Biddeford Center of Technology student Nick Berard saws a piece of lumber – part of a project to make raised garden beds, as project volunteer Steve Podsiadlo looks on. Tammy Wells Photo

BIDDEFORD — There is a lot of measuring and sawing involved, and soon there will be more tasks, as students at the Biddeford Center of Technology use their skills to build raised garden beds from white pine boards.

Then the beds — eight, 3- by 8-foot boxes, 12 inches high, will be placed alongside nine others at Williams Court, nearly doubling the existing garden space.

It is all part of the mission of Biddeford Community Gardens, which is also creating beds at Rotary Park— an inground garden, and later, if all goes as planned, some raised beds.

On a recent weekday, freshmen in Ethan Davis’ manufacturing production class, learning about mass production, equipment handling, quality control and a whole lot more, got to work, building the beds.

Holly Culloton of Biddeford Community Gardens said she’s excited about the project to expand the gardens at Williams Court.

It is the kind of garden where neighbors come together to do what needs to be done. Four of the beds are dedicated to community programs, like Youth Full, Biddeford Food Pantry, Bon Appetit and Maine Meal Assist, she said.

Max Forcier, a student at Biddeford Center of Technology, prepares to saw a board, one of several he and others will measure and cut before turning the boards into raised beds for Biddeford Community Gardens. Tammy Wells Photo

“We plant together, grow together and harvest together,” Culloton said of the Williams Court neighborhood.

At the COT, there was the scent of sawn wood in the air, the hum of the saws, and heaps of sawdust shavings in little piles here and there. Davis and volunteer Steve Podsiadlo offered guidance to the students, who, wearing hearing protection and safety glasses, were intent at their tasks.

This was the beginning of the project, and Culloton said she hopes within a couple of weeks the boxes would be placed, and then made ready for soil, compost and, finally, seedlings, raised by fellow gardener Pam Carr.

So, what do the students enjoy about this project, and others?

“It’s the hands-on experience,” said Max Forcier as he bent to take a measurement before making a cut.

Nick Berard said he likes learning to use the equipment.

“It’s different than the other courses,” said Logan Allaire, noting that most others he’s enrolled in are on computer.

Hasan Mustafa said he’d had some experience in using saws when he helped a neighbor, and he likes it.

“It’s fun,” he said.

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