April 20, 2021
In 2013, Holly Culloton, a newly certified Master Gardener, began to explore and develop new garden opportunities for Biddeford. Now in its third year, Biddeford Community Gardens (BCG) plans to build additional garden space at Williams Court Park, to include nine new raised beds, fruit trees and blueberry bushes.
BCG coordinated with Biddeford Center of Technology teacher Ethan Davis, his project volunteer Steve Podsiadlo and the Manufacturing Production class students who have been hard at work this semester. They’ve been using their skills to help build the raised garden beds from white pine boards while learning about mass production, equipment handling, quality control and a whole lot more during the project.
Davis says, “We worked on 8 beds this time in the Manufacturing Production class. The focus of the class is on industrial production, so my hope had been to set up an assembly line. We cross trained the students so they would get some experience on all of the equipment and parts of the process. The plan is to take all the students to the garden and connect all the parts there.”
Ethan and Holly had met and things fell into place for the project. COT does many community projects across all of their programs. The BCG project is described as a primer for students to explore what their interests may be. If they find a passion, they can study it deeper in other programs and earn industry certifications and college credits. The short term, manageable programs offer some preliminary skills that they might not get in other parts of their life. “The connection to the BCG offers these life skills,” says Director of the COT, Paulette Bonneau, “you can make it, you can grow it and you can eat it. It’s a wonderful project and opportunity for our community, for our school and for our students. It provides purpose and connection which is really critical; they can be excited about sharing their contributions to the community.”
Rent, barter or free is how the grassroots organization operates. Culloton says, “we’ve not gone non-profit yet, but we hope to. Our website and social media presence is how you’d find out more information about getting involved. Right now, we don’t have any beds available and have a waiting list going, so it’s pretty amazing as we expand our projects.”
To learn more, visit BiddefordCommunityGardens.org