Harpswell Heritage Land Trust supports community and school gardens

A volunteer helps harvest onions during the Harpswell Community Garden’s fall work day.

Many people do not realize that, in addition to preserving land, building trails and providing educational programs, Harpswell Heritage Land Trust also supports community and school gardens.

In 2005 an anonymous donor set up a fund to provide grants to Harpswell-based community and school gardens. Harpswell Heritage Land Trust (HHLT) manages the fund.

In 2018 HHLT awarded five grants.

The Harpswell Community Garden at Mitchell Field received money for annual operating expense and continued improvements to the garden’s water supply system. The community garden provides rental plots for community members to grow their own food and a Common Good garden, where volunteers grow food to donate to the local food pantry. Those interested in renting a plot or getting involved can contact the Town of Harpswell.

Harpswell Coastal Academy also received funding for improvements at its Ash Point Road campus.

This group of four Harpswell Coastal Academy (HCA) students, called the Farm Team, lead their peers in projects on the farm. During the fall of 2017, around 60 percent of HCA students were involved in the farm.

“We are now able to move forward with our long-awaited farm projects. With the influx of grant funds from the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust, we will be able to properly amend our garden soil, purchase chickens and buy seeds for our garden,” said Abby Baker, Division I Special Educator at the school. “This spring we will begin a very exciting genetics investigation, which will require students to blend genetics lessons in the classroom with hands-on exploration as they experiment with the plants growing in the garden. Our students are very excited for the incoming chicks that they will raise and care for. Finally, the food that the students grow in our expanded garden will supplement our school lunch program.”

Harpswell Community School received funds for two different projects. The school’s vegetable garden will get money for seeds, supplies and tools. In addition, fifth graders at the school are working with Harpswell Heritage Land Trust’s educator to learn about invasive and native plants. Through this project they are creating a native flower garden at the school. The community and school garden fund is supporting this project with seeds and materials.

The final grant has been awarded to the Harpswell Community Nursery School (HCNS) for a small greenhouse and improved watering systems.

“We are delighted with the gardening opportunities ahead, made possible by the award of this grant,” said Tahnthawan Coffin, director of the school. “Gardening has always been part of the HCNS curriculum, but the addition of a greenhouse and improved watering systems will take teaching and learning opportunities to new heights for our entire school community.”

Gardening activities eligible for funding are those that allow groups of Harpswell citizens to grow fresh food and flowers or that use gardens as learning opportunities for students. Funding is available for tools, supplies and infrastructure improvements for existing gardens, as well as for start-up costs for new gardens.

Community members interested in establishing a new garden are welcome to contact Harpswell Heritage Land Trust at any time of year. For more information, click here or contact Julia McLeod at outreach@hhltmaine.org or 207-837-9613.

May 2018