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Little farm stand yields big impact for Mainers

By Ryan Fecteau, Communications & Marketing Coordinator

The boy scrambled across the sand towards the sound of the food truck parked up on the street. His face glistened with excitement as dirt kicked up into the air behind him. He reached his presumed destination. His mom leaned down and asked him, what kind of ice cream did you want? The boy hesitated for a moment and pointed across the street, I don’t want ice cream, he said. I want to buy vegetables to feed the hungry.

A self-serve farm stand resided across from Scarborough Beach State Park on Black Point Road. The stand’s owner and operator Francine O’Donnell, an entrepreneur at heart and avid organic gardener, started it in 2011. The story of the little boy was relayed to her by friend who overhead the conversation this summer.

“I felt [the little boy’s story] was very powerful,” O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell grows the vegetables, mostly heirloom tomatoes and herbs, from organic seeds at what she dubbed Sprout Organic Farm in Cornish, Maine. O’Donnell was inspired to start the stand and donate its proceeds to Good Shepherd Food Bank after hearing Kristen Miale, the Food Bank’s president, outline how each donated dollar translates into four meals.

Sprout Organic Farm

“This year I set my sights on increasing my donation to Good Shepherd Food Bank by 50 percent,” shares O’Donnell. “I am pleased to have done so [by] raising $4,000 …one tomato at a time.”

The $4,000 raised by O’Donnell’s stand will result in the distribution of 16,000 meals for food insecure Mainers.

“I love the work that [the Food Bank does],” reflects O’Donnell. “We all need to do something and this is my little contribution.”

The self-serve farm stand’s “little contribution” provides meals to Maine families in need. In addition, as the story of the little boy proves, the stand is symbolic. O’Donnell’s entrepreneurial spirit resulted in a mechanism for supporting the Food Bank, but it also stirred social responsibility. The stand’s presence motivated a young boy to recognize the significance of helping others and as O’Donnell concludes, “That’s when the real magic happens.”

O’Donnell picks the fresh produce daily and typically sets up the stand Friday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., mid-July through Labor Day. Follow Sprout Organic Farm’s gardening journey via its Facebook: click here.