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News Feature

Blue Hill
Originally published in Castine Patriot, July 5, 2018 and Island Ad-Vantages, July 5, 2018 and The Weekly Packet, July 5, 2018
Magic Food Bus rolls out for summer season
Adds school program in Penobscot

by Monique Labbe

It is a busy time of year for Healthy Peninsula, which is gearing up for another installment of the Magic Food Bus and school gardening programs across the Blue Hill Peninsula and Island communities.

Healthy Peninsula’s Anna Wind, along with Justine Appel, are set to head up the school gardening programs again this summer. The Brooksville program is in its second year, while a new program is set to go in Penobscot this year.

“The school programs are very exciting because we get to teach these kids how to find enjoyment out of their food,” said Wind. “We try to make food as fun as we can, and help them find pride in the gardens they create and food they grow.”

Wind said that there will also be a literacy piece to the program’s educational value, as well as guest speakers and field trips to the different farms in the area.

“We’ve been so lucky to partner with the local farms, not only for the school program, but for the Magic Food Bus as well,” said Wind.

The food grown by the students during the summer program is used as snacks during camp days; however, the students also give their produce to be used by the Magic Food Bus.

“I think that’s an important piece of it. The kids feel like they’re giving back and can take pride in the fact that people in their communities are eating the food they’ve grown,” said Wind.

The school programs are scheduled for Tuesdays in Penobscot from 8-11:30 a.m., and Thursdays in Brooksville from 8-11:30 a.m. The programs are free to the students.

The Magic Food Bus makes for busy Thursdays and Fridays for Healthy Peninsula volunteers, as drivers make stops at 14 locations from Penobscot to Stonington during those two days. The program started June 28 and rolls through September 29.

A new stop at the Blue Hill Public Library geared toward children ages 5 and up is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Fridays, during which time a children’s story will be read while food is available.

“The Magic Food Bus is important because it makes fresh produce accessible to everyone,” said Wind. “We have all these amazing local farmers who grow incredible produce, so it’s exciting to be able to share that with everyone.”

In addition to sourcing produce from local farmers, Wind said Healthy Peninsula is also welcoming area gardeners to share their surplus produce with the weekly Magic Food Bus offerings.

“Anyone who is growing more produce than they’ll use, they’re welcome to drop it off to us,” said Wind, adding that there is a cold storage trailer at the Healthy Peninsula office for exactly that use.

Thursday stops for the Magic Food Bus include Harborview Apartments in Blue Hill at 2:15 p.m., Deer Isle-Stonington High School at 2:15 p.m., Deer Run Apartments at 3:15 p.m., Penobscot Town Office at 3:30 p.m., Island Community Center at 4:30 p.m. and Brooksville Town Office at 5:30 p.m.

On Fridays, the Magic Food Bus drivers make stops at the Blue Hill Public Library at 10:30 a.m., The Gatherings in Surry at 10:30 a.m., Walker Pond Landing in Sedgwick at 12 p.m., Benjamin River Apartments in Sedgwick at 1 p.m., Nichols Day Camp in Sedgwick at 2 p.m., and Sedgwick Elementary School at 3:30 p.m.

Margaret Bixby hands over Sedgwick MFB route

After coming up with the idea for the Magic Food bus seven years ago, and being the face of the Sedgwick route, Margaret Bixby is handing over the reins this year to Sedgwick Elementary School kindergarten teacher Vanessa Carter.

“It was just time,” said Bixby while helping Carter sort through produce for her maiden voyage as the new Sedgwick route driver.

“I’m getting older. I love doing it, and I’m so happy it’s continuing. Had [Carter] not stepped forward to do it, I would have kept going. Now I get to be of help, but I don’t have all the responsibility,” she added.

Bixby met with Carter at the Sedgwick Elementary School on June 28, the day before the first installment of the weekly Magic Food Bus run, to help her decide how to separate the produce out between stops and to give advice.

“It’s a really important thing in our community,” said Bixby.

That importance is one of the reasons Carter stepped up and took over the route.

“I live in the community, and I didn’t want to see [the program] go by the wayside,” said Carter. “I’m anxious to get out and talk to people, and it’s a great way to get good food out to the community.”

Carter will be out making stops in Sedgwick each Friday.