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Food from MCHT's Erickson Fields Preserve made available for people to take for free at the Rockland Public Library. Photo courtesy of the Knox County Gleaners.

Meeting People Where They Are

In Midcoast Maine, we have plenty of fresh, local, healthy food and plenty of people who need it. How do we bridge that gap? That’s a question our staff at Aldermere Farm and Erickson Fields contemplate often.

Members of the Knox County Gleaners helping with the harvest at Erickson Fields Preserve. Food grown here is distributed throughout the Midcoast community, including at Pen Bay Medical Center.

Once again, in 2021, we donated tens of thousands of pounds of beef and produce to pantries in the area, which are critical distribution centers. But what about those suffering from hunger or lack of fresh, healthy food who cannot or will not visit a pantry?

For the first time, we’ve put up a “take what you need, pay what you can” farm stand at Aldermere Farm. Working with one of our partners, The Knox County Gleaners, this year Erickson Fields produce made its way to share tables at local churches, libraries, and other community centers, where anyone and everyone is welcome to take home fresh food. We also collaborated with Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport to offer produce in the entryway of the family health and pediatrics unit. So far, they’ve distributed over 3,000 pounds.

“The first day we put out 50 or 60 pounds of food and it was gone within four hours,” says Deidre Dority, who works in the community health and wellness department. “It’s hard to identify yourself as having food insecurity.

We’re finding that we reach food-insecure people more effectively when we offer this fresh, healthy, local food to everyone, with no stigma attached.” Deidre has heard many expressions of gratitude and found left-behind thank you notes in the empty bins.

“One elderly woman who has difficulty getting to a grocery store or maneuvering around a farmers market held up a bag of fresh tomatoes and said, ‘I haven’t had one of these in three years,’” says Deidre. “This is a wonderful project to be a part of.”

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