Magic Food Bus
Healthy Peninsula’s Magic Food Bus will launch it's 14th season on June 29th, 2023. The Magic Food Bus is a seasonal traveling farm stand and mobile library that delivers free, fresh local produce, books, and information about food security resources to 14 locations on Deer Isle and the Blue Hill peninsula.
Staffed primarily by volunteers, the Magic Food Bus has been growing every year, in size, reach, and complementary activities. In addition to purchasing produce from local farmers, we have developed a dedicated group of volunteer gardeners, who last summer donated 3,587 lbs. of produce to be distributed to our patrons. We also partner with The Gleaning Initiative to distribute many pounds of gleaned produce that might otherwise go to waste. Last year, the Magic Food Bus distributed 7,597 lbs. of produce in all, which equals about 10,079 meals worth of vegetables, 69% of which was harvested and donated by farm gleaning and community gardeners.
An array of community partners supports Healthy Peninsula’s Magic Food Bus, including the Healthy Island Project, The Gleaning Initiative, Brooklin Food Corps and School Garden, and many local farms, community gardeners, and volunteers. This year, the Island Community Center and Friend Memorial Library (Brooklin) locations will include special story times for younger patrons.
This popular project was started in 2011 when Sedgwick School Librarian Margaret Bixby’s great idea was recognized as a perfect match for Healthy Peninsula’s Good Food Project. The focus on trying new and healthy foods is matched by the availability of library or donated books for both children and adults—good food and good summer reading. If you're interested in learning how the program got rolling, check out Margaret Bixby's short history here.
Since its beginnings in Sedgwick in 2011, the Magic Food Bus successfully expanded to Deer Isle, Stonington, Blue Hill, Penobscot, Brooksville, Castine, Brooklin, and Surry and often serves more than 100 people weekly. With an eye toward long-term sustainability, Healthy Peninsula has teamed up with several partner organizations and energetic individuals to help with collection of produce, volunteer power, fundraising, and broader community involvement. Anna Wind, our Healthy Eating coordinator, is leading the efforts to keep the wheels on the bus goin' round and round for this season. But you know, just in case you're confused, the Magic Food Bus really lives in the cars of our volunteer drivers.
The most natural and exciting fit for collaboration continues with the Healthy Acadia Gleaning Initiative. Rachel Emus, Gleaning Coordinator, organizes volunteers to harvest excess produce from farmers, orchards, farmer’s markets, and home and school gardens, and disperses them to local food pantries and community meal sites. The Magic Food Bus program is fortunate to be the recipient of much of this effort. Along with grabbing a book, visits to the stops may also include taste-testing, socializing with friends and neighbors and swapping recipes.
Fundraising continues to be an important element in the sustainability of the Magic Food Bus. We depend on, and greatly appreciate donations through Healthy Peninsula. Through the years, we have been honored with generous support from The Maine Community Foundation's Hancock County and Yoakum Funds, the Stanley Family Foundation, United Way of Eastern Maine, the Blue Hill Co-op, Maine Farmland Trust, The Quimby Family Foundation, Bar Harbor Bank and Trust, The First, Tradewinds, St. Francis by the Sea Episcopal Church, and Flash! in the Pans. Thank you one and all!