Community members who attended an Engine workshop to develop an action plan for Biddeford food visited the Biddeford RiverWalk while brainstorming during the workshop. COURTESY PHOTO

BIDDEFORD — Engine, an arts organization on Main Street in Biddeford, has received a grant from the Local Foods, Local Places initiative to launch a four-part action plan in order to create opportunities for all by using and expanding Biddeford’s food systems.

The Local Foods, Local Places program is supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and has three main goals. These include providing economic opportunities for local farmers and businesses, access to healthy and local food, and to revitalize downtowns, Main Streets, and existing neighborhoods. The full action plan will be revealed at Engine’s launch party for the program from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15.

Tammy Ackerman, executive director of Engine, brought this grant and all the opportunities it creates to the city of Biddeford. This past June, Ackerman and 50 other community members developed a four-part action plan with goals for the city and ways to use the Local Foods, Local Places grant.

“(Food has) all kinds of different avenues,” said Ackerman. “There’s food security and nutrition, and then there are food producers.”

The plan addresses a wide variety of food related aspects along with inclusive community ideas.

“The action plan has four separate components and a very concise agenda to execute the ideas,” Engine intern Paul Pederson said.

One of the components  is to provide Biddeford residents and those who visit Biddeford access to fresh food.

“We had to ask ourselves, ‘How is food unique in our community?’” said Ackerman. “(The grant is) community based and food related.”

As an arts organization, Engine contributes to the action plan immensely. Engine is committed to designing, launching, and promoting community-based arts programming, as said in the action plan. The plan hopes to make Biddeford a more accessible area for fresh food, a frequently visited downtown area, and a place for community involvement.

“A lot of hard work goes into making every goal we have on the action plan happen — it’s just a ton of work,” Ackerman said.

The Local Foods, Local Places initiative offers the city of Biddeford the freedom to develop the city as a whole. Ackerman said the whole point of the grant is to use food systems to create a more unique place.

“There are some nerves about making the whole plan successful,” Ackerman said.

The action plan is ambitious and has a clear timeline for implementing all the components.

“(The action plan) is like an organism, each part has to work together with their individual components to create success,” Pedersen said.

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