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Grant Helps Grow Penobscot Community Garden Food Project

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An $8,100 grant from the Maine Community Foundation will help grow more fresh organic food for the Penobscot community on Indian Island.

The Peoples’ Garden began as a collaborative among multiple Penobscot Indian Nation governmental departments that were interested in finding ways to ensure food security for future generations. It is a volunteer, intergenerational community garden group located on Indian Island. The funds will be used to increase production and availability of fresh organic food for the Penobscot community while revitalizing community green space.

During summer 2011, a 30’x70’ high tunnel hoop house was erected at a site where a crumbling basketball court once existed. The court was removed, the site cleaned up, and the hoop house given to the community for a community garden.

The Maine Community Foundation is a 30-year-old statewide nonprofit created by and for the people of Maine. The foundation is a philanthropic leader in building sustainable and vibrant communities for all Maine people. Individuals, families, businesses, and organizations create charitable funds that help Maine meet the challenges of changing times. The foundation has assets of $318 million held in more than 1,400 different funds. The foundation’s Broad Reach Fund awarded the $8,100 grant to the Penobscots’ Peoples’ Garden.

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 “We are grateful that the Broad Reach Fund of the Maine Community Foundation supports our vision for a sustainable and healthy community,” Chief Kirk Francis said.

Garden volunteer Kathy Paul said the garden makes her feel grounded. “It gives me peace of mind. I feel connected to the earth when I’m here.” The community garden effort is coordinated by master gardeners Tami Connolly and Maria Girouard. 

The grant will support the creation of an “edible landscape” surrounding the hoop house consisting of fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, and herb gardens. It will also support further community education programs. The name of the garden – “the Peoples’ Garden” – compliments the ancient Penobscot name for Indian Island, “Alenapak Menahan” which translates as “The Peoples’ Island.”