Bath land trust to expand mission of 'LOCAL' garden

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BATH — A community garden has an expanded mission and longer calendar under new management by the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust.

The city’s “Leading Our Community in Agricultural Learning” garden, or LOCAL for short, for the past several years had been organized under the auspices of Regional School Unit 1, and was used as an outdoor classroom and school field trip destination.

But stewardship has passed to the land trust, which intends to offer the garden for year-round demonstrations, with programs and projects geared toward children and adults.

“It’s an urban garden, which is exciting for us,” KELT Executive Director Carrie Kinne said in an interview July 22, noting that while her organization has been focused on land protection, “this is another connection that I think will make a difference.”

While it is not a large garden, the produce will go to several organizations that serve all ages “and will make a difference,” Kinne said.

RSU 1 obtained the land on the south side of Bath at the corner of High and Lemont streets in 2009, thanks to private donations. The school district passed management of the garden to KELT this spring.

The site, which has 42 raised beds, is managed by part-time coordinators Laurie Burhoe and Dennis Doiron, with a labor force of mostly volunteers, according to a recent KELT press release. Log onto kennebecestuary.org for more information.

Under KELT’s auspices, work with local schools continues; nearly 300 students visited the garden during 14 field trips in May through early June, according to the land trust.

Harvests from the garden will go toward Bath’s summer meals programs, including the Bath Area Family YMCA’s Free Summer Meals for Kids and Teens, which serves breakfast and lunch through Aug. 26.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Becky Kolak, program director with the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, chats with a young visitor at Bath’s LOCAL garden in July.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.