FoodCorps Alumna is helping Maine families start gardens

By Mary Pols, Press Herald

Ali Mediate is the founder of Maine Foodscapes, a group of entrepreneurs and volunteers aiming to educate on local foods while enabling Mainers to start growing on their own. Her first event was a community nose-to-tail butchering workshop in February 2017 and this year, she lead the way in a campaign to help low- income families in 14 towns across York and Cumberland counties install raised beds and become backyard farmers (with ongoing mentorship). We called the FoodCorps and AmeriCorps veteran up to talk about how their gardens grew, what inspired her and how she plans to scale the whole project up next year. (In case you were wondering, Mediate is pronounced just like it sounds, as if she’s going to handle your dispute).

SPHERE OF INFLUENCE: Mediate first came to Maine from Boston as a University of Southern Maine freshman in 2009. She transferred to the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, in 2012 and liked it so much she stuck around after graduation, working as an intern for a program called GRuB (Garden-Raised Bounty, previously known as the Kitchen Garden Project). That program was inspired by Dan Barker, who has built more than 1,000 gardens for people in need and is the author of “How to Give Gardens to People,” and the GRuB model is essentially the template for what Mediate is doing in Maine. Wait, why did she move back? “It felt like my heart was still in New England.”