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

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

It is not just people taking care of Buckfield’s new community garden. From left, Annika Noonan, 4, Jen Noonan, Alba the kid goat, Adelaide Cooper, Jess Cooper, Josie the nanny goat. Supplied photo

“We’re calling it the Nezinscot Food Collaborative,” explained Volunteer Garden Coordinator Jess Cooper. “There was a one-acre garden space at the school already. In recent years students would plant mostly pumpkin and squash. But over the summer they didn’t really have a way to tend to it.

“So we have invited gardeners from the community to start a food network and work the garden through harvest. I am working with Annette Caldwell, the garden advisor for the school, and Jen Noonan, a neighbor to the school who has a small farm and has wanted to expand.”

The three gathered with volunteers at the school on June 6 to work the ground and start planting. Cooper said there are currently about a dozen, including students, working to get the Nezinscot Food Collaborative going. Noonan is also pressing her goats, a nanny named Josie and kid named Alba, into service. Their job is to graze around the garden to keep weeds down and eliminate cover for garden-busting rodents.

CEBE of Norway is locating a new community garden, using underutilized cropland and a farm stand at Buckfield Junior-Senior High School Supplied photo

Another plus to locating the community garden at the school is that it already has a farm stand onsite, making it easy work to put fresh produce out for sale.

“We have two focuses – providing access to locally grown fresh food, but also leasing plots to residents so they can plant their own produce,” said Cooper. “This is a new model for CEBE. We’re using the Alan Day Community Garden in Norway as a guide. And we want to eventually expand this movement to other communities, likely through space at schools and churches.”

Cooper urges anyone in the Oxford Hills area who is interested in started a food collaborative should contact CEBE at 743-2101 or email at [email protected]

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