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Volume 1 No. 1 Summer 2013

LENI TUDE News from Cultivating Community

CULTIVATING

COMMUNITY

Mohamed Abukar selling vegetables at his stall at the Bath Farmer’s Market

CO NT E N T S 1-2 Incubator to Independence Growing Our Collaboration with Refugee and Immigrant Farmers, 2013-2015

2 Letter from the Executive Director Welcome to Plenitude

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Focus on the Farm Boyd Street Urban Farm Enters Second Decade as Transformed Community Space

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Community Cultivators Kidayer Aljubyly: A Former Youth Grower Takes Charge

5 Cultivating Community News An Artful Contribution to Cultivating Community: A Mobile Farm Stand called The Grow Cart

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The Big Picture The 2013 New England Food Summit

7 Cultivating Community News Using Triumphs as a Starting Point: Nicholas Kaponda and Daniel Ungier Build Capacity among Farmers in Zambia

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Upcoming Events Plenty: Join us for Cultivating Community’s Fall Celebration

I nc ubator To Independence

Growing Our Collaboration with Refugee and Immigrant Farmers, 2013-2015 What’s new with Cultivating Community’s collaboration with refugee and immigrant growers and farmers? We’re expanding it. Incubator to Independence is the next step in our New American Sustainable Agriculture Project (NASAP), as well as our work with refugee and immigrant youth. From 2013-2015, our partnership with growers and farmers from other countries will look like this: @@ We’ll be working with a greater number of adult farmers (52 each year), and we’ll launch a new initiative to continue to collaborate with NASAP graduates. While the post-graduate program is a work-in-progress, it will

provide farmers with options for working solo and receiving continued technical, planning, and business-development support as individuals continue to grow their farm-based enterprises. @@ We’ll be working with a greater number of youth growers (up to 150 each year), and we will launch a Youth Leadership Intensive over the 2013-4 school year so our youth can brainstorm with our board members and staff, as well as business experts, about options for expanding the reach and effectiveness of our food distribution program. @@ We’ll be going farther to ensure that refugee and immigrant growers and farmers can rely on a supportive community context in which they can attract buyers and market produce. Through participation in regional and national networks and through teaching at field schools, we will foster the sharing of best practices for outreach to


and interaction with refugee and immigrant growers and farmers who are learning a new language and adapting to a new context. CC anticipates that the next three years of this work will bring the following benefits: @@ increased food security, including access to fresh, nutritional foods, among refugees, low income families, and others in the community; @@ increased income for farmers and youth interns, as well as enhanced pride and independence; @@ improved quality-of-life and civic engagement for all stakeholders. We couldn’t do it without you. Thanks for your support of our work. CC

Letter from the Executive Director

Welcome to Plenitude . . . I’m so glad you’re reading this inaugural issue of Plenitude, Cultivating Community’s new biannual newsletter. So much is happening right now to foster a local, sustainable food system, and we wanted a way to offer useful updates to help you stay informed and involved. While helping to work on the big picture of restoring a fair and local food system, we continue to strengthen our low-cost, high-yield programs and projects. Here’s some of what we are engaged in this summer: @@ helping people build independent, organic farm businesses. @@ engaging youth in growing and delivering food for neighbors in need while developing their leadership skills;

All life comes from farms, and it’s important to support local farms.

—Aliyow Mohamed,

@@ running farm stands in Portland and South Portland—with expansion plans for Auburn and with a tricycle-powered mobile farm stand!—that are making fresh produce more affordable and accessible throughout southern Maine

@@ helping Portland Public Schools be the first urban school district in the country to achieve 50% local sourcing—a goal we’re trying to achieve by 2016, @@ providing year-round administrative capacity, strategic leadership, and support and services to gardeners in order to transform City of Portland’s community gardening program. We’ve been around for 12 years now. The more we do and grow, the more we know that you are at the heart of our community. Please like us on Facebook, join us for a Twilight Dinner this summer, and know how much we appreciate you and all you do.

@@ operating CSA programs, including low-/no-cost programs for families, youth, and elders

In gratitude, Craig Lapine Executive Director

Farmer

CULTIVATING

COMMUNITY

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Plenitude is published bi-annually by Cultivating Community. Each year we help dozens of new Americans build farm-based businesses; we strengthen the leadership and advocacy skills of hundreds of young people; and we connect thousands of Maine families with affordable access to a nutritious diet. All of our work is rooted in building a strong, sustainable, and local food system, and we couldn’t do any of it without the support of people like you. To make a donation, please visit cultivatingcommunity.org and click the Donate Now button. Thank you!

www.cultivatingcommunity.org

Cultivating Community 52 Mayo Street, P.O. Box 3792 Portland, Maine 04104-3792 T: 207.761.GROW F: 207.541.GROW E: info@cultivatingcommunity.org


F o cu s On T h e F a r m

Boyd Street Urban Farm Enters Second Decade as Transformed Community Space An essential part of Cultivating Community’s work is restoring growing spaces that invite people to tend the soil and become skilled food growers. Over the past ten years, Boyd Street Urban Farm in East Bayside, Portland (you see it off to the right as you drive down the slope of the Franklin Arterial toward I-295) has become a flagship urban agriculture project in which 48 community gardeners, as well as youth in Cultivating Community’s education and leadership programs, learn at, work at, and steward a once-neglected land parcel. In 2004, the plot at Boyd Street was in very bad shape. To address contamination issues, Cultivating Community phyto-remediated one large growing space, established a large raised bed for another, and planted an urban orchard. We established perennial production (including berries). With the help of many partners, including the City of Portland, which owns the land, we also established water access, rainwater collection, and a compost

system, and added two sheds plus a timber-framed pergola that supports vine production and serves as a community gathering space. Today, annual production at Boyd Street has reached 2,000 pounds of vegetables, berries, and fruit, all of which is donated to elders and lowincome families. BSUF also houses a farm stand welcoming low-income consumers to buy vegetables at an affordable price using SNAP or WIC

benefits if they wish. We hope to add honey production in 2014. In the heart of Maine’s most diverse census tract, BSUF encapsulates the potential impact of agriculture in a culturally rich, economically challenged urban area. The idea of turning city spaces in very poor health into vibrant farms that support youth programs as well as individuals/ families who want to work in the soil is essential to the vision of a local, sustainable food system. CC

CONTACT INFO

Portland, Maine’s Community Gardens Program: http://publicworks. portlandmaine.gov/ communitygarden.asp The American Community Garden Association: http://www.communitygarden. org

Every Wednesday youth sell produce they've grown at the Boyd Street Urban Farm Stand

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C o m m unit y C ulti v a t o r s

Kidayer Aljubyly: A Former Youth Grower Takes Charge Kidayer Aljubyly has been a Cultivating Community Youth Grower, a GROW intern, and a part of our Winter Leadership Intensive. This year he became the first youth alumnus to join the Cultivating Community staff when he became our Urban Grower. We caught up with him at the Boyd Street Urban Farm to ask him a few questions.

and grow food. Teaching them about different kinds of plants and that vegetables are better for you than junk food. Maybe they will grow some plants down the side of their house. Thank you, Kidayer, and thanks for working with us. CC

Please share a little about your background in farming.

I started helping my grandmother on her farm outside Basra in Iraq when I was nine. We grew tomatoes, cucumber, cilantro, carrots, and peaches and sold them at market. She inherited the farm from her father. He was blind, but he got up every morning and knew just where he needed to go. He lived until he was 110 years old. What did you enjoy about being a Youth Grower and a GROW Intern with Cultivating Community?

Growing fresh vegetables and meeting new people. I learned new techniques for feeding the soil and for planting. I enjoyed the civil rights education and learning about nutrition. What are some of your other interests and activities?

I just completed eleventh grade at Portland High. My favorite classes are carpentry, P.E., and math. I like working with my hands. Last year I won the State Championship in wrestling in my division. Congratulations! What are you planning on doing with Cultivating Community this summer?

Teaching young people how to plant 4

www.cultivatingcommunity.org

Pictured: Kidayer Aljubyly tending the crops at the Boyd Street Urban Farm.


C ulti v a tin g C o m m unit y N e w s

An Artful Contribution to Cultivating Community: A Mobile Farm Stand called The Grow Cart Our organization is community-driven. We grow from the interests, needs, and motivations of those we work with and for. We also benefit greatly from the special talents of friends. For example, Hannah Merchant, a Portland resident and 2013 graduate of the Maine College of Art (MECA), developed projects to support Cultivating Community’s mission over four years as she pursued MECA’s new minor in public engagement, as well as a major in woodworking and furniture design.

“growing and making food with the youth, eating it, and documenting the act with photography was a powerful experience that really stayed with me.” As a result, Hannah created Cultivating Community’s summer 2012 Recipe Book. She also designed and used a CNC machine to engrave the gorgeous sign that graces the

Hannah Merchant in her MECA studio glueing up the Grow Cart. It will be on the streets of Portland by late summer.

Hannah’s work for Cultivating Community has been inspired and diverse. She was drawn to us because she recognized that we were working creatively to expand access to healthful, life-sustaining food for all people. She worked in some of our farming spaces while also taking pictures of young people in our youth leadership programs. She found that

Community cookbook. We’ll notify you when it’s ready for sale! The way that food features in the life of our organization was a big draw for Hannah. “At Cultivating Community, I noticed a huge communal appreciation for food that I’ve never seen before and that I want,” she says. Cultivating Community was fortunate that Hannah was among the second class of MECA graduates that could collaborate with local organizations for credit toward a minor in public engagement. According to Assistant Dean and Director of Public Engagement, Elizabeth Jabar, in establishing this minor, MECA intended that students “take a lot of risks” in finding powerful ways to infuse art into community-based initiatives. Cultivating Community is thrilled to be introducing the Grow Cart this summer. While Hannah found inspiration for her design in vegetable carts, rickshaws, and cabinets, we have found inspiration in her. Look for the Grow Cart in your neighborhood, and let us know if you have an interest or skill that you would like to contribute to CC’s transformative work. CC

CONTACT INFO

outside of our offices in East Bayside. And, for her capstone, she designed the Grow Cart, a mobile farm stand that is revving up our food access work, providing a tricycle-powered, movable venue for the distribution and sale of locally-sourced, organically grown produce to people who need it. And she’s not done yet. Hannah is designing a new expanded Cultivating

Contact CC at info@ cultivatingcommunity.org Learn about Hannah’s work at www.hannahmerchant.com Learn about MECA’s minor in public engagement at http:// www.meca.edu/bfa/publicengagement

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t h e bi g pictu r e

The 2013 New England Food Summit It’s an exciting time for all of us who work within the food system in Maine. As you may have read in the Portland Press Herald and elsewhere, our state is taking part in the creation of a regional food plan with the goal of making Maine and New England more self-reliant. The issues we at Cultivating Community have been championing—more people growing food close to home; more people choosing a sustainable diet; and all people having the option of making that choice—are ripening.

accessible food for all New Englanders by 2060. Cultivating Community is and will continue to be part of this process, bringing our values of democracy, inclusion, and social justice to this historic re-visioning of the food system. All of you are involved, too, as consumers, as well as, in many cases, gardeners and farmers, leaders of your families, activists, and professionals. CC

GET INVOLVED In Maine, in particular, the vision for the food future is not one of managing the decline of our land and other elements of our heritage. Instead, it’s a genuinely positive and progressive scenario in which the land and sea and their biodiversity are safeguarded while people earn adequate livings growing and harvesting food that enables all of us to live better, healthier lives. In

other words, it’s an environmental vision but also an economic and social one, and it is this complex nature of the emerging food vision that makes the current work so positive and promising for all. The New England Food Vision is a multi-phase project that calls for our region to build the capacity to produce up to 70% of clean, fair, just, and

Mainers can participate in this work by attending meetings of the Maine Food Strategy and its working groups. To find out about upcoming opportunities, go to www.mainefoodstrategy.org and click on “Get Involved.”

Maine’s delegation to the New England Food Summit included people working in farming, fishing, and food processing, as well as representatives from the public, private, non-profit, and educational sectors.

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www.cultivatingcommunity.org


C ulti v a tin g C o m m unit y N e w s

Using Triumphs as a Starting Point: Nicholas Kaponda and Daniel Ungier Build Capacity among Farmers in Zambia In 2012, Nicholas Kaponda, community activist, visionary, and founder of the New Dawn Non-Formal School in Ndola, a mining town of 450,000 in Zambia, was accepted into IREX, an international nonprofit that develops leadership and programs to promote positive lasting change around the world. With support from IREX, Nicholas came to Cultivating Community to work last season. In return, early in this growing season, Daniel Ungier, director of the New American Sustainable Agriculture Project, spent two weeks in Zambia leading members of agricultural cooperatives in strengthsbased strategic planning.

own cultural constructs. “He wanted to learn from our program, in which people from impoverished countries bring their own insights and farming experience to a new focus on business planning and leadership development,” says Daniel. In part by collaborating with Cultivating Community, Nicholas believed he could build a platform for

Right: New Dawn Non-Formal School founder Nicholas Kaponda, NASAP Director Daniel Ungier, and New Dawn participant Florence Kapele pause outside the school's classroom building. Below: New Dawn farmers gather after one of Daniel's workshops to announce personal commitments for their role in the work plans their agricultural cooperatives have designed.

Nicholas wanted to use his IREX fellowship to find ways to break through dependency fostered in Zambia by a combination of poverty (there is a 50% unemployment rate in the Ndola region) and what he perceived to be international NGO’s announcing problems and recommending solutions based on their

entrepreneurial thinking, innovation, and the creation of new market opportunities in Zambia. In his region, agricultural production has been stifled by a lack of capital and also adherence to traditional staple crops like grains. These crops are sold for very low prices and yield virtually no profit for farmers, but

Nicholas is helping to lead a culture of agricultural entrepreneurship that is evolving into farmers starting smallscale businesses in chicken, pork, and vegetable production.

When Daniel arrived in Zambia this past June, he set about training staff at the New Dawn Non-Formal School in what is known as “appreciative inquiry,” a community mobilization tool designed to help groups identify past successes, and, based on an appreciation of those successes, plan for mutual growth. “Instead of focusing on problems, people identify strengths,” Daniel says. “This reframes what might otherwise be a difficult planning process.” “I learned appreciative inquiry in Senegal and have implemented it in Mongolia,” he continues. “People who live with poverty need to appreciate the amazing successes they have achieved in surviving a complex web of nearly insurmountable challenges. Appreciative inquiry fosters respect for all that people have already done and are already doing, and that leaves everyone feeling more empowered for future action.” Cultivating Community plans to stay connected with the New Dawn School, providing technical assistance to this incubator of entrepreneurship on the other side of the globe. CC

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CULTIVATING

LE NI T U D E COMMUNITY

News from Cultivating Community

Cultivating Community P.O. Box 3792 Portland, ME 04104

upc o m in g e v ent s

Plenty: Join Us for a Fall Celebration What does Plenty mean to you? Come celebrate the bounty of the harvest season with Cultivating Community and friends. Join us at Mayo Street Arts Center on October 24th at 7PM. Our end-of-season celebration will bring together farmers who have grown our food this summer, the marvelous young people in Cultivating Community’s programs (they grow food, too), and our many and diverse friends in the community. We’ll provide the libations and hors d’oeuvres (featuring locally grown produce, of course), and we’re putting together a short program, 8

Come celebrate the spirit of Plenty!

too, honoring the farmers in our lives. Above all, we see this as an opportunity to embrace old friends and make new ones. Please save the date and tell your friends. You won’t find a more joyous celebration anywhere.

www.cultivatingcommunity.org

Mayo Street Arts Center is at 10 Mayo Street in East Bayside in Portland. We are accepting rsvp’s via email. Please contact Lesley Heiser: lesley@cultivatingcommunity.org if you are able to attend.


Plenitude_Volume 1 No. 1_Summer 2013  

Plenitude is a quarterly newsletter published by Cultivating Community in Portland, Maine.

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