Our Maine Street's Aroostook Issue 24 : Spring 2015 - Page 33

One of the most remarkable aspects of FOA is its ability to adapt and grow, all the while creating new ways for community partners and businesses to join in the effort. For example, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, a local produce, farming equipment and supply company, matches FOA’s purchases dollar for dollar. They also supported the construction of a new FOA greenhouse which provides the means to grow other fruits such as cantaloupes. Another recent initiative is the partnership with the local sheriff’s office and the Maine Department of Corrections. A few carefully screened, minimum security inmates are now members of Dale’s volunteer team who come out each day to harvest the crops. This has already proven to be a wonderful way to engage these young men in meaningful work while teaching them new farming skills and connecting them to the project and their community. Dale sincerely believes that anyone with the passion to help others can replicate Friends of Aroostook in any community or county. “Where there are farms, there is promise,” he says. The fact is that of all the states in New England, Maine ranks number one when it comes to food insecurity. Maine is also the most rural state and, particularly for older residents, maintaining a consistent and healthy diet can be a struggle. Our most vulnerable neighbors must often choose between putting food on the table, taking their daily medications, heating their homes or paying rent. At AARP, we believe that everyone has the right to age with dignity and we applaud Dale and his team for their exceptional efforts to help make this a reality for thousands of older Mainers who benefit from the work of FOA. In 2014, AARP Maine commissioned a short film to showcase Dale and FOA’s achievements which have such a positive impact year after year. Shot on location by award-winning filmmaker John Martin, “With Friends Like These” may serve as an incentive for other communities and partners to get involved in similar projects. After all, FOA started because one person decided to make a difference and now thousands of people benefit. The film, with a running time of just over eleven minutes, is now available online at AARP Maine’s YouTube channel and Facebook page at aarpmaine. It can also be accessed directly online at http://bit. ly/1CELyQH. This spring, Dale and his team will once again be out in the fields, planting seeds and getting ready for the growing season. They work each day, rain or shine, and they could use your help. Sometimes FOA loses whole crops because they don’t have enough volunteers at harvest time. If you would like to volunteer or if you would like more information about FOA, call 694-8131, email friendsofaroostook@ yahoo.com or just go to their website at www.friendsofaroostook.com. If we work together an