AUBURN — Good Food Council of Lewiston-Auburn celebrated the first anniversary of the Lewiston-Auburn Community Food Charter and the beginning of spring on May 6 at Whiting Farm. 

The Charter was launched in order to highlight the city’s community food values and build support for  sustainable local food system.

GFCLA Chairwoman Karen Bolduc and Coordinator Julia Harper highlighted five activities of L-A area groups who are each an example of “living” the five major Charter principles.

The first Food Charter principle is “striving for a food-secure future.” As an example of supporting this, Harper described the efforts of the St. Mary’s Nutrition Center, the city of Auburn, and many other partners for a successful collaboration that led to the establishment of Auburn’s first community garden last season.

In its first year, 21 families and three organizations tended plots in Webster Street Community Garden. An end-of-season survey indicated that 67 percent of gardeners surveyed reported an increase in household vegetable consumption, 73 percent reported that they feel more connected to community and neighbors, and 80 percent reported that they have greater confidence in growing their own food.

As an example of the second Food Charter principle, “supporting local and sustainable agriculture,” Harper highlighted the Somali Bantu Community Association (SBCA) for connecting and supporting over 80 Bantu farmers to cultivate agriculture land in the L-A area, including 9.6 acres currently leased at Whiting Farm. SBCA is a Lewiston-based nonprofit led by Bantu people that provides mutual aid, education and integration services to their members.

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The third Food Charter principle encourages “enabling leadership by all members of the community” and as an example, Bolduc highlighted the Center for Wisdom’s Women (CWW) for their Peasant Pantry community meal program. The CWW is a weekday drop-in center in downtown Lewiston that helps women break isolation and build community. Peasant Pantry is a once monthly prepared basic meal from a different culture of the world. Each month the women at the CWW prepare this meal, learn about the food they are preparing, and the culture whose food they are eating. The prepared meal is open to anyone in the community, people pay what they can and any extra income is given to the team of women who prepared the meal.

The fourth principle of the Food Charter is “elevating good food policy” and Bolduc recognized the city of Lewiston for their recent Comprehensive Plan, Legacy Lewiston, for speaking to the necessity of protecting rural lands from development for use of agriculture. The plan also indicates that CSAs, farmers’ markets and local food movements are elements that should be prioritized to create economic vitality.

The last principle of the Food Charter is “preserving working landscapes,” or farms, and “development of community infrastructure” and as an example, Harper recognized R. Belanger & Son’s Farm for continuing a third-generation family farm that has 200 acres of cultivated land in Lewiston and Auburn, and provides jobs that support 17 families. They are also an example of supporting successful community infrastructure by maintaining a USDA GAP certified facility, which allows them to be a supplier of “Close to Home” produce in 10 area Hannaford supermarkets. As such, they are one of the area leaders in farming for wholesale. This gives local supermarket shoppers the option to purchase local food.

GFCLA seeks community members to completea form to endorse the charter and show their commitment to improving the local food system.

FMI: goodfood4la.org.

Somali Bantu Community Association members and farmers check on the progress of their vegetable seedlings at Whiting Farm’s Spring Opening and First Anniversary of the L-A Community Food Charter. They are, from left, Khadija Ibrahim, SBCA Farmer; Muhidin Libah, SBCA Executive Director; and Hassan Barjim, SBCA Farmer.

Celebrating the Spring Opening of Whiting Farm and First Anniversary of the L-A Community Food Charter are, from left, Kim Finnerty, Director of Whiting Farm and Good Food Council of L-A member; Klara Tammany, Executive Director of the Center for Wisdom’s Women; and Julia Harper, Coordinator of the GFCLA.


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