DAMARISCOTTA, Maine — Maine farmers and gardeners are working nearly non-stop right now, trying to keep up with their crops. We’ve had rain and sun, and plants are growing rapidly -- that’s welcome news at one small farm in Damariscotta, because it means the farm will be able to help hundreds of people.
Twin Villages Foodbank Farm is just two acres, but the women who run it say they expect to harvest 50,000 pounds of vegetables this year. That size crop, says farm manager Sara Cawthon, is due to their intensive organic practices, which she says have greatly improved the soil and the yield of the crops. And all they grow will be given to local food banks.
The farm was started five years ago by Cawthon and Megan Taft, who say they wanted to grow food to help low income families improve their nutrition and lead healthier lives."We really think about the health of the local land and the health of people here as inextricably linked to each other," Taft says.
The women say they met in the midcoast area about fifteen years ago and have worked on farms and food security projects in several parts of the country. But they decided to return to Lincoln County to launch the Foodbank Farm project, which covers both interests. They say the support in the area has been significant.
"We farmed in several different states in New England and the Midwest but knew we wanted to be back in midcoast Maine...And the land trust and community here have been incredibly supportive of the whole project from the beginning," Cawthon says.
Cawthon and Caitlin Gardner are the two primary farmers, though they get some help from volunteers, too.
Taft handles the business end. She works for Good Shepherd Food Bank’s 'Mainers Feeding Mainers' program and also seeks grants and other funding to keep the project going. Taft says about half their budget is covered by local donations, using the model of Community Supported Agriculture. The difference is that traditional CSA has people buying their produce in advanced and getting regular deliveries.
With Twin Villages Foodbank Farm, she says, donors still buy a share of the year’s produce, but it goes to people in need.
Both women say they hope the idea spreads and grows.