– CEBE launches Nezinscot Food Collaborative, a community gardening project

BUCKFIELD – As part of its mission to foster a vibrant local food movement, the Center for the Ecologically Based Economy (CEBE) has launched a community garden program that it hopes will expand to communities of Oxford Hills.

The first project is being developed in Buckfield at Junior-Senior High School.

It’s not just the people who care for Buckfield’s new community garden. Left to right, Annika Noonan, 4, Jen Noonan, Alba the goat, Adelaide Cooper, Jess Cooper, Josie the goat. Photo provided

“We call it the Nezinscot Food Collaborative,” explained Jess Cooper, volunteer garden coordinator. “There was already a one-acre garden space at the school. In recent years, the students mainly planted pumpkins and squash. But during the summer, they didn’t really have the means to take care of it.

“So we invited community gardeners to create a food web and work the garden through to harvest. I work with Annette Caldwell, the school’s gardening consultant, and Jen Noonan, a school neighbor who has a small farm and wants to expand.

The three got together with volunteers at the school on June 6 to till the ground and start planting. Cooper said there are currently a dozen, including students, working to start the Nezinscot Food Collaborative. Noonan also puts his goats into service, a nanny named Josie and a child named Alba. Their job is to graze around the garden to reduce weeds and remove cover for rodents that attack the garden.

Norway’s CEBE is planting a new community garden, using underutilized farmland and a farm stand at Buckfield Junior-Senior Secondary School Photo provided

Another advantage of the community garden’s location at the school is that it already has a farm stand on site, making it easy to sell fresh produce.

“We have two goals – to provide access to fresh, locally grown food, but also to rent plots to residents so they can plant their own produce,” Cooper said. “It’s a new model for the CEBE. We use the Alan Day Community Garden in Norway as a guide. And we want to eventually expand this movement to other communities, probably through spaces in schools and churches.

Cooper urges anyone in the Oxford Hills area who is interested in starting a food collaboration to contact CEBE at 743-2101 or by email at [email protected]

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