A Brief History
Growing to Give was founded in April 2017 by a group of 16 people who came together around the idea of growing organic food at Scatter Good Farm using climate-friendly methods, and donating it to local people with food insecurity through food banks and pantries. John Newlin, a long-time educator in Maine, had been working for several years to expand climate-friendly production on the farm where he and his wife, Patty Carton, had moved in 2002 with their two sons, Mitch and Joe. Theda Lyden, a retired executive chef and veteran organic market gardener (and long-time friend of John and Patty), had been working since 2015 as the part-time farm manager at the farm. In 2016, Theda became aware, through her Master Gardener volunteer work, of the Merrymeeting Gleaners, a non-profit group that harvests excess farm and garden produce for donation to food banks and pantries. Late that fall, Rebecca McConnaughey, one of their lead gleaners, came to Scatter Good Farm to pick up some excess peppers that had been harvested and take them to a local food bank. That visit prompted John, Theda, and Patty to think more the growing number of Mainers with food insecurity, and how they might shift the focus of the farm more toward helping supply local food banks and pantries. This spurred them to learn more about programs in Maine and elsewhere such as Veggies for All and Mainers Feeding Mainers, but it was their meeting, in January 2017, with Sara Cawthon of Twin Villages Foodbank Farm, that convinced them to move ahead with this idea. At that point, they figured they had just enough time to get launched for the 2017 growing season.
Following the Twin Villages model, which operates under the nonprofit Damariscotta River Association, John began reaching out to existing local nonprofit organizations in hopes of finding one that would allow the project to operate under its nonprofit status (for the first year at least). He received lots of helpful information and encouragement during this process, but the project wasn’t a good fit for any of these organizations for a variety of reasons, so the decision was made to start a brand new nonprofit, and fast. They knew the timeline would now be very tight to launch for the 2017 growing season, but they didn’t want to wait until 2018. Fortunately, both John and Patty had nonprofit experience, and Leah Bennett, a business associate of John’s and the treasurer of another nonprofit, was available to help John with the nonprofit application process.
John quickly reached out to several people who he and Patty thought might be interested in serving on the board of this new nonprofit, and they were delighted when twelve people responded positively. Meanwhile, Theda worked with the Merrymeeting Gleaners to get their assistance in determining what vegetables the smaller and often undersupplied local food banks and pantries needed most, and to make a plan with them for their help with both harvesting and transporting the harvest.
Between mid-March and mid-April, three long meetings were held involving the board and staff, facilitated by John, during which many ideas were discussed and refined, bylaws were created, board officers were elected, a budget was approved, and the project was named. By late April, Growing to Give* had become an IRS-approved 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a strong board, an experienced staff, and a detailed plan to grow and donate approximately two tons of veggies during the 2017 pilot season. By mid-May, the Growing to Give website and a Facebook page had been launched, a newsletter had been sent to potential volunteers and donors, the date of the first event to be hosted by Growing to Give at Scatter Good Farm had been set, and seedlings were growing in the greenhouse!
For additional chapters to this story, please check out the news section of this website, and our Facebook page. We hope you will get involved with Growing to Give and help us write the next chapter of this story!
*Growing to Give is an authorized DBA of the nonprofit Center for a Green Future, which is incorporated in Maine.
Scatter Good Farm
Scatter Good Farm is a small organic farm in Brunswick, Maine – a half-hour drive from Portland, Bath, and Lewiston/Auburn. MOFGA-certified since 2015, Scatter Good Farm strives to use climate-friendly growing methods, including the use of biointensive and permaculture practices, carbon-sequestering biochar as a soil amendment, and mostly electric-powered farm equipment. The farm consists of about 30 acres of woodland, 8 acres of hay fields, 1 acre for buildings and animals, and 1 acre for vegetable production. Growing to Give is the largest operation at Scatter Good Farm, but the farm also hosts farm-based vacations and group events, including retreats, workshops, yoga classes, and birthday parties. The farm’s friendly goats are enjoyed by both Growing to Give volunteers and farm guests, and their manure is invaluable to the farm’s organic compost operation. To learn more visit, Scatter Good Farm.