There are many community-based organizations that provide Lewiston-Auburn residents with food, skills, knowledge, and tools, that increase access to nutrition. Each organization is an important piece of the community food puzzle. The challenge is how to knit these valuable programs together to make a more efficient overall system. The list below includes many, but not all of the community-based programs serving the area. Please be in touch if you’d like to be added to this list.
Run by Cultivating Community, currently based primarily at the Packard-Littlefield Farm in Lisbon, ME, this refugee and immigrant farmer-training program empowers New Americans to launch independent farm businesses, to adopt new leadership roles in the community, and to attain increased economic independence for themselves and their families.
The NC houses Lots to Gardens, which has built community gardens and green spaces in Lewiston since 1999. Today there are over 12 community gardens for more than 115 families and seniors. LTG and other programs of the NC help young people in L-A become leaders and build skills for shaping their community. Through cooking classes, the NC teaches people of all ages cooking skills and healthy food tips. Classes are free or donation-based and open to the public. The center also runs the St. Mary’s Food Pantry, and is a FoodCorps site, supporting school gardens and garden-based nutrition education in Lewiston and Auburn.
AF2S Network’s vision is to build a stronger relationship between students and the food they eat, demonstrating to them what real food is and how it grows. The network’s goals include identifying viable strategies for Auburn and Lewiston (and other county districts) to manage school gardens, increase availability of garden-based education in classrooms and develop tailored sustainability strategies that build upon local assets, and to assess current procurement landscape and identify needs and strategies to address those needs that would increase local procurement. Join their email list for F2S updates and opportunities!
A colorful mobile food market bringing fresh vegetables, fruit, and other essential food items directly to where people live, work, and play, with stops in Lewiston-Auburn and Southern Maine. Part of their mission is to support, promote, and create new markets for local farmers in Maine. Shopping with the GFB not only supports local agriculture, but helps to reach their goal to increasing healthy food access to all. The GFB accepts cash, credit, debit, WIC, and SNAP/EBT and participates in the Maine Harvest Bucks program, which provides free fruit and vegetable vouchers for SNAP shoppers when they use their SNAP benefits to make purchases. The GFB is part of Good Food Moves, a mobile food initiative founded by St. Mary’s Nutrition Center, Cultivating Community, and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation.
The SBCA, located in Lewiston, works to assist members of the refugee community at large on housing, employment, literacy and education, health, and safety matters. This includes empowering children and families to achieve lifelong success through personal and social change, by providing them with information about how to connect to a new life in the United States. One of many programs of the SBCA is supporting New Mainer farmers with access to land, technical assistance, and culturally-appropriate on-site training. This program has expanded to over 135 farmers with growing operations in Lewiston, Auburn, and New Gloucester.
A resource for local residents to access research and expertise on nutrition, food, sustainable agriculture and business management. The extension teaches a Master Gardeners program and offers youth development programs, such as 4-H. They have an office in Lisbon serving Androscoggin and Sagadahoc counties.
HA, located in Lewiston, empowers people to live healthy lifestyles and to improve the public health of the communities it serves through ongoing planning, community action, education, and advocacy. Through SNAP-Ed Nutrition Education, HA provides education and resources to low income community members including grocery tours to learn how to shop on a budget, cooking classes for adults and teens, nutrition education at schools and childcare centers, and nutrition education for seniors. Check out this video about HA’s impact through the Maine SNAP-Ed program classes. In order to promote exercise and aid in transportation, HA also works to create more walkable and bikeable communities.
Through land conservation and stewardship, ALT protects natural areas, traditional landscapes, and outdoor experience in the Androscoggin River watershed. Preserving valuable farmland and working farms is part of the organization’s mission. The trust works with landowners throughout Androscoggin County to conserve approximately 1,000 acres of farmland through lands it owns and conservation easements on lands it leases. Trust-owned farmland is leased to local farmers to ensure that active prime and statewide significant agricultural soils continue to be worked. The group works closely with the statewide farmland conservation group Maine Farmland Trust to conserve additional farmland, including the 650-acre River Rise Farm in Turner.
With several staff based in the L-A area, CDI supports people having economic control through worker, producer, harvester, consumer, and multi-stakeholder cooperatives. Through their Cooperative Food Systems program, they support people in developing cooperatives and collaboration from farm and sea to table in all aspects of the food system including farming, fishing, processing, value-added, purchasing, food hubs, distribution, marketing, food co-ops, buying clubs, restaurants, food service management, equipment, labor, land access, and more. CDI works with established and start-up cooperatives, and with existing businesses that are interested in converting to a cooperative.
Owned and operated by John F. Murphy Homes, Whiting Farm is a working four season farm in Auburn dedicated to community enrichment, education, and the support of people with disabilities. In addition to a seasonal farm stand offering fresh produce and greenhouses offering annual and perennial flowers and herbs, Whiting partners with countless organizations, businesses, school groups, etc. to offer educational and wellness programming, including a popular Children’s Gardening Summer Day Camp. In 2018, Whiting is launching Fields for Families, an effort to dedicate 5 acres of fresh vegetables for gleaning to be donated to food insecure families.
The CWW is a weekday drop-in center in downtown Lewiston that helps women break isolation and build community. The CWW operates the Peasant Pantry Café – a once-monthly prepared subsistence 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 that prepared the meal.
Check out our listing of local farms that offer CSA’s, or Community Supported Agriculture programs. CSA “shares” are usually offered for sale in the form of a box or bag of fresh produce and farm products provided once per week to shareholders during the growing season.