Viles Arboretum is excited to announce we have been awarded a $10,000 grant to launch its new Community Agriculture Program (CAP). The funding from the Maine Community Foundation’s Community Building grant program will significantly improve community health and alleviate food insecurity among local families.
CAP, originally a community garden, is being moved to a new location and will undergo substantial upgrades including the installation of fencing and irrigation systems. The enhanced site will increase the number of available gardening plots, the size of each plot, and improve soil quality, maximizing the yield of each participant's garden.
The space will continue to be open to the general public, but will now seek to identify food insecure families who may not have been served by the program in the past. These participants will receive access to land, essential gardening tools, and a free six-week training course covering topics from soil preparation to food harvesting and storage. With the aim of reaching approximately 270 individuals, CAP is making strides to reduce food insecurity in the community.
"Our aim is to remove the barriers that have kept our neighbors from accessing fresh and nutritious foods," said Ryan Martin, Executive Director at Viles Arboretum. "By upgrading our facilities and expanding our capacity, we're making homegrown, healthy fruits and vegetables a reality for more families."
Additionally, the Arboretum has forged formal partnerships with Augusta Food Bank, Capitol Area New Mainers Project, and Healthy Communities of the Capital Area. These collaborations ensure targeted outreach to food-insecure residents and integration of evidence-based nutrition education into the CAP curriculum.