Imagine a world in which all families, regardless of income, eat the healthiest, freshest produce; a world in which youth focus their energies on helping themselves and their neighbors; a world in which people care deeply about the land, their communities, and each other. This is the world we at Cultivating Community are working to create.
Cultivating Community (based in Portland, Maine and active in greater Portland and greater Lewiston) is committed to growing sustainable communities in three ways: by feeding our hungry, empowering our youth and community, and healing our planet. We are a community food project. In our urban and school gardens and at our suburban organic farm, we grow produce that feeds hungry people. We use that community food work as a platform for youth and community development. Our youth grow and distribute food, learn about sustainable agriculture and food systems, and work together to solve problems and strengthen their own communities. We have independent youth programs as well as partnerships with schools.
We are also a farmer training project. We connect Maine's newest Americans-primarily immigrants from East Africa and Central America-with the land, skills, and resources needed to start farm-based enterprises. In connection with this we operate a community garden in a predominantly refugee neighborhood of Portland and provide farmland access in Lisbon, ME near Lewiston.
We run a network of farm stands around the City of Portland that accept SNAP and WIC benefits, making healthy food a more affordable and accessible option for all people. These farm stands are expanding to include a bike-powered mobile farm stand and a Produce Prescription Program that offers vegetable incentives to obese/diabetic children and families.
Finally, Cultivating Community is an environmental action project. We model organic, sustainable, and low-impact practices and incorporate these ideals into our education, training, and volunteer programs.