On Hurricane Valley Farm, a 62-acre plot of land located in Falmouth, Maine, we celebrated food, culture, and community. The dinner we sponsored in collaboration with Hannaford, a Maine-based chain of grocery stores, celebrated what Hurricane Valley farm represents: a step forward in Maine farming.
Cultivating Community’s mission centers around building sustainable communities. They do this by, in their words, “expanding access to healthy, local food; empowering children, youth, and adults to play diverse roles in restoring the local, sustainable food systems; and modeling, teaching, and advocating for ecological food production.”
Part of their work is the New American Sustainable Agriculture Project (NASAP). This training program works with refugee and immigrant farmers primarily based out of two incubator farms in Lisbon and Falmouth, Maine. NASAP teaches ecological farming practices and provides year-long technical and fiscal training. Many of the participants were previously farmers in the countries they immigrated from (Somalia, Kenya, Afghanistan, Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and Rwanda to name a few) and NASAP works to transfer additional skills, techniques, and knowledge required to farm in their new home of Maine.
The dinner itself, like Cultivating Community, was a collaborative event. Farmers and guests alike helped out with a buffet-style meal. John Yanga, one of the chefs for the evening, is a NASAP graduate. He now grows potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and a variety of greens. John comes from the Juba region of what is now South Sudan.
Also in attendance were current NASAP farmers Lansine Traore and Modibo Some, both from Mali. They have a mixed vegetable operation that includes fairly familiar crops (kale, tomatoes, etc.) as well as a few varieties (e.g. a kind of eggplant) in demand among fellow African immigrants.
Allagash, of course, provided the beer. That beer and the over $15,000 that we donated to Cultivating Community this year are part of our effort to give back 1% of sales to organizations around Maine. Thanks to everyone’s efforts, the dinner was a success in celebrating Cultivating Community programs like NASAP, while also fostering conversations around how we can help Cultivating Community, and organizations like them, to expand their essential work.
To learn more about our initiative to purchase one million pounds of Maine-grown grain, per-year by 2021, and our efforts to preserve clean water for Maine’s future, check out the blogs below.