September 21, 2019

A Guest Blog from Darron Collins, President and Alumnus, College of the Atlantic

The College of the Atlantic, a private liberal arts institution in Bar Harbor, Maine, continues to nurture young men and women who are passionate about the environment.

COA was founded in 1969. Its focus areas include environmental sciences, marine mammal habitats, and sustainable food systems. The students come from around the world and many graduates stay on to work as entrepreneurs, farmers, and teachers. I have been involved with COA for some time. Whenever I am in Maine, I try to attend some of the college's cultural events. I’ve also hosted a few receptions and dinners at Skylands.

Earlier this month, COA hosted a student-led fundraising affair at its farm - one of two on-campus that supply the school with organic produce, eggs, and meat. Because of my very busy work and travel schedule, I was unable to attend. COA's President and alumnus, Darron Collins, offered to share some photos from the event and information about the work the students are doing to help less fortunate area residents - enjoy.

We take food very seriously here at College of the Atlantic (COA), way beyond serving good food to our students, staff, and faculty. Food is an essential element of the COA curriculum, where we ask questions like “how can we minimize the ecological impact of food production” and “how can we improve access to healthy, local, organic food to those who have the most difficult time affording it”?

That latter question was the focus of the annual mid-September "Share the Harvest" dinner, an annual fundraising event to support the COA student-led "Share the Harvest" program. The program was founded in 2008 by a cohort of students who saw food injustice and food scarcity right here in our own backyard on Mount Desert Island (MDI). With an initial grant of $1000 from the local non-profit Healthy Acadia, those students designed and built an organization to help bring local, healthy produce to families who couldn’t afford the typically higher prices of that high-quality produce. Working closely with island food pantries and other organizations dedicated to eradicating food insecurity, the program distributes farmstand vouchers, subsidized farm shares, and Harvest Deliveries to community members in need.

Now in its 11th year, "Share the Harvest" is a thriving program on MDI and throughout Maine’s Hancock County. For the sixth year running, we’ve worked collaboratively with the COA-alumnus owned restaurant, Havana, to hold a farm-to-table fundraiser for the program out at COA’s Beech Hill Farm. Despite threatening weather, more than 70 guests came to support and celebrate the extraordinary work of these COA students. If you would like to find out more about the program, please click on the following highlighted link and visit Share the Harvest.