Workshop leader and organic farmer Chris Bement and workshop attendee Bill Hamilton fill garden beds with soil and compost.

The number of clients served by the Bowdoinham Food Pantry doubled last month compared to June 2021.

The pantry is looking to help those living with food insecurity, in part, through gardening and education.

On July 24, the Bowdoinham Food Pantry will welcome guests to celebrate Open Farm Day with a tour of the facility and new garden beds, a free organic soil workshop, lawn games, craft projects, a silent auction and a chicken barbecue.

The number of households that use the pantry fluctuates throughout the year. However, last month the food pantry served 63 households — a total of 123 adults and 60 children.

A year ago, the pantry served 35 households, with a total of 63 adults and 19 children.

The total number of visits to the food pantry has continued to climb since the start of the pandemic.


In 2019, the pantry reported a total of 573 visits, while in 2020 the number jumped to 1,052. There was a slight decline in 2021 with 995 visits, but numbers have increased again with 751 visits this year, so far.

With six months left in 2022, there could be over 1,400 visits to the food pantry by the end of the year.

According to the Good Shepard Food Bank of Maine, one in five children in Sagadahoc County is food insecure.

Bowdoinham Food Pantry Director Jennifer Stonebraker said the newly built raised garden beds will be the highlight of the tour since they didn’t have a garden last year.

Preparation for the beds began in May when a pair of Nigerian dwarf goats prepared the grounds for installation by nibbling the grass down to an appropriate height.

The newly added gardens help aid the mission of the food pantry by providing healthy and sustainable food to Bowdoin and Bowdoinham, said Stonebraker.


Stonebraker said the food pantry is very fortunate to have the help of its community. She said the raised beds were built by volunteers, Six River Farm donated plants, a client donated composted soil and food pantry shoppers watered the gardens while waiting in line.

Clients can come to pick fresh vegetables every Wednesday during food pantry hours, from 4-6 p.m. Stonebraker said the pantry hopes to expand their garden project next year and create an “edible waterfront,” around town.

“We already have zucchini and summer squash, cucumbers, kale, and swiss chard. Folks can come down and grab what they need,” she said.

Carter (6) helps to water and tend to the tomato plants. Photo contributed by Jennifer Stonebraker.

Tours of the food pantry and its gardens will last from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. with a  free workshop offered at noon, to teach the community members how to create organic fertilizer at home, using things like pumpkins, dandelion seeds and other natural materials that will ferment.

Stonebraker said the food pantry built its garden beds using the eastern European and German method of hügelkultur, to ensure a plentiful crop of vegetables. The German word hügelkultur translates to “mound culture” and is a centuries-old technique for building a garden bed from partially rotted logs, compost, and soil.

“Using logs to build up the beds so it is not just soil, creates a lot of microorganisms,” said Stonebreaker. “It is a little community in there, with lots of great bacteria. We are going to highlight that and give information about it.”

In addition to teaching the community about farming, guests are welcome to participate in a silent auction to bid on local items from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Starting at 4 p.m. guests are also invited to attend a chicken barbecue with games and music for an entrance fee of, “donate what you can.” All proceeds benefit the food pantry.

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