Harvesting thousands of pounds of vegetables at Swanville’s Reentry Center garden
Most of you are familiar with the Garden Project that the Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center operates on Route 141 in Swanville. A brief history of the garden would be that it was developed four years ago on five acres of leased land and the clients of the Reentry Center would volunteer time each week to assist me (I also am a volunteer) in the operation of this project.
The first year the garden project produced 7,000 pounds of fresh vegetables. The second year, the garden generated 11,000 pounds and the third year we produced 20,000 pounds of fresh vegetables. This year, through the Reentry Center clients and myself, 26,200 pounds of fresh vegetables were harvested. This produce was shipped to approximately 20 entities in Waldo County; these being food cupboards, Senior Spectrum, the Game Loft, a few churches, etc.
I would like to report that the clients from the Reentry Center are extremely proud of this project and are very pleased to have the opportunity to give something back to the citizens of Waldo County. For example, there is one client who has volunteered for every single shift in the garden since the day he came to the Reentry Center.
The garden project has proven to be more successful than we ever realized it would be. The clients from the Reentry Center have been dependable, willing and cooperative in making this project successful, and we thank them for that. The really good thing that we like about this project is the hundreds of pounds of vegetables that we are able to ship each week to the food cupboards and other entities that we supply. It’s not uncommon for us to produce and ship a ton of fresh vegetables a week during the height of the growing season. For example, one day we picked 1,000 cucumbers in one shift, which is just one vegetable, and we are, on average, picking two to six different vegetables a day.
We receive many expressions of appreciation in the form of cards from citizens thanking us for the produce that they receive each week. Also, I would like to note and thank Sheriff Scott Story, who has been a staunch supporter of this project from day one, and Corporal Christopher Albert who has been very active in keeping schedules organized and changed at a moment’s notice. Special thanks to Bill Browning, who has the task of seeing that these vegetables arrive on time and at the right location three days a week.
Bill Shorey, a Searsport resident, is Chairman of the Board of Waldo County Commissioners and Project Manager of the MCRCC Waldo County Garden Project.