We’re always thrilled to highlight our amazing grantees, including one of this year’s winners, 47 Daisies, a small agricultural nonprofit in Vassalboro, ME. They grow vegetables, fruit, and shiitake mushrooms, which are sold at retail outlets and distributed through their Food Access Program to low-income seniors and children. They also offer educational programs for all ages and open up their farm and its woodlands for public enjoyment.
This season they received a $2,500 grant from The FruitGuys Community Fund, some of which helped them plant fruit trees and native wildflower mixes. So far they’ve been able to plant 72 fruit trees, including peach, plum, and pear. They started their new orchard on marginal land where the convergence of two natural drainages empty into a stream. It’s their hope that this orchard will not only provide fruit but also help prevent erosion and protect water quality. As far as the added wildflowers, Executive Director Dylan N. Dillaway told us, “Our beneficial insect mix plantings continue to support great diversity and will continue to be sowed in future years.” Plantings like these attract pollinators along with beneficial predatory insects that help keep pest pressure down.
The grant also enabled 47 Daisies to add bluebird and bat houses to the farm, which they installed early enough for birds to begin nesting in them right away! The birds and bats will provide valuable educational opportunities and additional natural pest control.
Despite facing some challenges, including drought and caterpillars, the farm’s efforts have already made an impact on their community. Their projects have been the subject of several outreach programs at the farm, and The FruitGuys Community Fund orchard served as the centerpiece of a second-grade class field trip from Lincoln Elementary School of Augusta, ME. Students learned about the process of planting trees and presented feathers to the swallows nesting in some of the bluebird boxes.
Watch the video below to learn more about 47 Daisies’ sustainability project.
Jordan Charbonneau is an organic farmer and writer from West Virginia. She holds degrees in ecology and environmental humanities from Sterling College in Vermont.