February 14, 2020

Raymond Community Garden honored for role in Maine’s Harvest for Hunger Program

By Briana Bizier

If you’ve visited the Raymond Village Library in the summer or fall, you’ve probably noticed the colorful flowers and lush vegetables in the Raymond Community Garden next door to the library. Although the beds are now covered by a blanket of snow, the garden is still being honored for the impact it made last year.

As 2019 drew to a close, the Raymond Village Library received a letter from the Maine Harvest for
Community garden member, Linda Pankewicz
cleans carrots to be donated
Hunger, a program coordinated by University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Last summer, the Raymond Community Garden donated 200 pounds of food to Maine families struggling with hunger.
Raymond’s donations were in good company. According to the Harvest for Hunger website, over 120 farms in the state of Maine donated 193,000 pounds of food.

Every little bit helps,” wrote Pamela Hargest, a Horticulture Professional at the University of Maine. “In total, Cumberland County residents, farmers, community gardeners, business owners, and school staff and students grew and donated over 32,000 pounds of fresh produce this year.”

The Raymond Community Garden is totally organic, and plots are available to all members of the community. Every member of the Raymond Community Garden pledges to plant one row of fruits or vegetables to donate to the Raymond Food Pantry, which is staffed by the Lions Club.

A well-documented national issue is the ability of the poor and food insecure to eat a healthy diet,” explains Sheila Bourque, Director of Raymond Village Library’s Board of Trustees. “The cost of fresh vegetables is often higher than processed food. The garden's donations increase the ability of people to eat a healthier diet.”

I have seen firsthand the difference fresh vegetables make to those who receive them through the food pantry,” Bourque continued. “Boxes are made up by the Lions and people line up an hour before the pantry opens. Those that receive the produce are excited when they come into the food pantry during our short growing season. It is an unexpected and wonderful treat!”

Raymond’s food pantry is open year-round, and donations are welcome at any time. Donations may be dropped off at Lake Region Baptist Church on 1273 Roosevelt Trail.

If you’d like to contribute fresh vegetables during our short and sweet summer, the Raymond Community Garden does have plots available. The community plots are approximately 10 feet by 16 feet, and there is a recommended donation of $15 a plot. The fees cover shared gardening tools and equipment.

Claiming your own garden plot isn’t the only way to get involved with the Community Garden. If you’re intimidated by the thought of taking on an entire garden bed by yourself, the Raymond Community Garden is always looking for volunteers to help weed and water! Contact Leigh Walker at 207-310-0741 or visit the Raymond Village Library to request more information or to reserve your spot.

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