social Justice Education with a concentration in Food Justice and Access.

For questions or more information about Twin Villages Foodbank Farm email TVFF at scawthon@twinvillagesfarm.org.

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