Lee Holman at home in Hartford. Holman is a community leader in the rural Maine town. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

HARTFORD — Lee Holman has a simple guiding philosophy: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Lee Holman stands in her kitchen in Hartford. “You can be isolated or you can be a good neighbor,” she says. Holman is active in her community both in person and online. She uses very little electricity at home, relying primarily on kerosene lamps for light. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

She has been that change for 46 years.

Holman, 65, moved from Lewiston to Hartford in 1975 to pursue her passions: farming and community service. She bought a “decrepit” farm with the plan of becoming a homesteader.

“I am passionate about food, home-raised food, food preservation and food security,” she said in a recent interview.

She owns Whippoorwill Hill Farm on remote Labrador Pond Road, where she raises herbs and vegetables for food and medicine, and pastured poultry for eggs and meat.

She has served on the Selectboard in her small town, population 1,209, since 2003 and will complete her fifth term this coming spring.

She also served on the town Budget Committee and on the Oxford County Budget Advisory Committee, an elected position made up of Selectboard members from throughout the county, for 12 years.

In her capacity as a farmer, she has been a member of the Fare Share Co-op board of directors several times.

Fare Share is a natural-foods cooperative based in Norway. It describes itself as a grocery store, a meeting place, a wellness resource, a buy-local opportunity.

Holman believes community participation is a responsibility.

“I honestly believed that I owed it to my adopted hometown to participate,” Holman said. “I suppose it made me feel like a I belong here. In fact, it still does.”

That sense of belonging feeds a deep community spirit, as anyone who knows Holman would agree.

She is a frequent donor on the local Buy Nothing Facebook page, created as a way for people to give back to their community. Its motto: “Let’s help each other.”

Lee Holman lives at the end of a long, dead-end road in Hartford, where she has a small farm. She serves on the town’s Selectboard. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Holman over the past few months has donated dozens of items, including a French press, tap shoes, an apple baker and a wicker bassinet and changing table.

She has accumulated a lot of stuff over the years, she said.

And she is happy to share her stuff — and her time.

“I feel pretty strongly about participation and support for my small town,” she said. “Small towns in Maine are such a blessing. People from away move here for their own reasons, but I think they often don’t recognize — sometimes even folks born and raised here don’t, either — that we have a true gem here.”

Everyone in a small town can weigh in on budgets, ordinances and other important decisions, she said, which makes small-town government a true democracy.

And everyone is responsible for participating.

“When I hear people complaining bitterly about their town, which they certainly do — social media makes it so easy — I always want to remind them that when you live in a small town it’s not US versus the town. We ARE the town,” Holman said.

“And if not, it’s because we’ve given away our most precious right of participation.”

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