Community Spotlight: Cultivating Community
To commemorate Earth Day we have partnered with the local organization Cultivating Community! On Saturday, please join up for a very special donation class at 7:00 am from which all proceeds will go towards supporting this amazing organization. Founded in 2001 by Rêve rider, Craig Lapine, Cultivating Community is engaged in a wide range of programming that seeks to encourage sustainable agricultural practices and job development, especially for New Americans, in Cumberland and Androscoggin County. This week, we spoke with them about their mission, their work to support that mission, and how to get involved.
Photo by Greta Rybus
What is the mission of Cultivating Community?
Cultivating Community supports people in accessing land, education, and training in order to grow their own food. It works to ensure that everyone, regardless of income, has access to the healthy food that is grown locally.
How do you approach this mission?
We take a values-based approach that upholds equity, diversity, social justice, food justice, and inclusion. We are committed to dismantling racism. We work across multiple generations collaborating with people to build food security and develop community. On the ground, this takes many different shapes, including working with community gardens, youth leadership programs, and running a farm business incubation program for New American farmers.
Where can we find Cultivating Community's work?
Cultivating Community's programs abound across Cumberland and Androscoggin Counties and include: farmer training for refugees and immigrants, the Fresh Start Farms Food Hub, the Fresh Start Farms CSA program, community gardens in Portland, food-based youth leadership development in Portland, and garden-based education for elementary school students in Portland. We operate a network of SNAP and WIC-accessible farm-stands across several cities, including the Good Food Bus.
Look for Cultivating Community at farm stands and farmers markets throughout Portland and the surrounding area- at Whole Foods on Tuesdays from 1-5pm, the Portland Food Co-op on Mondays from 3-6pm, the Opportunity Alliance on Thursdays from 2-5pm, and at the Wednesday and Saturday Portland Farmers’ Markets. You may also want to check out the organization's Boyd Street Urban Farm on Boyd Street in East Bayside as well as any other Portland community garden.
On Saturday, Rêvers can sign up for your CSA. What might one expect when joining the CSA?
Our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program provides customers with an abundance of freshly harvested, chemical- and pesticide-free produce. Participants have the option to sign up for the full, 16-week season, which runs from July through October, or either the summer or autumn 8-week season. Each week, we work hard to provide a variety of vegetables (and occasionally, fruit!), with about 8 different types of produce each week in our single share, and twice that for our family share. Our farmers are refugees and immigrants who are participating in our farm business incubation program, based out of Lisbon. By supporting the CSA, you are providing vital income and support to this wonderful community. You can visit our website to learn more about the CSA, discover our many delivery sites, and register online. You can also feel free to email Anna at FSF@cultivatingcommunity.org with any questions.
How can people get involved with Cultivating Community?
The possibilities are endless! Check out our website, sign up for our newsletter, follow us on Facebook, visit our farm-stands, sign up for our CSA or a community garden plot, attend our events, and more.
On Saturday, April 22, the 7 am class will benefit Cultivating Community. The class is free to sign up, and we ask you to bring a cash or check donation of $15 or more. Additionally, Cultivating Community Staff will be onsite with information about their CSA and other ways to get inolved!