The Food Studies Program is fortunate to have numerous community partners working to address the hunger and nutritional needs of our community. With these profiles, we hope to highlight the work of those partners.
PORTLAND – Founded in 2001, Cultivating Community creates access to healthy, local food; empowers community members to play many roles in supporting the local, sustainable food system; and models, teaches, and advocates for ecological food production.
The organization focuses on establishing and sustaining healthy food access points, farmer training, and garden-based education. Through their network of farm stands, including the Good Food Bus, Cultivating Community has opened up new points of healthy food access to people at all levels of income. Partnerships have been created to provide training for refugee and immigrant farmers through the New American Sustainable Agriculture Project and garden-based education through the Portland Public Schools, the City of Portland’s community gardens program, and the organization’s own teen program. Cultivating Community advocates for everyone who is interested to have the opportunity to become involved in gardening through their management of growing spaces in both Cumberland and Androscoggin counties.
Cultivating Community suggests the following ways to strengthen the local food system: volunteer with local gardening/farming projects and food access programs; buy as much local food as you can and, when you can, buy directly from producers; grow some of your own food if you can; support the minimum wage initiatives and other measures that allow all people to earn enough to eat well; and support sustainable growing projects, healthy food access projects, and farmland protection in your community.
The Cultivating Community Youth Growers grow, harvest, and deliver thousands of dollars worth of healthy produce to elders and others in need each summer while learning job skills and advocating for food justice for all.
Some of the 600 gardeners in the City of Portland's community gardens program, which Cultivating Community manages, practice the no-dig technique of garden construction that is often called lasagna layering.
Hussein Muktar, a longtime farmer from Somalia and the manager of Cultivating Community's 36 acres at Packard-Littlefield Farm, surveys the property with his son.