Rosie Alexander (left) and Jamie Weeks, students at Harpswell Coastal Academy harvest carrots at Scatter Good Farm on Wednesday morning. Hannah LaClaire/The Times Record

BRUNSWICK — By mid-morning, the four Harpswell Coastal Academy students at Scatter Good Farm were mud-spattered and wet, and they had crates full of fresh carrots, harvested, washed and ready to go.

The carrots, along with beets, parsley, turnips, scallions, lettuce, spinach, winter squash, tomatoes and peppers, will be distributed in boxes to people all across the Midcoast, to the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program, the Salvation Army, People Plus, Bath Food Pantry and other places which might benefit from fresh, locally grown produce.

Students rinse off fresh carrots before packing them into boxes to be distributed across the community. Hannah LaClaire/The Times Record

Everything grown at Scatter Good Farm is donated through its Growing to Give program, and now, through a new Growing, Giving, Learning educational program, organizers can pass that message along to students.

The program “will bring local children to the farm to learn about local solutions to hunger, healthy food, and climate-friendly agriculture,” said Sandi Konta, Growing to Give development assistant. Harpswell Coastal Academy students visited the farm for the second time on Wednesday and will continue until the snow ends the harvest season. 

“We’re relying on this generation,” said Theda Lyndon, farm manager. “We’re trying to teach them about growing organically and being part of your community. … I think it’s really important to have that hands-on, get your hands dirty (experience) and understand where your food comes from.”

According to the Food Research and Action Center, between 2014 and 2016, more than 16% of Maine households struggled to put food on the table. According to a report by the organization, food-insecure families and people with low incomes are more vulnerable to poor nutrition, obesity and other health-risk factors, in part because of lack of access to healthy and affordable foods.

This is the first year of the program, and they are trying to build on what they have done already, perhaps add some cooking programs with a pop-up kitchen after harvesting, she said.

“We’re trying to give kids an experience that they may not have (otherwise),” she added. “I think they’re enjoying it.”

it’s also a good learning opportunity for the students to “work on the real-world professional development skills we talked about in school and actually apply it,” said Abby Baker, their teacher. 

As the kids stood and washed off the carrots, separating the leafy green tops into compost bins and putting the carrots into crates, they agreed they enjoyed the time at the farm. 

According to Angie Ruggiero, an eighth-grader, harvesting the carrots was “really satisfying.”

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