Penobscot Boys & Girls Club - Presque Isle Trip to Blue Hill Farm

Inspired by the On the T.R.A.I.L. Diabetes Prevention Program, youth at the Penobscot Boys & Girls Club in Presque Isle, Maine, recently took an exciting trip to the Blue Hill Peninsula to learn local stories of the surrounding area. It has a long history of family farming and fishing, and has recently received national media attention for promoting and supporting local farms and food enterprises. Thanks to the work of these “local heroes”, delicious, high-quality food is produced year-round. This was a fantastic opportunity to get youth interested in eating locally produced and organic food. In the spring, Club staff will be working on a large community garden project together with their youth, growing their own food to share with elders in the community as well as the Club's food program. According to Program Coordinator Ashley Rekem, “I thought that a trip like this was a good precursor to whet their appetites for high quality produce and farm products.”

Youth in the program visited the Winter Farmer’s Market in Blue Hill, which was held inside a glass greenhouse. They also visited and toured the world renowned Four Season Farm on beautiful Cape Rosier, owned by Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch. Together with Eliot's daughter Melissa and her two children, the family produces year-round using a variety of tools and techniques developed by Eliot over his 40+ years of experience. Youth learned the process for how they produce their delicious vegetables, fruit, herbs, flowers, and eggs.

In the late afternoon they participated in cow milking at Quill's End Farm, owned by Heather and Phil Retberg, located in Penobscot, ME. Heather and Phil operate a small dairy milking cows and goats, and produce an assortment of dairy products. They also raise chickens for eggs and meat, and pigs seasonally in the woods and fields. Heather has recently won a prestigious award for her efforts to sustain small family farms through changes to local and state policy.

At the end of the day, youth visited the Halcyon Grange in Blue Hill where they ate a healthy lunch and dinner cooked with vegetables from the farms they visited. They learned that the grange has a long history rooted in preserving and promoting rural, agricultural life. Recently, the Halcyon Grange has added a licensed commercial kitchen available for use by the community and local small business owners. It also operates a grain coop, distributing bulk chicken and pig feed for homesteaders and small farmers.

All in all, it sounds like youth at Penobscot Boys & Girls Club learned several valuable lessons about what it takes to produce the delicious food that ends up on our plates, and in our bellies! We look forward to learning more about their exciting adventures in the future!

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