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Friends of Aroostook       

Name:         Friends of Aroostook Farms

Farm Locations:   

                     44-acre farm in Houlton

Office Location:

                     144 Military Street

                     Houlton, Maine  04370

Website:        www.friendsofaroostook.org

Email:          friendsofaroostook@yahoo.com

Phone:           207-694-8131

Fax:                207-521-0900

Products and Services:

-the farm operation consists of forty-four

acres of leased land in the Houlton area

-addresses issue of hunger

  1. -fresh produce distributed to food pantries, soup

  kitchens, and similar organizations

  1. -grows garden fresh peas, green beans, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, corn, beets, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, onions, rutabagas, pumpkins, potatoes, three types of winter squash, and cabbage throughout the summer and fall months for those who are in need

  2. -growing organic vegetables

  3. -firewood distributed to those in need


What Makes Friends of Aroostook So Unique?

Friends of Aroostook was formed in 2008 through the Empowering Life Center in Houlton to address issues of those in need.  In the six years since it was established, its growth as an independent non-profit organization has been most remarkable.  Dale Flewelling serves as the volunteer Executive Director of Friends of Aroostook and the amount of time that he has dedicated over the years to managing all the farm-related projects must certainly be off the charts.

During the first year that Friends of Aroostook was operating, 3,600 ears of sweet corn were harvested and distributed to those in need throughout Aroostook County.  The amount of organic and non-organic vegetables that have been grown has dramatically increased.  When Unique Maine Farms visited the twenty-one acres that were cultivated by Friends of Aroostook in August of 2012, more than 120,000 pounds of fresh vegetables were grown that year for the hungry and the homebound.  Some of the recipients of the fresh produce included food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, Meals on Wheels, and individuals and families in need.

As time has gone by, Friends of Aroostook has established several strong relationships with various organizations including Good Shepherd Food Bank’s Mainers Feeding Mainers program.  Through this program their produce is distributed to sixteen area food pantries in Aroostook County and one in Danforth in Washington County. They have also partnered with the Aroostook Area Agency on Aging’s Meals on Wheels program and served over six hundred seniors.  Their produce was also distributed to five area facilities that prepare and serve meals on site.  The Houlton Band of Maliseets has kindly offered the use of their commercial kitchen to process some of their vegetables.

Some of their supporters have included the Rotary of Houlton, Nature’s Circle Farm, DA Family Farms, United Way of Aroostook County, Maine Community Foundation, F.A. Peabody Company, Katahdin Trust Company, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, C.M. Husted Orthopedic Surgery, the County Federal Credit Union, Volunteer Maine, the Salvation Army of Houlton, W. Collins Co., Good Shepherd Food-Bank, and Houlton Wesleyn.

The vegetables that Friends of Aroostook grows includes garden fresh peas, green beans, carrots, corn, cucumbers, zucchini, potatoes, beets, onions, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, rutabagas, three types of winter squash, pumpkins, and cabbage. Johnny’s Selected Seeds has proven to be a wonderful source of their seed.  Friends of Aroostook sets aside several weeks each year for individuals who are interested in harvesting their own fresh vegetables from the fields.

Four part-time employees are hired during the summer to help with the harvest.  Dale volunteers all of his time and efforts as Executive Director of the organization.  The volunteer efforts of some retired seniors from the Eagle Lake area have proven instrumental in carrying out many of the harvesting, preparation, and distribution tasks that need to be addressed. Volunteers are always appreciated.  It is suggested that individuals interested in helping out by donating their time or financial support, contact Dale Flewelling at 207-694-8131.

Harvesting and distributing firewood to needy residents has been part of the Operation Wood Heat component of Friends of Aroostook since its inception.  In the past, Region 2 Forestry Program students have sawed, split, and piled donated tree-length hardwood for those who need assistance with their heating needs.  Local contractors have helped with the harvesting and distribution of the firewood. Three of the households that were recipients of firewood in 2012/2013 did not have electricity or running water in their homes.

The Friends of Aroostook reached out beyond Aroostook County to help Vermont in 2011 when a large percentage of crops were lost due to the major flooding. While the major percentage of the vegetables that are grown by Friends of Aroostook are donated to those in need, a portion of them are sold in order to acquire some funding that can be put back in the program to meet the many expenses. They are licensed to process and sell their vegetables. The Friends of Aroostook operated a Farm Stand in downtown Houlton and also sold some of their food to schools, a hospital, restaurant, and some local organizations.

In 2013, Friends of Aroostook began transitioning to farm independently.  They entered into a lease agreement with an option to purchase an area farm that has forty-four tillable acres, ponds, and a large amount of woodland.  They also acquired all the farm tractors and farm equipment needed to farm.  Acquiring and developing a short/long term storage facility located on the farm that they are leasing is on their agenda.

There are many plans for expanding the farm programs that are operated by Friends of Aroostook in 2014.  They will grow fruits in their 30x70 greenhouse for seniors. They plan on creating a WCSP, a Washington County Seniors Program, that will include a partnership with the Eastern Area Agency on Aging’s Meals on Wheels’ program.  It will be modeled after their ACSP, Aroostook County Seniors’ Program.  Through this project, they will harvest and deliver bulk produce to Calais.  So much has transpired in the farm operations of the Friends of Aroostook since their inception six years ago.  Best wishes are extended to Dale and the volunteers and supporters as they move forward to farm independently on the newly acquired lease of forty-four acres.

Aroostook is a remote area filled with farms and woodlands.  Although agriculture is a predominant occupation, the majority of the food that is grown is sold on a wholesale level to markets outside of the area. Seniors and those in need often have difficulty traveling long distances for fresh produce. This past winter, the area received over twelve feet of snow!  Because of Dale Flewelling and all the individuals who support the work of Friends of Aroostook, those in need of food and firewood are being given some greatly appreciated assistance.

Dale Flewelling has worked tirelessly for the farm programs of Friends of Aroostook.

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