NORWAY — The Alan Day Community Garden is a much busier place this summer with the return of an active agriculture education program for children and teens.

This year the Youth Leadership Program is being managed by AmeriCorps Vista Coordinator Pratt Olsen of Bethel and Reed Tinsley, Alan Day’s youth leadership coordinator.

Pratt Olsen shows kids the finer points of making pizza dough at the Alan Day Community Garden last Friday. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

Olsen and two of the young participants, Ben Langelier, 8, and Ben Cummings, 13, both of Norway, were busy in the kitchen preparing pizza dough last Friday morning. That evening, pizza would be baked in an outdoor oven and served during the farmers’ market that runs from 5 to 8 p.m.

In addition to learning about food preparation, the two boys help with gardening each day. On Friday mornings they put together 30 CSA shares that customers pick up at the market.

Three teens in the youth leadership program — Autumn Palmer of Oxford, Camden Colby of South Paris and Elizabeth Hussey of Norway — have been busy planting, weeding and mulching vegetable beds and fruit trees since the session started on July 7.

They cleared a space around each tree, removing grass and weeds, and replacing that with a mound of wood chips. The vegetation robs the trees of water and nutrients, the three explained. Adding mulch keeps the grass from returning and holds moisture in the ground so the trees get the nutrients and water they need to grow and produce.

The young gardeners strung up vine tomatoes in a small hoop house and weeded around a basil patch and young pepper plants. The basil harvest is underway and is being distributed to CSA members with their weekly shares, along with cilantro and garlic.

From left, Autumn Palmer, 13, of Oxford, Elizabeth Hussey, 13, of Norway and Camden Colby, 16, of South Paris take stock of work they just completed in one of the Alan Day Community Garden’s hoop houses. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

Olsen studied geology and environmental studies and decided to work at the community garden to work with food systems and learn about the human side of agriculture.

Tinsley, an Oxford Hills graduate, has volunteered and worked at Alan Day since the community garden opened 11 years ago. He has traveled to and worked on farms in Peru, Costa Rica, and the Caribbean nation of Dominica.

A farmers’ market takes place at the garden from 5 to 8 p.m. every Friday from now until Sept. 3.

A core of seven vendors participate and each week the market includes live music, food prepared at Alan Day or by other local kitchens, as well as food trucks.

For more information on the garden’s community partners and events schedule, visit the Alan Day Community Garden’s Facebook page at



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