Model Community Food Garden Hanging on by it's Roots:
Model Community Food Garden under seige:
NEEDS WATER NOW.
Please see interview video LINK with Connie bellet below:
Food security is a real concern for many families in our country.
At least 50 families in the community of Palermo, Maine depend upon obtaining daily food/vegetables from Connie and Phil's model Community Food Garden and Food Pantry.
Interviewing Connie Bellet at the Community Garden in Palermo Maine
Connie and Phil have been the garden's keepers on an ongoing basis, since 2002. Any donations will be used directly and only, for a crucial water well dug (400 feet) and installed to supply the food garden with water, which has been illegally cut off. A well of 400 feet must be dug immediately. Funds are needed right away to help Connie and Phil pay off a personal loan they
have had to take out to have the well installed on the property. This monetary support means that the garden will survive, families will not starve, and Connie and Phil can pay off the $12,000.00 loan so food insecure families will continue to have access to healthy food and vegetables. Many people and families will benefit and this support means the world to Connie and Phil who just want to keep it going. But the food garden NEEDS WATER. Not to mention water just to drink and bathe. And water for them right now is very hard to come by.
Their daily water supply has been ILLEGALLY cut off by the local American Legion. Phil, who is now turning 80, travels every day to haul the minimum 25 gallons of water at 7:00 AM, from a spigot down the road to water the garden.
Here is more detailed info in a recent ARTICLE written by Julia Muench:
Model Food Garden Hangs on in Maine While Crucial Water Supply is Cut Off:
July 31, 2017 Palermo, Maine: Population 1530 Average per capita income: $26,660
Food is Life, Water is Life, but, food needs water to grow. Seems so simple, doesn’t it? Sustainability, food security, food deserts, are situation terms that we hear about over and over in the news, but who out there is actually getting to the core of doing something about it, and making a difference? Recently, I had the privilege of visiting and talking with Community Garden keepers, Connie Bellet and Phil White Hawk, in Palermo, Maine.
Since 2002, the large and varied Community Garden in Palermo, Maine has been feeding around 50 families in the area of Palermo, according to Connie Bellet, Master Gardener Volunteer, and keeper, along with her husband, Phil White Hawk.
To be clear, this is a FOOD garden: vegetables and herbs. We all have heard about what food security (or insecurity) is, and what food deserts are, in this day and age. This community food garden in Palermo, Maine, is a model for solving this problem at a local level that could work in many of our communities. Connie and Phil moved to Unity, Maine in 1997, and then to Palermo in1998, to help run the Palermo Community Foundation. They started the Community Garden next to it, in 2002. The garden has been a crucial supplement to the food pantry and open to anyone in Palermo who needs food from it. This is alongside the Palermo Food Pantry, which is housed in the Palermo Community Foundation building. “I wish we could feed more than 50 families, but we need the water to do it.”, says 80 year old Phil, who travels to a local water spigot every morning and hauls the 25 gallons of water (minimum) needed to keep his home and the Community Center going. “We have a friend over in Augusta, 30 miles away, who actually built a large wooden crate to haul 100 gallons of water for the Community Garden,” says Connie. “Whatta guy!”
“We use an average of 25 gallons a day, including our basic water needs to live, whereas the average American uses three or four times as much, says Connie. We are very, very conservative with water. We collect water from rain barrels to flush the toilets at home and in the Food Pantry,” There hasn’t been much rain for a while. So why all the hassle just to get 125 gallons, to water a large garden and personal needs? Because their water supply has been illegally cut off on April 23rd. And yes, in addition to a natural drought occurring, the local American Legion (Malcolm Glidden American Legion Post 163) has decided to refuse to connect a water supply to the rented property that supplies water to the food garden. Why would an organization which has the purpose of fostering patriotism and responsible citizenship, decide to completely cut off this water supply? Because the Community food Garden is in the way of a business plan the American Legion has to construct yet another storage unit facility with a parking lot. Like people need to store more of their stuff rather than eat. It’s about business it seems, over helping people in need in the nearby community who rely upon this food daily. Palermo, ME, has a $26,657 per capita income as of 2015. Not sure why people would even be able to buy storage units when they are having a tough time getting food. You would think that war veterans would understand this concept. Connie and Phil have been in a battle to save the Community Food Garden for the past 7 years over their water rights on the land. They just want to continue with their work helping others. This is a labor of love for them, not for any monetary gains. In fact, they have had to take out a personal loan of $12,000.00 to have a 400 foot deep well drilled on Foundation property, which they will have to somehow pay off now. No retirement on the horizon for these folks. Yet, they persevere. Maine has never been an easy state to grow food in, because of the short growing season (May through August) and the soil is mostly full of rocks left over from the glacial ice sheets scraping off the topsoil covering the area over 11,000 years ago. Mainers know how to create their own organic soil, mostly from composting. Connie and Phil even raise their own redworms to help with that task. © 2017 Julia Muench A favorite African story of Phil’s he told me: There was a terrible fire on the savannah, and all the animals were running and the little hummingbird would fly over to the river and get a little drop of water and put it on the fire. The elephant would say, “ What are you doing? That’s not going to stop or diminish the fire!” And the little hummingbird said, “Yes, but, I do what I can.”
- Donna Brouillette
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- Kathy & Michael Scandling
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