Hannaford Supermarkets has 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, Maine.
The donation from Hannaford will provide funding to enhance The Ecology School’s AgroEcology for Resilient Communities Project, an education program that creates a climate-positive future through a collective of initiatives that address climate change, food systems challenges and food insecurity.
“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 George Parmenter, brand sustainability lead.
“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.”
The ARC Project provides regenerative agriculture learning opportunities for about 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.
“Teaching kids and adults about ecology through food is something that we’ve been doing at The Ecology School for more than 24 years,” said Drew Dumsch, president and CEO, The Ecology School.
“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’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.
- Food Systems Education School Programming, which welcomes about 3,500 students to River Bend Farm annually for hands-on learning opportunities to inspire new ways of looking at food, farming, nature, communities and conservation through the study of ecosystems, food systems and sustainability.
- 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.
- 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.
For more information about the grocer’s sustainability efforts and commitment, visit hannaford.com/sustainability.