About 50 immigrant and asylum-seeking families have planted crops through a Cultivating Community program at Hurricane Valley Farm in Falmouth. Contributed / Ian MacLellan

A farm in Falmouth, where students learn to cultivate crops and asylum-seekers and immigrants work the land as they did in their home countries, will receive some upgrades in the new year, including solar power and barn renovations.

Hurricane Valley Farm on Route 100, once slated to become a housing development, was obtained by the Falmouth Land Trust in 2015. Since 2018 it has been the home to Cultivating Community, a nonprofit that teaches youth how to grow and maintain crops and provides asylum seekers and other immigrants with the opportunity to grow food for their own families and to send to market, all as part of its mission to expand access to local, healthy food.

The town has received a $50,000 grant for improvements.

The farmhouse at Hurricane Valley Farm in Falmouth will soon have solar panels, revamping the energy systems of a portion of the farm. Drew Johnson / The Forecaster

“The focus of this grant was to partially solarize this property,” said Theresa Galvin, Falmouth’s sustainability coordinator. “It would result in the reduction of greenhouse gases, community-wide greenhouse gas emissions, as well as access to locally produced, equitable food.”

The goal is to install solar panels on the small farmhouse to serve as the main power source for some of the farm’s functions such as ventilation, lighting, water pumps for the greenhouses and washing stations, as well as refrigeration and storage for produce.

While that work is soon to be underway, the land trust is turning its focus to the large rundown barn that marks the entrance to the property. It has launched a $350,000 capital campaign to renovate the barn, which now can’t be used for anything other than storage – and even that is hazardous.


The barn at Hurricane Valley Farm, which is over 100 years old, also has renovations in the works. Contributed / Michael Grant

“There are a lot of holes in the walls and it’s not an airtight or watertight facility at the moment,” said Mila Plavsic, executive director of the land trust. “Part of the roof blew off the other year and that allowed water to get into one of the tractors.”

Preserving the farm was the goal of acquiring the land, with help from the town, but it was new territory for the land trust.

“The thought from the very start was, even though the land trust knew nothing about farming, we shouldn’t let this farm be lost,” Plavsic said.

That’s when Cultivating Community expressed interest.

“We work at the intersection of food access, land access for the purpose of agriculture, nutrition education and environmental stewardship,” said Yannick Bizimana, who works with Cultivating Community in their development office.

Cultivating Community works with students in Portland, maintaining an elementary school garden and taking on high school students as interns. It also helps manage 11 Portland community gardens for about 450 gardeners, Bizimana said.


Beyond that, Cultivating Community’s New American Sustainable Agriculture Program works with nearly 50 refugee and asylum-seeking families who grow corn and other crops at the Falmouth farm, with others at its Packard Littlefield Farm in Lisbon.

“They are individuals who are moving. They’re either seeking asylum or immigrating through different ways and fashions,” Bizimana said. “Those individuals had a strong farming background, but they end up living in … a small apartment, and a person who really is into farming and growing their own food, they’re like ‘I’m ready to do it, but I don’t even know where to start.’ That’s when Cultivating Community comes in.”

To learn more about Cultivating Community and ways to donate, go to cultivatingcommunity.org. To donate toward and learn more about the barn project, go to falmouthlandtrust.org.

From left, Yannick Bizimana of Cultivating Community; Theresa Galvin, Falmouth’s sustainability coordinator; and Mila Plavsic, executive director of Falmouth Land Trust. Drew Johnson / The Forecaster


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