While a bit of a local secret, the Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center Garden is no whimsical, hidden garden. It would be hard to keep a garden of this size a secret as it has, since 2009, grown and distributed upwards of 400,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables throughout Waldo County. Countless folks have volunteered their time and services to the project and countless families have been fed from the gardens yearly harvest. The garden provides food to local soup kitchens, 15 local food pantries, churches, the local YMCA, various local organizations such as The Game Loft, and the MCRRC, itself.
While the garden is large, and has captured the attention of local news outlets over the years, we here at RJP would be willing to bet a crate of zucchini that most folks within our community still don't know much about the garden project. Please read on to learn a little bit about this awesome project that was, in 2018, recognized by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Energy for “entrepreneurial excellence."
The MCRRC Garden is located in Swanville, upon 63 acres of land owned by Waldo County. The river flows from Swan Lake, 9.3 miles south to the city of Belfast and its mouth in Belfast Bay, an arm of Penobscot Bay. The soil is vitamin and mineral rich and has grown field upon field of fruits and vegetables including butternut and summer squash, pumpkins, zucchini, green beans, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, corn, beets, potatoes, and onions. It grows peach trees, apple and pear trees, and cherry trees.
In addition to the produce that's grown, local bee hives were donated to the project and are cared for by local bee keepers, Marsha and Lohman Gardener. Fun fact about bees: one third of our global food supply is pollinated by bees! Bees keep plants and crops alive and without them, humans wouldn't have very much to eat. In return, the MCRRC garden provides our local bees with plenty to eat, so they're happy and capable to work their magic! The Gardeners and their busy bees deserve a warm smile and 'thank you' in service of the garden project.
In addition to the Gardener's, many dedicated folks have been and are regularly involved in the project. The MCRRC residents volunteer their time on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and in return, develop skills and contribute towards community service). Waldo County Correctional staff, officers (if you cross paths with Cpl. Chris Albert, offer up a BIG "thank you" as he spends A LOT of time in the fields and on the tractors) and county commissioners work right alongside the MCRRC residents in the fields. There are many, many more folks who are involved in the project who will go unnamed in this post, but please know that they're greatly appreciated for their service and dedication by everyone involved in the project. It's truly a community garden, where everyone makes an equal contribution and everyone has equal impact.
Please take a minute to check out the video below along with gallery of images that were taken late summer/ early fall 2019. If you're interested in the garden, or perhaps you'd like to get involved, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Late Summer 2019 RJP/ MCRRC Garden Visit
Early fall 2019 RJP/ MCRRC Garden Visit