University of Maine Cooperative Extension educators and garden specialists Barbara Murphy and Diana Hibbard were interviewed for a Portland-area KeepMECurrent news report on community gardens and UMaine Extension’s Harvest for Hunger program, which generated more than 293,000 pounds of produce for soup kitchens, homeless shelters and individuals last year.
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Foster’s Daily Democrat reported on a meeting with Maine native, current U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Kevin Concannon and University of Maine Cooperative Extension educators Barb Murphy and Frank Wertheim and others in the Partners for a Hunger-Free York County collaborative. They met in Alfred, Maine, to discuss efforts to end hunger in York County and how the USDA can help.
In a story about employee-managed corporate gardens, the Portland Press Herald featured University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Harvest for Hunger program and UMaine Extension educator Barbara Murphy, who helps run the program. Murphy said hunger in Maine is usually represented by poor nutrition resulting from people not having the money to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, which is the niche Harvest for Hunger is trying to fill. The story also included a UMaine-produced video about the IDEXX Laboratories’ gardens.
An opinion column in the weekend edition of the Bangor Daily News by University of Maine Cooperative Extension Director John Rebar discussed the resurgence of farming in Maine and the role UMaine Extension researchers play in helping farmers and food producers with the latest science-based advice and agricultural methodology, in addition to nutritional food choice options for the public. In the past decade, Rebar writes, Maine has seen the number of farms grow by 1,000 and 1.3 million acres are now in agricultural use.
The Lewiston Sun Journal has a story about Trevor Doiron, a 13-year-old from Jay, who is starting a community garden and will eventually report the produce to Maine Harvest for Hunger, a program run by University of Maine Cooperative Extension. The story noted that Doiron has met with Lauren St. Germain from UMaine Extension in Farmington, and St. Germain gave him tips on how where to solicit discounted materials and ideas about funding sources.
UMaine Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardener Volunteers program was mentioned in a story on the website of the weekly Kennebunk Post. The story, which is about an upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration in Kennebunk, notes guest speaker Kathy Landrum, a social activist, went through the Master Gardener program in 2010. Landrum said the program inspired her to use her skills in horticulture to grow food for the hungry.
After receiving and updating final totals for this year’s Harvest for Hunger campaign, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension gardening program coordinator says volunteer gardeners around the state donated more than 140 tons of garden produce to charity.
“Thanks to everyone’s effort, we have exceeded our goal of 250,000 pounds,” says Extension educator Barbara Murphy in the South Paris Oxford County office. “I am speechless. My heartfelt thanks for all of the terrific work.”
Murphy, who coordinates the program, had announced her gratitude several weeks ago that preliminary results indicated 90 tons — 180,000 pounds — of fresh fruits and vegetables were donated this year. The final figure is now 140 tons, or 280,076 pounds.
Nearly 500 volunteer gardeners in about a dozen counties this year donated produce to 114 food pantries, shelters or charitable organizations around the state. Murphy also revised upwards the value of the produce to $473,328, from $303,713 earlier.
The number of participants more than doubled from 200 in 2010 and the number of organizations benefiting from the gardeners’ generosity more than tripled, from 45 last year.
Contact: Barbara Murphy, 743-6329, 1-800-287-1482 (toll-free in Maine)
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Maine Harvest for Hunger Program this year generated 179,712 pounds of fresh garden produce donated to charity by volunteer gardeners around the state.
Nearly 500 volunteer gardeners in about a dozen counties this year donated the nearly 90 tons of vegetables and fruit to 114 food pantries, shelters or charitable organizations around the state, according to Extension educator Barbara Murphy in the South Paris Oxford County office. Murphy, who oversees the program, values the produce at $303,713, based on a sales price averaging $1.69 per pound.
The number of participants more than doubled from 200 in 2010 and the number of organizations benefiting from the gardeners’ generosity more than tripled, from 45 last year. Murphy calculated that farmers and gardeners collectively logged 5,890 hours in this year’s Harvest for Hunger effort.
Murphy considers the program, which is still receiving donated produce as the growing season winds down, highly successful given the challenging, if not poor, growing conditions throughout much of the summer. Inconsistent rain, combined with hot, dry periods, took an especially large toll on winter squash, “which always adds tons to the totals,” she says.
Donated fruits and vegetables have increased in volume each year, as has the number of gardeners participating, in addition to the need, Murphy says. Since 2000, volunteers have donated almost 542 tons of fresh produce to the Extension’s Harvest for Hunger program.
For information and details on future participation, Murphy can be reached by email at email@example.com or by telephone at 1-800-287-1482 in Maine.
Participating counties producing the most produce for the program are listed in order: Kennebec, Penobscot, York, Oxford, Washington, Hancock, Franklin, Cumberland, and Knox, Waldo and Lincoln combined, Piscataquis and Somerset.
In addition, Highmoor Farm in Monmouth and university experimental gardens contributed more than 6 tons. Murphy says with as much as 20,000 pounds anticipated from Androscoggin and Penobscot counties, the grand total could reach 100 tons, the amount donated in 2010.