The LOCAL Garden, managed by the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust since 2016, is not only growing local food but growing the skills and knowledge of local students. Located just off High Street in south Bath, the demonstration garden is dedicated to community engagement through educational opportunities for people of all ages, as well as food donations to local residents.
This past summer, Elizabeth Schotten, a Morse High School student, volunteered her time at the LOCAL Garden as part of an independent project for the Morse STEAM Academy, a learning initiative focused on science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.
On her first day, Schotten took up the task of renovating the keyhole garden. A keyhole garden, originally called an African Kitchen Garden, is a self-sustaining, efficient design that distributes moisture and nutrients from decomposing compost to adjacent growing plants.
With the guidance of Laurie Burhoe, LOCAL Garden Coordinator, and Charlotte Thompson, KELT’s operations coordinator, Schotten pulled weeds, built the rock wall encompassing the keyhole garden, and added a compost basket in the center.
“I was happy to take on this project, the completion of it was extremely rewarding,” Schotten said. “Although, my interests in biology are more healthcare based, I enjoyed exploring a different branch of the subject I love.”
The LOCAL Garden stands for “Leading Our Community in Agricultural Learning” and is an extension of KELT’s goal to protect agricultural land in the region.
The garden contains 42 raised beds maintained by two part-time garden coordinators and volunteers. This year, over 500 local students have ventured into the LOCAL Garden to learn about gardening in addition to volunteering to plant and harvest food and flowers.
Over 900 pounds of produce have been donated to local area partners, such as Bath Housing and the Bath Middle School’s annual “Harvest Dinner.”
Sarah Dorval from Brunswick, who is majoring in interior design, participated in a study abroad experience with the College of Design at Iowa State University, traveling to the Venice Art Biennale in October. Dorval was in a group of 38 ISU students majoring in graphic design, interior design, and integrated studio arts who developed an installation titled “Joyful Uncertainty” for the Biennale Sessions Workshop. The students created self-portraits using type and/or original imagery on larger-than-life-sized cutout silhouettes.
Elizabeth Schotten, of Brunswick, who worked in the LOCAL garden for KELT last summer, adds compost to the Keyhole Garden this fall.