by Joseph Charpentier
Published in the Boothbay Register on May 21, 2019
Twin Villages Food Bank Farm co-founders Megan Taft and Sara Cawthon won the second annual Innovation Award presented by the Coulombe Center for Health Improvement. The recipients were awarded at the Boothbay Harbor Oceanside Golf Resort and received $3,000 to continue their efforts to combat food insecurity in the Lincoln County area.
CCHI Program Manager Anni Pat McKenney presented the award. She explained it illustrates the type of work CCHI holds in high regard. McKenney said CCHI was pleased to have five nominations in the past year. LincolnHealth’s Kelly Creamer, Jim Stevens, Christine Henson and Cathy Cole were on the selection committee which also had community members Haley Bezon, last year’s recipient, and Holly Stover. Other nominations included Nancy Van Dyke of Food for Thought, Eric Duffy of Lincoln Academy, Meagan Hamblett of CLC YMCA, and Charlie Richardson of Kieve Wavus.
McKenney said TVFF impressed the selection committee with its wide impact to Lincoln County and for supporting the county’s youngest to its eldest. The committee also noted TVFBF partners with several of the other nominees, said McKenney.
CLC YMCA’s Director of Operations Casey Clark Kelley nominated TVFBF. “They are a partner who encourages synergy of collaboration working alongside others instead of in their own silos,” wrote Kelley in her letter of support.
Also providing letters of support were Gretchen Burleigh-Johnson, a Wiscasset-based food pantry director, and the evening’s keynote speaker, Kristin Miale, President of Good Shepherd Food-Bank.
Taft spoke on behalf of TVFF with her and her partner Cawthon’s daughter Adley who could barely peek above the podium. Taft said she did not want to sound cliché should she win the award, so she decided she would share a piece of wisdom Adley has held onto over the past year:
“Adley has taught us that life is about filling your bucket and finding those moments of joy and happiness. This is one of them.”
Adley’s lesson came from her school’s guidance counselor: Haley Bezon, last year’s Innovation Award recipient for her work with Hearty Roots. “It all comes full circle,” said Taft.
“We believe that all of our neighbors in Lincoln County deserve the very best … We do that by growing the best food we can and allowing everybody to have access to the best nutrition possible” – Megan Taft, co-founder of Twin Villages Food Bank Farm.
Four years ago when TVFF was barely an idea, its co-founders struggled with how to best bring their passion for agriculture to the community in a helpful way. With Taft’s background in food access and food justice and Cawthon’s background from five generations of Midwest corn and soybean farming, they figured the two experiences would have to mesh somewhere.
They spoke with Damariscotta River Association’s Stephen Hufnagel about their thoughts and a short walk through the Round Top property later, they understood Hufnagel was all about shepherding a vision of a land trust with community at its center.
“Growing food for our community was just a no-brainer,” Taft said.
How does it feel to help grow food for others?
“Good,” said Adley, daughter of Megan Taft and Sara Cawthon.
What’s the best part?
“Pulling the carrots out of the ground!”
In TVFF’s first season in 2016, it grew and distributed 20,000 pounds of food. This past year, the figure was 40,000 pounds and next year is projected at 50,000 pounds – all done on two acres of land by two people: Cawthon and assistant farm manager Kaitlyn Gardner, now an extension of their family, said Taft.