Freeport learning center expanding to meet demand

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FREEPORT — Angela Garrison had what she thought was a winning business model when she began planning an early childhood education and care center.

Just two years later, Garrison’s Beansprouts Early Learning Childcare Center, on Lower Main Street, broke ground Nov. 4 on an expansion of 2,200 square feet.

Bouffard and McFarland Builders of Auburn began taking down the big slope between the street and the existing building to make space for two more classrooms, an indoor gymnasium and an office on the main floor. Garrison also will remodel the 4,300 square feet of space on the property that she purchased earlier this year.

It all points to the fact that her concept of an early childhood facility that features fresh, organic meals and focuses on nature is a hit with the public.

Her mother, Debra Harris, was on hand as Garrison pitched a ceremonial first spade into peonies that, to her regret, had to go. Garrison, who lives in Yarmouth, thought all along that the location – on the U.S. Route 1 corridor not far from Portland – was ideal for such a venture.

“Location is a big part of it, but I think our unique offering, where we’re so nature-based with the health component, is the main thing,” Garrison said. “And (the children) are learning and growing.”

Beansprouts Learning Center opened in July 2013, with seven children. The facility is now “maxed out,” Garrison said, with 54. There are 12 full-time instructors in programs that include children from infancy through pre-kindergarten.

“We have a wait list that’s about a year long,” Garrison said.

Once the addition is complete early next spring, Beansprouts will offer new programs for children through age 12, including before- and after-school care and summer camps. Walls will be added where there are artificial dividers, flooring will be updated to more kid-friendly options and new plumbing for sinks and toilets will be installed.

“The goal is more quality instead of quantity,” Garrison said. “We’re spreading the existing space out.”

Keith McBride, executive director of the Freeport Economic Development Corp., worked with Garrison since the beginning, when she was unsure where to locate and needed assistance with permitting. McBride is impressed with her foresight.

“She saw a need because she’s a parent herself and wanted something particular for her children and couldn’t find it anywhere else,” McBride said. “In order to make it happen, she had to do it herself. She didn’t have professional marketing or anything.”

McBride said that Garrison is “really doubling down” with the Beansprouts expansion.

“What impresses me is her drive and her belief in the idea,” he said. “She believed in it.”

Angela Garrison, founder and owner of Beansprouts Early Learning Childcare Center in Freeport, does a ceremonial groundbreaking in a patch of peonies earlier this month, as expansion of the facility begins.