By Julia Harper

The Good Food Council of Lewiston-Auburn is eagerly moving ahead to support the implementation phase of the “Local Food, Local Places” (LFLP) Action Plan in the twin cities, spurred on by the recent vote from the Lewiston City Council to adopt the plan. This endorsement validates the collaborative work that the community has done since last October, after an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) technical assistance grant was awarded to St. Mary’s Nutrition Center.

Collaborators who created and continue to take leadership roles in implementing the plan represent varied community sectors of agriculture, health care, business, and municipal leadership. Immigrant community members have been well represented in the process, through the Somali Bantu Community Association (SBCA), New Roots Cooperative Farm, Sustainable Livelihoods Relief Organization (SLRO), Cooperative Development Institute (CDI), and other organizations.

The four goals that provide the foundation for action steps are as follows:
• Strengthen access to local food while expanding market opportunities and infrastructure for farm and food businesses.
• Integrate local food and agriculture into city planning and economic development strategies.
• Build food and agriculture as a defining brand for Lewiston-Auburn.
• Increase equitable access, ownership, and preservation of land to grow food in Lewiston-Auburn.

In addition to being involved in developing this Action Plan, many African community members will benefit from its implementation. In L-A, community gardens serve many Congolese, Angolan, and Somali families, and Somali farmers have created New Roots and Liberation Farms. In fact, SBCA, under Muhidin Libah’s leadership, has recently partnered with Agrarian Trust to establish the Little Jubba Central Maine Commons and is in the process of purchasing a 100-acre farm in nearby Wales. The land purchase will mean Liberation Farms’ program can scale up vegetable and flint corn production, expand their herd of goats for halal meat, and, most importantly, guarantee community food security for the more than 150 families farming this land. Secure, long-term land tenure also ensures farmers will be able to hand down their agricultural traditions, preserving their cultural heritage.

There are 16 action steps in the plan so the group welcomes anyone interested in learning more and taking action. For more information, contact Julia Harper of Good Food Council of Lewiston-Auburn at [email protected]