Friday, September 13, 2019

New pollinator garden offers another reason to visit Black Brook Preserve

By Briana Bizier

One of Windham’s most pleasant places may well be the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust’s beautiful Black Brook Preserve. Situated between Route 302 and 202, Black Brook Preserve contains 105 acres of gently rolling hills, mature forests, and meandering little creeks just begging to be discovered. Our family has enjoyed several hikes along the preserve’s well-labeled trails, which offer enough variation to hold even a five-year-old hiker’s attention. This past summer, the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust added another attraction to Black Brook Preserve: a pollinator garden.

This 1,000 square foot garden is home to 12 varieties of native plants and will provide much needed habitat for our butterflies, bees and moths. The garden was built this summer with the help of Windham Recreation Department's Summer Day Campers, who came out to learn about pollinators, lend a hand in building the garden, and cultivate the skills they will need as the next generation of environmental stewards. After its construction, the new garden was tended by Land Trust summer interns.

Black Brook Preserve’s pollinator garden is directly in front of the site’s main parking lot off of Windham Center Road. It’s a wonderful place to stop before a hike and search for some of our more colorful local pollinators, like the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly or their more famous cousin the orange-and-black Monarch butterfly.

Upon our arrival in the parking lot, however, my two little assistants were more interested in running down the trails than admiring butterflies and bees or listening to their mother describe the vital role pollinators play in the local ecosystem. Happily, with its gentle bends and frequent, clear trail markings, Black Brook Preserve is the ideal place to explore with children. My assistants enjoyed racing up and down hills, pulling our new puppy behind them, while my husband and I tried to keep up. Together, we followed the Diamond Trail along the perimeter of the preserve, stopping to climb on rocks and admire the “bog bridges” spanning muddy sections of the trail. In one muddy section, Sage, my nine-year-old daughter, spotted raccoon tracks crossing the trail. Her five-year-old brother Ian seemed a bit disappointed to learn raccoons are not pollinators.

The western section of Black Brook Preserve is an open field ringed by a large, mown path. Sage decided to race through the field by herself while the rest of the family stopped for snacks and water. A few minutes later, the tranquility of the preserve was broken by screams and squawks as an enormous turkey erupted from the tall grass beside the trail.

That was huge!” Sage screamed as she ran back to us.

Was that a pollinator?” Ian asked.

I explained that, while wild turkeys don’t pollinate flowers, they do eat insects. After the turkey incident, the kids stayed closer to us as we followed the trail through the grass, watching butterflies dance above the nodding seed heads and late summer flowers. At the hill’s apex, we found a second, smaller trail access connected to Route 202. If you decide to visit Black Brook Preserve, this is the place to turn around and retrace your steps along the trails; the Snowmobile Trail, as we discovered, is only a trail in the winter. In the summer, it’s home to a very healthy crop of poison ivy.

To visit Black Brook Preserve’s trails and new pollinator garden, look for the parking lot off Windham Center Road just south of Route 4. A full map can be found at the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust’s website:

Raymond artist wins second juried art competition

By Lorraine Glowczak

It was just seven months ago, in February, when we learned that Holden Willard of Raymond, a 2017 Windham High School graduate and the son of Don and Megan Willard won an international juried art competition on February 13 at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod. That competition was open to artists from all over the world. Willard, who attends Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, MA., not only received best of show for his self-portrait, but he also won $500 which he received at the gallery’s reception on Friday evening, February 15.

Holden Willard (Photo by Gardner Reed)
Fast forward to August and Willard once again entered his artwork into another juried art competition. This time, it was Mills Pond Gallery in St. James, New York – located along the north shore of Long Island. The focus and name of the exhibit was “Transformations: Figures of Our Other Selves” which began on August 17th. This exhibit explored the artist’s take on what persona or alter ego is present in their artwork. This exhibition featured artwork, from around the U.S., where the transformation or alter ego focused on the creativity of the subject matter.

And, guess who won first place? Again? Our very own Raymond resident – Holden Willard. According to a local Long Island newspaper, The Times Beacon Record - August 15 edition, in an article written by Melissa Arnold, “The idea for  the latest exhibit, Transformations: Figures of Our Other Selves, “came to her [Allison Cruz, Director of the Museum] as she contemplated how young people today have embraced the concept of an alter ego, from multiple Instagram accounts for different facets of their lives to different personas in music and media. The subject intrigued the director, who said alter egos can be seen as dark and hidden or common and ordinary.”

The article also stated that around 10 exhibits are showcased at Mills Pond each year, roughly half of which are juried. Juried exhibits are curated by a guest juror who examines each entry for its artistry and how well it fits the chosen theme, ultimately selecting his or her favorites for exhibition. There were approximately 35 artists from all over the United States who entered the competition.
In addition to winning first place, Willard received a financial award of $700. Congratulations Holden Willard!

Friday, September 6, 2019

Music with a Mission features Susie Pepper & Mixology in concert Friday September 13th

Music with a Mission is proud to feature Susie Pepper and Mixology for a “Night at the Movies” concert featuring many favorite songs from Disney and other beloved musicals in a special Friday evening show, September 13th, at 7 p.m.  Mixology is a group of seasoned professional musicians who have performed hundreds of gigs covering jazz standards, pop, rock, R&B and genres from Elvis to Beyonce.

Susie Pepper is well-known throughout Southern Maine as a talented and dynamic vocalist. Susie won the title of Miss Maine in 2009 and was a featured soloist in the Portland Symphony Orchestra’s 2014 and 2017 “Magic of Christmas” series.  Kelly Muse is the bandleader and pianist for the group with over two decades of experience in performing, teaching, composing, and arranging. 

“We are very excited to bring Susie Pepper and Mixology back to our Music with a Mission concert series,” said Dr. Richard Nickerson, Minister of Music for NWUC. “They put on an impressive show in the spring of 2018 and our audience is eager to have them return.  Susie and Kelly have planned a fun concert of the most popular songs from movies that everyone loves.  This will be a terrific evening for families and kids of all ages from 9 to 90!”
The Music with a Mission concert series is sponsored by the North Windham Union Church, which donates a portion of the proceeds to area non-profits.  Now in our seventh season, MWAM has provided over $65,000 for mission support to the church and other community organizations.
Mixology has chosen to support Hope Acts with the community proceeds from this concert. Hope Acts provides transitional housing for asylum-seekers new to the Greater Portland area.  Their mission is to provide housing, English classes, and other resources that support immigrants in transitioning to life in Greater Portland and in achieving their goals for a successful future.  Hope Acts envisions a community where immigrants are welcomed and empowered socially, emotionally, physically, economically and spiritually.

Tickets will be sold at the door and online and are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $5 for children/students.  The box office opens at 6:00 and the doors will open at 6:30. The North Windham Union Church is located at 723 Roosevelt Trail in Windham.  For more information please call 892-7149 or email

Windham parish collects over 2,500 food items to help feed local children

Thanks to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Windham, many local children were able to enjoy healthy snacks during their summer fun.

Created in the spring of 2016, “Operation Summer Snacks” is an initiative of the parish, located on 919 Roosevelt Trail, that collects food for children in need who receive bags of food from the “Backpackers” program during the school year but, in many cases, do not have the snacks during the summer.

“We totaled more than 2,500 individual snack items, bagging 226 gallon-sized bags that included 31 nut-free bags, 30 nut- and gluten-free bags, and 165 bags with no food restrictions,” said Jill Russell-Morey, a parish catechetical leader. “Each bag contained a mix of 10 snack items, and we tried to include a fruit and juice pouch in each while donations lasted.”

Organizers invite parishioners and community members to drop off snack items in the entrance of the church. From there, the bags are assembled by parish youth and volunteers before being sent to the Windham Food Pantry.
“Three years ago, I contacted the pantry and asked if there was a particular food or item that we could focus on to collect at the parish throughout the summer,” Russell-Morey stated. “They needed individualized snack items to provide to some local families during the summer months. The donations helped supplement these children’s meals. The faith formation commission at the parish
decided that this was a great project to adopt, and we got the word out.”

In addition to individuals and families, generous donations were received this year from the women’s Bible study group at the parish and Windham Cub Scout Pack #805. Parishioners enjoy contributing their donations and time, and the project makes the issue of hunger in the community clearer to both the children and adults at the parish.

“It really puts things into perspective when we think about the number of snacks we eat throughout the week compared to what fits into a gallon-sized bag and will be rationed over a week’s period for these children,” said Russell-Morey. “Everyone wants to ensure the most variety possible for the children.”

Local American Legion shares update of national convention

Members of the American Legion Post 148 of Windham recently returned from a week in Indianapolis, Indiana at the American Legion National Convention. After a week of commissions, committees, caucus, and convention floor activities from August 23rd to 29th, Lin and Dave Tanguay, delegates to the Legion’s 101st and the Legion Auxiliary’s 99th conventions will now spend some time presenting the work of the convention to their respective department, district, post and unit organizations. Dave was a Maine delegate and assigned to the Convention National Security Commission and Lin was an Auxiliary delegate from Maine and sat on the history and upcoming Auxiliary’s 100th Anniversary Committees. Lin also sat in on the constitution and by-laws committee. All these meetings make for a very busy weekend prior to convention.

David and Lin Tanguay at the convention
This 100th year of the Legion and its 101st convention celebrated several major national events in support of veterans. Noteworthy that have both national and local implications to our veterans are as follows: 

The Blue Water Navy Act signed into law this year allows those Naval and Marine Corps personel attached to ships working off the coast of Vietnam during the conflict to be compensated for and treated by the VA for their exposure to Agent Orange.  Post 148 has one individual who, as a Marine Corp, was assigned to a helicopter carrier and was exposed to the chemical. He and thousands of other veterans will now be added to the support structure for agent orange.

The Legion Act, signed by President Trump on July 3, 2019 now makes 420,000 veterans eligible for membership in the Legion as well as their qualifying family members in the Legion Family. The Act strongly supported for years by the Legion recognizes the service of those veterans placed in harm’s way not during times of official armed conflict.

Over 1200 veterans lost their lives during these periods of “non-conflict”. The Act reads: “Any veteran serving after December 7, 1941 with at least one day of active military service and honorably discharged is eligible for membership in this country’s largest veterans’ organization, The American Legion. There are over 19,000 local veterans in Cumberland County eligible to join the American Legion.”

When the National Government shut down last year, many critical groups continued to be paid including our armed forces. Not so, the U.S. Coast Guard who falls under the Department of Homeland Security during peacetime. The American Legion stepped up and provided over a million dollars in grants to the enlisted personnel of the Coast Guard during this crisis. In Maine, well over 60 families were supported out of the Legion Department of Maine.

Another milestone this year was the implementation of the Mission Act that allows veterans to use local medical support when VA support is too far away or not reasonably available. The other important factor is that veteran’s medical records are being digitized for use by both VA and civilian doctors. This program when fully implemented for all veterans will allow any doctor to see what other doctors have prescribed or recommended.

Each and every one of these laws and programs were instituted and/or endorsed by the American Legion. Like the GI Bill or the Veterans Administration Acts before them, these bills were the product of The American Legion and any member can be justifiably proud of their involvement in the Legion.

There were also many briefings and discussions on two major veterans’ issues:  Homeless veterans and veterans’ drug and suicide crisis.  In these areas much has been done, but much still needs to be done. 

On the local level, developing veteran camaraderie with the Field-Allen Post Veteran Coffee program (Every Wednesday from 9  a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Windham Veteran Center) and the very much appreciated, collection of non-perishable food items on Wednesdays at the WVC by the Legion Post 148 and delivered to the Homeless Vet Food Pantry at the Portland Veteran Center has made an impact in the local area. 

There is an open invitation to all veterans to drop in for coffee each Wednesday for 9 a.m. to 11 a.m at the Windham Veteran’s Center behind Hannaford’s North Windham. The Legion will also gladly accept any non-perishable food items for fellow vets with food insecurity issues. 
The American Legion: Veterans Serving Veterans for 100 years and looking to the next 100 years.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Worm composting at the Windham Farmer’s Market

By Briana Bizier
A handful of visitors to the Windham Farmer’s Market last Saturday ended up leaving with a few new, hard-working pets. One hundred new pets, to be exact.

Jock Robie of Mainely Worm Bins traveled to Windham to teach farmer’s market patrons about indoor worm composting using their kitchen scraps. Unlike traditional composting, which requires an outdoor compost pile, worm composting can be done anywhere by anyone. The results of indoor worm composting, called castings, make an impressive soil amendment. Worm castings contain microbes, fungi, and plant nutrients. When added to soil, they help feed the plants, help the plants resist pests and disease, and stimulate plant growth.

Jock showed the audience several photographs of lettuce, arugula, and high bush blueberries grown in a mixture of potting soil and worm castings. The vegetables that had been grown with worm castings were much larger and lusher than those grown in regular potting soil, and the corn that had been grown in soil amended with worm castings was over seven feet tall!

Worm composting, as Jock explained, is very straightforward. The worms live in damp, shredded newspaper in a large bin. Once a week, the worms are fed a quart of kitchen scraps. want to feed your worms a balanced diet,” Jock explained. Any fruits, vegetables, and even faded flowers are fair game, although worm owners will want to avoid meat, fish, or dairy, as those can be smelly. The worms even enjoy coffee grounds and coffee filters, but they can’t digest eggshells unless the eggshells have been pulverized in a blender or food processor first.

As Jock explained what meals the worms enjoy, he showed a picture of a small jack o’ lantern in a worm compost bin. After several weeks, the pumpkin had been reduced to a pile of dark, nutrient-rich
worm castings.

Who would have thought those little things could eat so much?” an audience member asked.
Lots of the eating is done by microbes,” Jock replied. “Worms don’t have teeth, so the food needs to decompose a little first. Once it’s soft, the worms eat the food and the microbes.”

After three to four months of weekly feedings, it’s time to harvest the worm castings. Jock brought a “ripe” worm composting bin to the Farmer’s Market to demonstrate the harvest procedure. As he described the process, Jock poured a dark, loamy mixture of shredded newspaper, worm castings, and worms through a large metal sifter. Worms and newspaper scraps destined for a fresh bin stayed on top while the worm castings fell to the bottom.

The entire process was surprisingly clean and odor-free. This journalist is relieved to report that worm castings look, and feel, exactly like dirt. But they pack a powerful fertilizer punch, even for houseplants. The castings can be mixed directly into soil, or they can be combined with water and aerated to make “worm tea.”

Also, unlike traditional outdoor composting, worm composting runs happily throughout the long Maine winters. Jock reports that he has sixty worm bins in his cellar, creating compost throughout the year. When asked how many worms you need, Jock replied that you can have as many or as few bins as you’d like.

What you produce in your kitchen is enough for your own kitchen garden,” he explained.

After watching Jock’s presentation, my two little assistants were very excited to help make their own worm composting bin. This began with a wooden trellis at the bottom of a large, plastic crate to keep the bin from becoming too wet. Then, my assistants added about two pounds of dry newspaper on top of the trellis to absorb excess moisture. After that came the “bedding;” shredded, damp newspaper that had already been in worm bins for three to four months.

This is the worm furniture,” Jock said. “Worms don’t like light, and they don’t like to be dried out.”
After adding the bedding, my assistants helped Jock open a bin of one hundred squirming worms. 

While this writer was envisioning a mess of slimy night crawlers, our usual choice for fishing with worms, composting worms are actually very small and a dull red color. They typically live in decomposing leaves on the forest floor.

They look like nails,” Ian, my five-year-old assistant, declared. “Only without the flat part on the top.”

Sage, my eight-year-old assistant, agreed that these worms are, “totally not gross.”

Once our hundred new pets had settled into their shredded newspaper “furniture,” we helped Jock add a quart of kitchen waste, which included onions skins, orange peels, coffee grounds, and wilted flowers now destined to become worm castings for our garden.

As the hundred tiny worms squirmed down between layers of damp newspaper, we covered the worm bin with a layer of plastic bags to lock in moisture and dry newspaper to block the light. A row cover across the top of the bin helps to prevent fruit flies, another decomposer who would be much less welcome in our kitchen. Jock promised to contact me in three to four months to help with my first harvest of the worm castings, and my assistants helped me carry our new worm composting bin to the car.

This is amazing!” Ian declared triumphantly.

I had to agree.

If you’re interested in worm composting, you can find Jock’s blog at:, or you can contact him directly at:

St. Ann’s Episcopal Church host annual community Welcome Back Weekend celebration

By Lorraine Glowczak

It’s that time of year when the school doors open and young and old alike return after summer fun activities and from vacations. As people return and begin to settle down for the fall and winter, St. Ann’s Episcopal Church at 40 Windham Center Road welcome area residents back with a community celebration. The annual event is a weekend long festivity that begins on Saturday, September 7th from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and continuing Sunday, September 8th.

Saturday activities will include a Sparks Ark Animal Show at 3 p.m. along with a “Touch a Truck” from the Windham Fire Department, a bounce house, music, cotton candy and ice cream
“On Sunday September 8th, we welcome back folks away from us for the summer with breakfast between our 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. services,” stated St. Ann’s Rector, Tim Higgins. “Sunday School registration and kick off will also be included and a B-B-Que after the 10 a.m. service – by with the bounce house, music, cotton candy and a lawn games returning in the afternoon.”

Windham author and St. Ann’s parishioner, Norma Fitz, will also be present to launch her recently published memoir, “One Child, One Million Prayers: Driving through Hell in a Minivan.” She will not only be available to sign her books, but the launch party will include special guest, Libby Rulman, a five-year-old cancer survivor, who will be on-site collecting donations for Libby's Ouchie Box Toy Drive to benefit Maine Children's Cancer Program. Cash donations for Make-A-Wish Maine will be accepted at the snack table.

Also, fifty early release copies were donated earlier this month to the nonprofit, Camp Sunshine. Every family who attended the Nephrology and Solid Organ Transplant Week received a book. A signed copy of Fitz’s book will also be auctioned off at Kokatosi Campground's 
Make-A-Wish auction.

"We are happy to welcome the community of Windham to our location at St. Ann's to share in the fun and joy of our Welcome Back Weekend. Our hospitality is extra-ordinary, and we hope to share it with all over the weekend of September 7th and 8th,” Higgins said. “I hope you can join us "