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Focus on Agriculture in Rural Maine Schools

Karen Kleinkopf - Co-Founder and Youth Program Director of FARMS   

(photo courtesy of Ellen Durgin)

           Ellen Durgin

FARMS Board Member

       Samuel Kaymen

FARMS Board Member

(photo courtesy of Ellen Durgin)

(photo courtesy of Ellen Durgin)

Former FARMS Executive Director, Heather Burt,  is

shown speaking about the plans for the FARMS Community Kitchen at a Slow Money Maine meeting in 2013.

Name:            FARMS

                       Focus on Agriculture in Rural

                       Maine Schools

Location:       323 Main Street

                        Damariscotta, Maine

                        (above Rising Tide) 

Mailing Address:

                        P.O. Box 421

                        Damariscotta, Maine 04543



Facebook Page:

                         FARMS Facebook Page

Phone:             207-563-1161

Products and Services:

-nutrition education

-promotion of local farms

-promotion & facilitation of farm to institution 


-hands-on cooking and gardening experiences

-site for local farmers, chefs, medical practitioners,

and community members to share their knowledge

-variety of events for individuals of all ages

-community gathering location

-summer classes for children

-programs for senior citizens

-family cooking classes

-weekly recipe classes and social gatherings

-cooking classes for students

Why is the FARMS Community Kitchen Unique?

There’s an impressive diagram on the office wall at the FARMS (Focus on Agriculture in Rural Maine Schools) Community Kitchen in Damariscotta that illustrates all the individuals and organizations that have contributed their resources or that have been impacted by the work of FARMS.  Without question, this non-profit organization has developed a space above the Rising Tide Community Market that is very welcoming and all-inclusive in nature.

While several community kitchens have popped up in various locations throughout the country, it is doubtful that many offer such a diverse array of activities and classes as FARMS.  A group of dedicated volunteers met with various school personnel and farmers in 2004 to develop programs that would encourage the consumption of healthy, local food.  Several solid collaborations were formed with schools in the area and Harvest Lunches and taste testings in the classrooms followed.

Thanks to the awarding of multi-year grant funds in 2010, FARMS was able to incorporate and hire professional staff. Their educational outreach expanded to several additional schools and collaborations were formed with programs such as the Kieve/Wavus Camps, Chewonki, and Morris Farm. A successful Kickstarter campaign helped to fund the construction of a modern community kitchen. It is available to be rented by organizations for meetings and conferences.

A great deal of volunteer effort and time were dedicated to the funding and establishment of the community kitchen. It opened in 2014, and it has evolved into a resource that has reached out to students, families and individuals of all ages.  Children have enjoyed summer cooking classes. Elegant dinners have been scheduled. A Food and Farm Film Festival was organized that offered thirteen different free films on Friday evenings. 

Participants have attended workshops at the FARMS Community Kitchen on topics such as the creation of various ethnic meals. In January of 2015, Karen Kleinkopf, the Youth Program Director, and other volunteers organized a Vietnamese meal with tasty

Vietnamese Spring Rolls, traditional Pho Beef Noodle Soup, and a Vietnamese Mung Bean drink.

Gluten-free baking and weekly recipes have been shared at the FARMS Community Kitchen. Members of the medical community, farmers, and chefs have all volunteered to conduct presentations on food-related topics. Books and resources that support gardening, food preservation, and nutrition are available for use. Spring bulbs have been offered for sale.

Visitors to the FARMS website ( can enjoy making and testing some of the unique recipes that have been posted.  If you are not familiar with the steps involved in making such creations as parsnip chips, black bean tacos, easy ginger beer, or lemon and parmesan fiddleheads, they can be easily checked out online.

Because of the efforts of FARMS, many collaborations have been formed between farmers and schools. A prime goal of FARMS since its early days has been the commitment to help facilitate the introduction of local foods into the school lunch program. If you ever have read the book, Fed Up With Lunch, by schoolteacher Sarah Wu, the need for drastic changes in many school cafeteria programs is immediately apparent. FARMS has highlighted the importance of gardening, composting, and recycling in educational settings.

Years ago youngsters were introduced to culinary skills through their Home Economics classes. Since many schools have eliminated these classes and shortcuts have been established in many homes with the popularity and convenience of processed foods sold at the supermarket and at fast food establishments,  a critical need has been identified for sharing information with youngsters about healthy food preparation.

FARMS is in the process of upgrading their Community Kitchen.  They are in need of an additional refrigerator/freezer, a washer-dryer combination, cleanup sink, and demand hot water heater in the pantry.  They have already researched their needs and have chosen what they would like.  What they are really in need of at the present time is money donations. Any help that can be provided will be greatly appreciated. Individuals interested in donating can go to the FARMS’ website  and donate there by clicking on the Donate tab.

How fortunate that residents of the Damariscotta area

can benefit from two community-oriented resources.

Visitors have flocked to the Rising Tide Community Market for years. The concept of “community” has literally and figuratively expanded to a whole new level as Farms Community Kitchen is alive and well

and located on the upstairs level of the Rising Tide

Community Market at 323 Main Street in Damariscotta.