The Women’s Health Resource Library had an eventful year, and we would love to share some of the highlights of 2018:
Our mission is to advance and promote the health of the woman, her family, and her community. This year, we took one step closer to our mission by opening Milbridge Commons, a community wellness park and garden. This project, a collaboration between Maine Coast Heritage Trust and the Women’s Health Resource Library, protects coastal land from development. It also provides a space for adults and kids alike to exercise on the winding walking trails and reflect on the magnificent view of Narraguagas Bay. Come spring, kids will be able to play on the first public playground in Milbridge, and people will be able to take home organic vegetables from our bountiful Incredible Edible Milbridge gardens.
The initial walking trail is complete, and the garden beds await planting in the spring. We are currently fundraising for the children’s play area. This magical space will provide a place for children to climb rocks and ropes, jump boulders, play large musical instruments and more! We have already raised 41% of our $60,000 goal.
Our Incredible Edible Milbridge initiative enjoyed great success in 2018. We estimate that our pick-your-own garden at the Red Barn Motel produced approximately 4000 pounds of produce. More people than ever came to visit the garden, including a whopping 50+ volunteers who came to the “Weed-the-Witchgrass” work party hosted in July.
Along with the actual gardens, we had four workshops geared towards creating a healthy and dynamic food system. Pammy Dyer-Stewart & Juana Rodriguez-Vazquez led a container gardening workshop for families: it was a huge hit with the kids! Many children loved mixing the different soils and amendments, getting their hands dirty, and choosing what to plant. We also hosted a kimchi party, a canning workshop, and talked about soil fertility and more with Curtis LaFollete as we toured his bountiful garden in Cherryfield.
Farmer Michael Hayden, Pammy Dyer Stewart and Zabet NeuCollins brought Incredible Edible to the Milbridge Elementary School this past spring. They led the fourth graders in a ten-week gardening course and helped them plan, plant, care for and harvest two raised beds in front of the elementary school. The students harvested a mix of spinach, kale, lettuce, and Asian greens before summer break and harvested peppers, pumpkins, and carrots in the fall. IEM was recently awarded a grant to continue our education initiatives into the 2018-19 school year and will be working with the 2nd graders and pre-K: not only do we plan to plant the raised beds, we’ll also be doing projects such as composting with worms!
The developments at Milbridge Commons and Incredible Edible Milbridge are exciting, and we’ve also had positive progress towards our other initiatives. Our BoneBuilders Osteoporosis Prevention and Reversal Program is now our longest ongoing program hosted at WHRL. BoneBuilders is an effective combination of weight bearing, balance and stretching exercises. It also includes nutritional information and support for all stages of osteoporosis.
Another program hosted this year was SoulCollage®, an intuitive collage process. SoulCollage® is one way some people find answers and at the same time are able to rest, play, and have fun creating cards. These are led by the incredible Bonnie Johnson and will continue every Saturday through May.
Other highlights: the diaper drives, in which we collected more than a years’ worth of diapers for families in need; the Elaine Hill “Love-a-Nurse” 5K, which helped us provide two $2500 scholarships to local students pursuing a career in nursing; the trivia nights, which were well-attended, fun, educational and a tiny-bit competitive; and the Downeast Table of Plenty meal at the Maine Seacoast Mission, which the WHRL board had a lot of fun hosting.
We had a lot of community support this year, whether it was through volunteer efforts, donations of supplies, or financial support. Many of you came out during Milbridge Days to participate in our auction, and more recently, to participate in the Christmas Tree Festival during Christmas on Main Street. These are our two largest fundraising efforts of the year; although we often emerge from them exhausted beyond belief, we also are rejuvenated and buoyed by the support we receive from the community. It makes everything we do worthwhile; we are proud to serve Milbridge and Downeast Maine. We couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work!
We will continue and expand our programming in 2019. Keep on the lookout for exciting developments! Until then, please join our efforts and consider making a donation to help us continue for years to come. Anything helps!
From all of us at the Women’s Health Resource Library, Happy New Year!