Bowdoinham farm hopes to cultivate community from Portland to Augusta

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BOWDOINHAM — The Dancing Cricket Farm is kicking off an endeavor to provide people from Portland to Augusta with top-notch organic vegetables, flowers and herbs through environmentally friendly and sustainable farming practices.

The 75-acre farm is the flagship project of the Center for Ecological and Cultural Living Arts, a new non-profit organization focused on multiple-resource management, ecological sustainability, community building through cultural and education programs, and organic farming on a small scale.

Dave Santillo of Yarmouth, who chairs the center’s board of directors, said last week that he sees the farm being inclusive of many people’s ideas.

“(If) someone has an idea they want to do … either a project on the land, and start a cultivated mushroom small little plot … or they want to come and do a counseling program with troubled youth, this is a place that … our doors are going to be open, our facilities are going to be open, and we’re just going to be excited about that,” Santillo said. “The goal is for it to become a real outlet for community.”

The farm offers those who join its Community Supported Agriculture program a selection each week of local, organic and fresh herb and vegetable varieties, as well as annual membership with the center and access to its workshops, classes and day programs.

“We see farming as a cornerstone of our operation; a cornerstone that’s bound to the ecological resources on the land, as well as to our neighbors who share our crops and use the water downstream,” Santillo said.

A pole barn will be soon built at the farm, and a cultural and ecological center, a venue for a variety of events, is also in the plans.

“Our goal is to develop a great location that’s in a pastoral setting,” Santillo said, “that is accessible to anyone who wants to use it.”

Nick Costello, a Yarmouth resident who will soon graduate from the University of Vermont, will manage the farm. The farm will be staffed by paid employees, interns and volunteers who want to reap experience in natural resource management and organic farming.

Meanwhile, the center will offer educational programs, workshops and internships on topics concerning ecology, agriculture and “country living” in general. Through its ties to indigenous farms and craftsmen in several Latin American countries, the center is implementing partnership programs to trade skills and create sustainable development that does not exploit the cultures and land of those countries.

“We want to be good stewards of the land, and put more healthy food into the local network,” Santillo said, “and we want to celebrate that experience with as many people as possible.”

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Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or

Dave Santillo of Yarmouth is among the people behind Dancing Cricket Farm in Bowdoinham, which strives to provide people from Portland to Augusta with quality organic vegetables, flowers and herbs through environmentally friendly and sustainable farming practices.

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.