What People are Reading
- What a very sad and shocking
2 years 4 days ago
- Smart Meters
2 years 3 weeks ago
- 100 year old house burns
2 years 3 weeks ago
- Column 2-10 re Treason
2 years 12 weeks ago
- Radical Difference
2 years 13 weeks ago
- This activity is such a
2 years 21 weeks ago
- Okay Great we got a sign!
2 years 21 weeks ago
- Hate Crime a Sad Moment Indeed
2 years 23 weeks ago
More in News
Oxford Hills Food Collaborative to close
OXFORD HILLS — The Oxford Hills Food Collaborative (OHFC) will close its doors May 11, after four years "of serving the growth and long-term health of farmers, chefs and market gardeners," it announced Monday.
The collaborative is a special project of The Progress Center, an organization that serves more than 100 children, families and adults in the Oxford Hills area who experience disabilities.
"It was really a business decision," said Kristin Benedix, executive director of The Progress Center. "At this point in time, it's not sustaining the mission of The Progress Center."
In 2008 a group of small family farms, disabled adults and a local health improvement coalition joined forces to improve community health by offering a retail exchange for goods that are grown, produced, traded and distributed locally.
According to Progress Center staff and the organization's website, the "partnership brings about tremendous change in the quality of life of Oxford Hills residents. By joining together and sharing our unique skills and resources, our collaborative group [has been] addressing issues head-on in a proactive, self-sufficient and innovative manner."
Benedix said that closing the center is two-fold: "First, of course, the economic culture right now, [is not] allowing for it to be a self-sustaining entity. Second, it's not as in line with The Progress Center's mission as it was at one point," she said.
"When the project first started, we had local farms, and our program participants worked the farms. They harvested, brought them [crops] to the markets — and they're not doing that piece anymore, so it's really just the store component."
The collaborative opened a retail store in 2010, located in The Progress Center building on Cottage Street.
Benedix said the mission of The Progress Center and the food collaborative is to "support individuals to be independent in their communities. With the collaborative before," she said, "it [offered] them the skill-building component.
"And now, with the store, it allows for a lot of program participants ... [to learn] the skills about managing the store."
Mike Twitchell, OHFC coordinator, said that a lot of the farms are currently engaged in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. When the program first began, The Progress Center bought its produce from the farms but in the past couple of years they developed their own CSA, "which is great for them, because they can now bring their own customers to the farms, so that people can have more of a relationship with the farmers."
Over the last 20 years, CSA programs have become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer.
But the collaborative's closing won't "have a huge impact" on The Progress Center operations, said Benedix.
The program's one part-time and two full-time employees will be offered employment elsewhere within The Progress Center, she said, "and of course, we have our regular shareholders and shoppers at the store that we'll try to refer to other local venues here in the Oxford Hills community."
CSA shares will continue as usual up to and including the May 16 share, said Benedix. She said that someone will be at the store for those picking up their shares. No new shares will be available after May 16.
Beginning May 2 and ending May 11 at 4 p.m., when the store officially closes, all of the store's inventory will be 50 percent off.
"It's been a really great program and I am really sad to see that we can't sustain it," said Benedix. "We offer residential services, and some day services, and that's where the farming piece became challenging — maintaining that weekends and evenings.
"If down the road we ever wanted to resurrect any part of this program, I think it would really be that piece," said Benedix.
"It has been a really great fit with the community, but with the economy the way it is right now, it's been a struggle," she said. "Especially this past year."