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'We just wanted to be able to give back': Couple learns farming to help feed hundreds in community

A couple from Maine has created an organic farm and donates the produce to dozens of local organizations.

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A husband and wife from Maine with almost no farming experience are now growing enough organic produce to help feed hundreds of people.

"My goal is to grow super healthy beautiful organic produce to give people," said Erica Berman, co-founder Veggies to Table co-founder in Newcastle.

She admits, she is still learning the ropes as a farmer, but knows that there are a lot of Mainers struggling to get enough food, especially in her home area of Lincoln County.

"I just find it heartbreaking the idea not to have enough food to eat daily. I don't know how anyone can lead a productive life without having healthy food," Berman said.

Berman and husband Alain Ollier founded Veggies to Table in 2019, turning nearly one acre of their property into an organic farm where they grow a variety of vegetables of flowers. They donate all of the produce to about 30 different local organizations.

"We're just participating at our small, very small level," said Ollier. It's like we have this land and we just wanted to be able to give back."

The couple moved to Maine from Paris in 2012. At the time, neither had any experience working a farm. Erica was a business owner and Alain worked as a massage therapist and teacher. They now get help from dozens of community volunteers each day to make sure their farm thrives.

"We learn as we go and its just a process," Ollier said. "Up to now we were just focusing on what we can do and this is manageable."

"It's a very busy, beautiful happy lifestyle," Berman added. "I'm currently working between 70 and 80 hours a week. I'm passionate about it so..."

In just 2020, Veggies to Table donated more than 11,000 pounds of organic produce along with 450 bouquets of flowers.

Some of that food went to the nearby Jefferson Area Community Food Pantry.

"Probably in the next few weeks she's going to give me 50 bouquets and I'll hand everyone in my pantry a bouquet as they leave," said Allison Brooks of the Jefferson Area Community Food Pantry.

Berman says the need helps feed her and her husband's desire to help.

"When I'm hungry I can't do anything, even if it's 15 minutes, if I'm hungry so imagine being hungry every day," Berman said.

Berman says she hopes to add an educational aspect to the farm within the next few years to teach people how to grow their own organic vegetables.