Originally published in Castine Patriot, April 23, 2020 and Island Ad-Vantages, April 23, 2020
Hands of Hope offers help to grow Victory gardens
A local grassroots organization is taking proactive measures to ensure that the Blue Hill Peninsula has food security in the upcoming months. Hands of Hope is a Peninsula-based volunteer group that works with local families in need. While most of their work focuses on meeting basic needs, this pandemic has caused the group to anticipate needs before they may occur.
“Connecting people with food security has always been the underlying backbone of the work that we do,” volunteer Jessica Valdez of Sedgwick said in a press release, “but this pandemic has forced us to think outside of any of our past work.”
Hands of Hope’s newest campaign is an old approach, encouraging and equipping individuals and families to start their own Victory gardens. They are also encouraging local, more experienced gardeners to consider planting a few extra plants and will be connecting them with local food distribution networks throughout the summer, such as The Magic Food Bus.
Through the support of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Hands of Hope’s Victory Garden campaign now has free seeds available to local families in need that would like to start their own vegetable garden. Local gardening experts and the Extension will also be sharing ongoing advice to first-time gardeners through the Facebook page set up specifically for the campaign.
“We have created a forum that encourages people to not only be planting and thinking about how they can maintain a supply of fresh fruit and vegetables, but that allows us a way to come together as a community in a new socially distant way. This is a way for us to connect and share ideas, problem solve and hopefully share the fruits of our labor,” said Valdez.
“We are excited to see some unexpected support for the new program already,” said Jennifer Larrabee, volunteer and Stonington resident. “I think many of us feel helpless during this shelter at home period. Having something simple like starting seedlings allows us to feel like we are helping in some small way.”
Anyone wishing to participate or get more information should contact Hands of Hope at email@example.com or call 259-3942.