MILBRIDGE, Maine — It's a fresh approach to providing healthy food to people in Washington County. This is a community garden where you can come and pick fruits, vegetables, and herbs for free.
The project, led by Women For Healthy Rural Living, looks to have free healthy organic food available to everyone and to promote a healthy lifestyle.
"To advance and promote the health and wellbeing of the women, her family and her community," Susan Jordan Bennett, the assistant director at Women for Healthy Rural Living, says.
It's called "Incredible Edible Milbridge," and it has two locations for people to stop, and pick whatever they like. Both are located on Main Street in Milbridge— one at the Red Barn Motel and the other one at Milbridge Commons Wellness Park.
"At first some folks were kind of slow to the idea, cause you don't walk into somebody's yard and pick their vegetables, but the idea has caught on and as you can see by the folks out here today, it's a destination, it's a place to take your kids and to see what's ripe for dinner and just get out and enjoy being in nature!" Jordan Bennett says.
The project started five years ago with just eight raised bed gardens, now they have two gardens that offer 12,000 square-foot of crops in each.
"Between 24 and 30 thousand pounds of vegetables that can come out of the gardens, including the raised beds," Jordan Bennett said.
Jordan Bennett tells NEWS CENTER Maine community activities like cooking classes, bone builders classes, weight watchers classes were all halted due to COVID-19.
New additions to the park, like a children's playground and a new apple and pear orchard will be added to the wellness park next year. "...but despite that, we've still got this program, 'Incredible Edible Milbridge' is flourishing!"
Open spaces that throughout the years have turned into free community gardens accessible to everyone.
"There's a lot of food insecurity in this part of Maine, and a lot of our neighbors are hungry," Zabet NeuCollins, the children's gardener at Incredible Edible Milbridge says.
This project had been a way to address food insecurity in the area and to bring a sense of community, a place where you can read a book, walk, sit and breath fresh air, or to harvest your own herbs, fruits or vegetables.
"I'm picking a bouquet of flowers for my wife!" Milbridge resident Ron Green says.
Michael Haden is one of the farmers who helps these gardens grow.
"A lot more people used to have gardens and now it's less and less so here is a place where people can pick some food and show their kids how vegetables grow and get their hands in the soil," Haden says.
Because of the ongoing pandemic fundraising efforts at Women for Healthy Rural Living all stopped, if you would like to support their different initiatives including this community garden free for all you can donate here.