AgroEcology for Resilient Communities Project addresses climate change through experiential learning in conservation, farming and sustainability
SACO – Hannaford Supermarkets announced a $250,000 donation to support regenerative, sustainable and eco-friendly farming operations and hands-on education at The Ecology School at River Bend Farm in Saco.
The donation from Hannaford will provide funding to enhance The Ecology School’s AgroEcology for Resilient Communities Project, an innovative program that reimagines the act of agriculture and creates a climate positive future through a collective of initiatives that address climate change, food systems challenges, and food insecurity within the community.
“At Hannaford, we believe that in order to create and sustain healthy communities, we need to invest in initiatives that advance knowledge and education around our food systems,” said Hannaford Supermarkets Brand Sustainability Lead George Parmenter. “The Ecology School is redefining agriculture and farming for students throughout New England, and their full-circle approach is the definition of a sustainable system. We thank them for their continued innovation and leadership as we work together to build a better, greener future.”
Hannaford Supermarkets announced a $250,000 donation to The Ecology School at River Bend Farm in Saco in order to support regenerative, sustainable and eco-friendly farming operations and hands-on education for future generations. Pictured is an aerial view of The Ecology School at River Bend Farm. (Courtesy photo)
The ARC Project provides regenerative agriculture learning opportunities for approximately 3,500 students throughout New England annually. Students who visit The Ecology School engage in hands-on food systems education in the farm fields, education garden plots and greenhouse on the River Bend Farm campus. Produce grown on-site is incorporated into nutritious meals served to students during their stay, with additional fresh produce donated to local food pantries.
The goal of the ARC Project is to actively respond to the threat of climate change and the challenges of regional food insecurity by developing innovative, climate-smart food system solutions.
“Teaching kids and adults about ecology through food is something that we’ve been doing at The Ecology School for over 24 years,” said The Ecology School President and CEO Drew Dumsch. “We’re so excited to partner with Hannaford to not only grow more climate-smart food at River Bend Farm but also grow our regenerative food system education programs and increase our community engagement throughout Maine and the Northeast.”
Hannaford Supermarkets announced a $250,000 donation to The Ecology School at River Bend Farm in Saco in order to support regenerative, sustainable and eco-friendly farming operations and hands-on education for future generations. Pictured above is fresh produce from The Ecology School at River Bend Farm. (Courtesy photo)
Hannaford’s donation will support the four main components of The Ecology School’s ARC Project:
- On-Site Farm Production and Farm-to-Table Initiative, which improves land health through conservation and restorative agriculture at River Bend Farm. Approximately 4,500 pounds of fresh produce is grown on-site annually and incorporated into 30,000 meals served to students and adults visiting The Ecology School, including green beans, radishes and parsley.
- Food Systems Education School Programming, which welcomes approximately 3,500 students to River Bend Farm annually for hands-on learning opportunities that inspire new ways of looking at food, farming, nature, communities and conservation through the study of ecosystems, food systems and sustainability. The program will provide more than 3,200 hours of food systems education in 2023.
- Food Bank Partnerships, which seek to increase food access within the community by donating fresh produce grown on-site at River Bend Farm to local hunger relief organizations. In 2022, the program donated approximately 2,000 pounds of fresh produce to local food pantries, including York County Shelters Program in Alfred and in 2023, will include Youth Full Maine in Biddeford.
- Student Farm Apprentice Program, which provides paid opportunities to students interested in learning about agriculture and economic development. Apprentices learn and participate in all aspects of production, including planting, tending and harvesting in the field; washing and weighing produce; and building and caring for permaculture education gardens.
Hannaford Supermarkets announced a $250,000 donation to The Ecology School at River Bend Farm in Saco in order to support regenerative, sustainable and eco-friendly farming operations and hands-on education for future generations. Pictured above is a student at The Ecology School at River Bend Farm. (Courtesy photo)
The donation to The Ecology School further illustrates Hannaford’s commitment to reducing waste and protecting the environment. Hannaford Supermarkets is an industry leader in sustainability. This legacy dates back to the mid-1980s when Hannaford became the first grocery retailer in the nation to introduce reusable bags to its customers. Hannaford diverts or donates all food at risk of going to waste – sending no food to landfills. In 2022, Hannaford donated 25 million pounds of food to hunger relief organizations and prevented 65 million pounds of food waste from reaching landfills.
In celebration of Earth Month, the grocery retailer launched Planet Hannaford, a new banner for its sustainability initiatives. In addition to supporting customers on their health and sustainability journey, Planet Hannaford is an extension of the grocer’s commitment to building a better, greener future for the communities it serves. For more information about Hannaford’s sustainability efforts and commitment, visit www.Hannaford.com/Sustainability.
Hannaford Supermarkets operates 185 stores in the Northeast, most with full-service pharmacies. Stores are located in Maine, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. All are committed to offering great fresh food, convenient experiences and everyday low prices. Hannaford also is an active and committed community partner—focusing on fighting hunger, supporting youth development, and helping people live healthier lives. Hannaford is an industry leader in sustainability with a strong commitment to reducing waste and protecting the environment. Hannaford diverts or donates all food at risk of going to waste—sending no food to landfills. In 2022, Hannaford donated 25 million pounds of food to hunger relief organizations and prevented 65 million pounds of food waste from reaching landfills. Hannaford employs nearly 30,000 associates and is based in Scarborough, Maine. Additional information can be found at Hannaford.com.
The Ecology School is an environmental living & learning center that inspires children and adults to think and act for building more sustainable communities by bringing people and nature together. We provide “live what you learn” opportunities for our guests and program participants through hands-on exploration of Maine’s ecosystems, sustainable living practices, direct connection to food systems and farming along with modeling conservation-in-action. Located on the River Bend Farm, a historic 105-acre farm on a scenic bend in the Saco River, The Ecology School hosts retreats and conferences and summer camps and school programs. River Bend Farm is a place where people of all ages will find comfortable accommodations, delicious food, and beautiful outdoor spaces to learn and explore. For more information, visit www.theecologyschool.org.