Friday, August 18, 2017

First Annual Windham Trails Day creates a sense of community and stewardship by Lorraine Glowczak

The Windham Parks and Recreation Department in collaboration with Maine Alpine Guiding, hosted the first annual Windham Trails Day on Saturday, August 12 at Lowell Nature Preserve in East Windham and Donna Lippman Park on Route 302. The morning consisted of cleaning the trails of natural debris, followed by a free BBQ at noon and a free workshop on subjects such as mountaineering, ice climbing and hiking from Maine Alpine Guiding. Participants also received free t-shirts.
Although one goal was to remove branches, brush and weeds from the trails, there were other
objectives in mind that included bringing people together to foster community and a love of the outdoors.  “The primary goal was met on Saturday,” stated Linda Brooks, Director of Parks and Recreation . . . that being to have people come together and volunteer for the community and, in return, have some good food and fellowship.”

Molly Bennett, the Park Ranger Intern reiterated Brooks’ sentiments. “Even though there were a small number of people there, there was the sense of friendship and community between the participants,” Bennett said. “When I was out on the trails working with others, people were learning about each other and laughing together in minutes. They were even helping each other identify plants and swapping stories about wildlife sightings in Windham. Some local Girl Scout troop leaders seemed like they enjoyed the event and hopefully will use Lowell Preserve and Maine Alpine Guiding in their own troop activities.”

The idea to have a Windham Trails Day was the brainchild of Rick Charity, owner and guide of Maine Alpine Guiding, a new guiding and eco-tourism company in Windham. “He called us and told us about his company and that he would like to organize a day for trail work and community,” Bennett continued. “I started working on it that same day. We set it on August 12 so that we would have time to publicize the event over the summer, but next year we are hoping to have it in June to coincide with National Trails Day.”

For next year’s event, the hope is to expand the offerings by incorporating a 5k race with Baxter Outdoors, a company that does trail races throughout Maine and is also a brewery. In fact, conversations with Baxter Outdoors are already in the works. “Adam Platz, from Baxter Outdoors, is excited about the idea and we are working together to plan a trail race, which should attract outdoor enthusiasts around Maine,” Bennett said.

Maine Outdoor Guiding, an outdoor adventure program that includes advanced expedition style adventures to Mt. Katahdin and ice climbing explorations in Graton Notch and which is also a Licensed/Master Level Adventure Therapy Program hopes to be a part of next year’s event again.
It’s important to Windham Parks and Recreation to include local businesses to be a part of this yearly event. “We will encourage local businesses to join Maine Alpine Guiding in helping to make this a great event,” Brooks began. “And we will hope to collaborate with other entities to expand the offerings next year.”

Both Bennett and Brooks are discussing various ideas that could possibly be part of future trail day events. Thoughts discussed so far include, but are not limited to, mountain bike racing, live music, bounce house and more, to encourage a more community members to have fun while also being a steward to the trails.

One participant, Cindy Murphy, often walks the trails at the 308 acre Lowell Preserve and wanted to help out so others can enjoy the trail too. “I like hiking in Lowell Preserve,” she said. “I like the idea of repairing the trails and keeping it safe for others.”
Bennett stated that the Annual Trails Day Event would also be a good opportunity for scouts to earn badges and do community service, as well as high school students who need community service hours to graduate.

As for the actual clearing of the trails, a lot was completed at the two locations in the three hour time-frame that was dedicated to the nature paths. “We got pretty much all that we wanted done at Lowell Preserve, although it is a big property with a lot of room for improvement in mapping, signage, and more,” explained Bennett. “Lippman Park got a lot done with trash pickup and brush trimming with help from the Lions Club.  For Linda and me, this event is not so much about the amount of work completed as a sense of community and a celebration of the outdoors.  I was inspired by their attendance and hard work.”

Windham Library to host Solar Eclipse Event by Walter Lunt

Astronomy buffs say the solar show will be less than spectacular, but worthwhile viewing

The moon over Maine will obscure less than 60 percent of the sun on Monday. And although darkening is expected to be minimal, local eclipse fans have made viewing plans at work, from home or at special gatherings.

The Windham Public Library will broadcast live streaming coverage (so to speak) of the solar eclipse for up to 50 people in the downstairs meeting room. Children’s room coordinator Diane Currier said the library’s Solar Eclipse Event will also feature information, activities and safe outdoor viewing of the partial eclipse, utilizing pinhole projections and protective solar eyeglasses. The event begins at 2 p.m.

Safe eclipse eyewear is a must for direct viewing. Most local stores are sold out, but Currier says most visitors to the library event will get to use and keep a pair of the solar glasses.

An eclipse of the sun occurs when the moon moves into a precise position between the earth and the sun, blocking its light. Even more phenomenal than the event itself is the fact that, at the time of eclipse, the diameter of the moon and the sun, as viewed from earth, is a virtual match. The result, as someone once put it, of sheer heavenly happenstance. 

The Great American Eclipse, as it’s being called, is unique in that it is centered only on the American continent. Totality will occur only in a narrow band, 67 miles wide, from Oregon to South Carolina. It will zoom across the country in 90 minutes. Latitudes north and south of the line will experience varying degrees of partiality. In the Portland area, 58.6 percent of the sun’s surface will be covered, resulting only in a slight dimming. That is, day will not become night and the stars will not come out, as in a total eclipse.

“The dimming will be slight, almost imperceptible,” according to Ed Gleason, Windham resident and director of the University of Maine’s Southworth Planetarium in Portland; who adds, “The planetarium will be open with live NASA feeds of the eclipse starting at 1:45 p.m. and, weather permitting, we will also have someone outside with a scope to enable people to observe the eclipse.”

The slow dimming of the sun, even during a partial eclipse, produces eerie daylighting, unlike the fading light caused by dark clouds passing in front of the sun. As described in a publication by Bill Nye (the science guy) recently, “Filtered sunlight creates alternating bands of light and dark on the ground – it’s otherworldly and spooky.”

Looking directly at the sun will damage eyes, possibly leading to blindness. The only safe way to view the eclipse is through special-purpose filters, such as eclipse glasses. Sunglasses or exposed photo film (negatives) are not safe.

Ron Thompson of Southern Maine Astronomical Group, who recently hosted a program on the eclipse at Windham Library said, “A solar eclipse is something you’ll never forget,” but went on to warn sternly and adamantly against watching it with the naked eye. Addressing both adults and children at the session, he added, “I don’t mean to scare you – but I do.”

Thompson reviewed safe ways to view an eclipse, including watching it indirectly by constructing various pinhole devices and projecting the image onto a flat surface; #14 welders glass is safe. Other alternatives are solar telescopes and so-called sunoculars (specially filtered binoculars). On-line strategies for safe viewing can be accessed at eclipse.aas/ and 

Of recent concern is the sale of counterfeit, or fake, eclipse glasses. One way to test whether solar glasses are safe to use is to make sure they are stamped with an ISO certification label. In addition, the American Astronomical Society recommends an at-home test. They suggest looking through the special lenses – you should not be able to see anything except for the sun or anything significantly bright, like halogen or LED lights. Even those should look dim. Also, check for tears or scratches.
The best viewing time for Monday’s eclipse will be between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. If you miss it, just wait for the next one . . . in 2024.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Discover the increasing popular practice of Qigong by Lorraine Glowczak

Raymond Hill Community Center (RHCC) located at 7 Raymond Hill Road recently began offering weekly Qigong lessons on Saturday mornings from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. The first class began on Saturday, July 15 with plans to continue the practice into the fall. 
The classes are taught by Karen Rendall, an instructor from the Maine Center for Taijiquan and Qigong, and they provide an opportunity for the community to experience the relaxation advantages and explore the many reported benefits of the ancient Chinese healthcare practice. Everyone, no matter the level of experience, is invited to participate. The cost is $5 per class. Registrations are not required as walk-ins are welcomed.
Qigong practitioners move in a meditative, calming movement

Pronounced “Chee Gong”, the meditative movement practice is an integration of physical postures, breathing techniques, and focused intentions. Often associated with its cousin, Tai Chi (also written Taijiquan), the awareness of Qigong in Western culture began in the 1950’s and has been reported to be approximately 2,500 years. However, archaeologists and historians have discovered qigong-like techniques that are at least five thousand years old.

Qigong has slowly become more popular in recent years. According to the Maine Center for Taijiquan and Qigong website, “Taiji & Qigong practice is becoming increasingly popular around the world. Part of the resurgence in popularity of this fabulous art can be attributed to increased cultural exchange, divergence from traditional teaching methods, evolved scientific understanding of efficacy of methods and growing demand for low cost holistic wellness modalities.”

Many participate in the practice of Qigong due to the reported benefits.

“I was motivated to create it [the Qigong class] as a result of the ‘Healthy Aging Initiative’ happening here in Raymond,” explained Mary-Therese Duffy, one of the founding members of RHCC. “The research and recommendations regarding Qigong practice and aging is striking.”

Multiple scholarly articles can be found that verifies Duffy’s assertion, including scientific studies from Harvard Medical Center and Yale Medical School. 

According to the Journal of International Society of Life Information Sciences, the positive effect that Qigong practice has on the aging process should not be ignored. “These results show that qigong exercise decrease by about 50 percent the incidence of tota1 mortality, mortality due to stroke, and morbidity due to stroke. At the end of 30 years, 86 patients survived in the qigong group and 68 in the control group, these results clearly show that qigong has significant potential for preventing strokes and extending life.”

Popular magazines have also published articles regarding Qigong, including a Newsweek article published in September 27, 2004 entitled, “The New Science of Mind and Body.” In that and other magazine articles, the additional benefits of practicing Qigong include but are not limited to stress relief, improving asthma, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and headaches.

Those who attend the Saturday classes at RHCC include those who have been practicing Qigong for many years as well as those who are experiencing it for the first time. Participants who have made the practice a part of their daily life claim to experience certain benefits.

Charlotte Engelman and Scott Sutton
Scott Sutton from Raymond stated that his practice creates a level of wellness in his life. “Qigong is taking time to connect my body and spirit to experience greater wellness, peace and joy in the moment,” he said.

Charlotte Engelman, also from Raymond, who has enjoyed the practice of Qigong off and on for 20 years states that it helps her face daily life more calmly. “The centering aspect blocks out the craziness of life and gives me a calm feeling for the day,” Engelman began. “And when I go out into the world, I feel I have more strength and stamina to face whatever comes my way.”

“My practice keeps me mentally grounded, improves my quality of sleep, and keeps me feeling physically strong and balanced,” stated Rendall who has been practicing since 2002 and began teaching in 2011.

For those who are experiencing Qigong for the first time or our new at the practice of Qigong, Rendall calms any apprehensions one might have. “It's challenging to walk into a room full of strangers and participate in something that you might not know much about,” began Rendall. “Every Qigong instructor I have learned from has worked hard to make participants feel comfortable, they have encouraged people to move with respect to their own comfort levels, and to have an enjoyable experience. I encourage everyone who asks me about Tai Chi and Qigong to visit a class to try it out. 

In a basic or beginner class, the moves tend to be simple and are practiced with a slow meditative quality - often people leave class and feel more relaxed.”  

For more information about Qigong (and/or Taiji), contact the Maine Center for Taijiquan and Qigong at or call 207 780-9581.

From happy camping to commercial hub - the previous life of Walmart’s site by Walter Lunt

"Windham Then and Now” - The fifth in a series of historical topics about Windham’s unique history and heritage

Some local residents once said the establishment of a Walmart store in the center of North Windham was a watershed moment in the transition from country town to suburb. Today, many residents concede they don’t know or can’t remember what occupied the site before the big store’s arrival in 1994.

Then: Sebago Basin
The Manchester family, descendants of Stephen Manchester (a founding settler), have lived on the property for well over 150 years. In 1958, Lawrence and Francis Manchester established Sebago Basin Tenting, a campground that became a destination for thousands of visitors from all over New England and Canada. Some stayed for a few days and others, seasonal patrons, settled in for the summer. The area boasted 29 original campsites with a variety of activities from swimming and boating at nearby Sebago Basin beaches to ball games, dancing, horseshoes and campfire sing-alongs. Their son, David, and wife Carol, shared some of the memories.

Writing in the Windham Historical Society’s quarterly newsletter, retired teacher and author Carol Manchester reminisced, “The (Manchester) family-owned business on Route 302 . . . was easily recognized by its iconic A-frame structure (rec hall), a local landmark (and) point of reference for visitors.”

Built in 1961, the imposing rec hall, 32 feet to the ridgepole and easily visible from 302, accommodated registrations, dispensed information and was the central meeting place for gab, games, dancing and leisure.

A gazebo was soon added. On warm summer evenings a pull-down screen would be hung from its side, film threaded through a 16mm projector and movies shown to campers who would gather under the stars, seated on in-the-round benches.

In those times, a Maine camping experience was unique. David recalled a New Jersey camper’s remark about the crystal-clear Sebago Basin water. “He stepped into the water, looked down, and exclaimed, ‘I can see my feet.’”

Over the 1960s and 70s, the campground expanded from 29 to 175 camp sites. The expansion, maintenance and administration was, according to David, the combined effort of the Manchester family, including his parents, six brothers and sisters, cousins, friends and neighbors.

“For us, it was a great place to grow up. And many of the campers became our close friends.”
As Sebago Tenting grew, so did the variety of campers and activities. The sandy basin beaches welcomed sunbathers and swimmers. The 20 or so boat slips afforded lake exploration and water skiing. Visitors also delighted in the live bands, square dancing, camp fires, cultural speakers and ping pong and pinball in the rec hall.

Highlight activities for kids included hayrides behind the old Farm-All tractors; messy, but tasty, watermelon eating contests; decorating bicycles and floats for holiday parades through the wooded roadways and campfire songs with local singer/composer Rick Charette.

Now: Walmart sits in the location now.
Competitive games, remembers David, were wildly popular. “Every night, the ball field filled up with spectators to cheer on their favorite softball teams. Sometimes there was even a double-header.” Enthusiasm also ran high for tug-of-war games, 3-legged races and horseshoe tournaments.

“We had so many wonderful people who energized the games and activities,” recalled David, “There was one guy. We called him the Mayor. He had a big presence. He looked and spoke like a mayor, a real unique personality and a natural supervisor. He was always helping and organizing.” The mayor, he said, returned for many seasons. Of the 175 campers each year, many were repeat patrons, and over 50 were seasonal. 

In addition to being the owners, “Our family was major participants,” said David.

The high degree of hustle & bustle also spawned entrepreneurial opportunities for youth. David and Carol’s son, Lawrence, opened a steamed hot dog stand. Another son, Walter, became a bicycling newsboy, delivering Portland Press Herald and Evening Express newspapers to the campers.

Through the 1970s and 80s, the camping experience and equipment became more sophisticated. The introduction of canvas top and pop-up trailers, and later, motor homes and RV’s prompted modern updates to the Manchester campground, including electricity and bath houses. Also, a name-change that was more in keeping with the times seemed needed. Sebago Basin Tenting became Sebago Basin Camping.

In February 1986, a major set-back: Vandals broke into the A-frame and started a fire. As described in Carol Manchester’s article, it was “the beginning of the end. Because of the deep, snow-covered quarter mile road to it, firefighters could not save the building. The business opened for the next two seasons but the A-frame, center of the campground experience, was gone and greatly increased insurance premiums - it closed after 30 summers.”

For those who remember, a shopping trip to Walmart and surrounding stores can be somewhat surreal. Whether treading through housewares or the market, it’s the same space occupied by 30 years of camping vacationers, back, not so long ago, in those country-town days.

Farmers Market at the Rotary - It’s all about connections by Jennifer Davis

Sweet and juicy tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, fresh herbs, fresh baked cookies and sweet breads;  if your mouth is watering at the mention of these words, then what follows next will surely strike your interest - a farmers market where one can purchase fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables and homemade goods. 
The newly formed Farmers Market at the Rotary offers that and more every Thursday from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Seavey’s parking lot located at 421 Roosevelt Trail in Windham. Other items that are available to purchase include: pork, eggs, goat milk soap, handmade baskets, granola, certified organic produce and herbs.

Farmers Market at the Rotary is an independent group organized by Julee Applegarth from Sweet Relief Farm in Standish. It features local artisans from groups such as: Mini-Hooves Farm from Limington, The Purple Wisk from Westbrook, Bantu Somalian Community from Lewiston and Sweet Relief Farm from Standish. 

Community farmers markets have grown substantially in the past 10 years and are the place for entrepreneurs to test products and community members to gather. Their presence adds economic growth as well as increases the community networks.  In fact, Applegarth expressed it best, “It is all about connections,” she said as she explained how this farmer’s market began.  

Currently there is not a town sponsored Farmers Market in Windham, but it is in the works.  “Although Farmers Market at the Rotary’ on Thursday afternoons  is a sole entrepreneurial venture and not a town sponsored market, it is in the plans with the Town of Windham to have a weekly farmer’s market as soon as next summer,” says Tom Bartell Director of Economic Development.  “It is our hope that by next summer, we will have many area farmers gathering in one location on a weekly basis to provide fresh produce to the community and to promote economic sustainability for area farmers.”  

On Tuesday evening August 8, the proposed town sponsored farmers market was on the agenda to be reviewed at the Town Council Meeting. The Town Council continued its strong support for a farmers market and tasked the Windham Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) to continue its organizational efforts toward starting a market early next year. The Council asked WEDC to return with a more detailed plan and any requests for resources in the next few months.

 For now, Farmers Market at the Rotary is the place to go for fresh local produce and goods.  If you miss them on Thursdays, you can reach out to the artisans directly and check out what is upcoming by liking their Facebook page: Farmers Market at the Rotary. 

If you are interested in participating in and selling produce at the proposed Town of Windham farmer’s market, please contact Bartell at

Friday, August 4, 2017

A local couple uses their passion for dance to give back to the community by Lorraine Glowczak

Susan and Raymond Dupuis are just two ordinary individuals who have a passion for dance. They also both have an intrinsic yearning to take that passion and serve others in need within the community through various fundraising efforts.
When they give their time and services, the couple shift into their alter egos, widely known here in the Windham and Raymond areas as Flamin’ Raymin and Sizzlin’ Suzzin. 

It all began approximately 25 years ago, when as single parents, the two met at a line dance event. Both being single parents who loved to dance, the two quickly became a pair – going to events and teaching line dance at least six times a week. “Line dancing was a very big activity during this time,” stated Susan Dupuis. “Sadly, after about seven years, its popularity seemed to take a dive. About the same time, we gravitated into entertainment.”’s when their DJ business began. As far as the notable name, the story goes like this: “We began using the names Flamin’ Raymin’ and Sizzlin’ Suzzin when we became dance instructors,” Susan Dupuis began. “Ray had been known as ‘Framing Raymond’ since he was known as one of the fastest framers around in the construction industry. One night he wore a flame shirt to a line dance event and he was dubbed Flamin’ Raymin. We decided I would need a catchy name so as a joke, we came up with Sizzlin’ Suzzin’. Had I known it was going to stick, I would have chosen a different name,” Susan Dupuis joked.

Over the years, the two noticed a resurging interest in line dancing but realized there was not a venue to provide this form of entertainment. This is when they decided to donate their time as DJ fundraisers. “This gives the dancers a place to dance and helps out people in need,” Susan Dupuis stated. “It’s a win/win situation.”

Recent fundraising and dancing events  have included but are not limited to monies raised for needy children at Christmas time, as well as funds raised for and donated to a two-year old girl in Windham who is fighting leukemia.

Raymond and Susan also enjoy fundraising on a personal level. “The one fundraising event that is closest to my heart is the event we did to help my daughters meet their fundraising goal for Tri for a Cure,” explained Susan Dupuis. “Both of my daughters are breast cancer survivors.”
As for their DJ fundraising efforts, they both acknowledge the help they have received from the community to assist with the success of the events. “We are most thankful for Dena, the owner of Dena’s Restaurant, who has donated the use of her facilities for many of our events. We also would like to thank the Town of Windham for the use of the Town Hall Recreation Room for the events that we have done for the community.”

Flamin’ Raymin’ and Sizzlin Suzzin’ still offer line dancing classes at Windham/Raymond Adult Education as well as in Gray. For more information, contact Susan and Raymond at or 939-4254.

It is their goal to provide a fundraising event once a month, beginning this fall. 

When one gives in ways that helps others, feeling fortunate seems to go with the territory.
“Ray and I feel truly blessed to be able to do something we love to help benefit others” said Dupuis.

Seventh annual Kelli’s 5K to donate funds to RSU14 and local boy battling cancer by Lorraine Glowczak

Kelli's thoughtfulness and kind heart lives on in the event
The seventh annual Kelli’s 5K is just around the corner; all area runners and walkers are invited to participate. There’s only a little over a week to register. Those who wish to get in an early morning jog or leisurely walk and contribute to a great community cause at the same time, can do so on Saturday, August 12 at the Windham High School’s cross country course. Located at 406 Gray Road, the annual Kelli’s 5K will begin at 9 a.m. with two courses to choose from. The first, a challenging and timed 5K run that will include rolling terrain, a series of bridges and a steep path. The second course is a non-timed walkathon around the Windham High School Campus.

Registration for the annual walk/run has already begun and will continue to be accepted up to 30 minutes prior to the race. But hurry! The first 50 paid registrants will receive a Team Kelli T-shirt. Kelli’s 5K, hosted by St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, became an annual running and walking event in 2010, to remember and honor Kelli Hutchison, a member of the church. Kelli passed away at the age of 10 on February 16, 2010, of GBM brain cancer, an aggressive form of cancer that most often occurs in adult men ages 50 to 70. Although the run/walk may have been precipitated by somber beginnings, the true focus of the Kelli’s 5K is to spread light, friendship and the art of giving to others, which represents Kelli’s true life expressions. 

Every year, proceeds from the event are distributed in a number of ways. As always, monies raised are contributed to the anticipated growth of the Kelli Hutchison Memorial Playground, located on the grounds of St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, 40 Windham Center Road. 

To continue and honor Kelli’s desire to help others, portions of the funds raised this year will go toward the Windham/Raymond school district for activity fees as well as to Nolan Cyr, a local boy battling cancer.

A portion of funds raised will go toward Nolan Cyr
“Each year we like to share some of our proceeds from Kelli's 5k,” said Melissa Hutchinson, Kelli’s mother. “This year we thought of Nolan Cyr, a 10 year old boy from Windham who is battling a disease and is someone that our church has been praying for - someone that could probably use a bit of a distraction in his life - maybe have a chance to do something exciting or even something that makes him feel regular - to forget the disease - a family that could use a bit of something special or even something normal.” 

It is also important to the Hutchinson family as well as the Kelli Memorial Playground committee to give a portion of the monies raised to the RSU14 activity fees. “We know there are kids who can’t afford to participate in various school activities but want to,” explained Dan Wheeler, chair of the playground committee. “We want to help those children join in on the activities they would not be able to participant in otherwise.” 

As for the anticipated growth of the playground, there is an expansion that will soon occur. “We hope to freshen up the present playground by installing new equipment this spring,” Wheeler said. “Presently, the playground has no trees so we will be planting six trees strategically around the play area this fall.”

A photoshopped rendering of trees added to the playground
The Memorial Playground was built to not only honor Kelli’s memory, but to be a fun and well used community recreation spot for all children to play. It seems that the purpose and goal of the playground’s existence has been met. “I work every day at the church, and there are always children using it,” stated Wheeler. “It is very well used and that makes us happy.”

For those who have not yet registered for the run/walk and wish to do so, it is not too late. To register, go online at The cost to register is $15 before the event, $20 the day of the event. To make a donation for playground improvement visit Playground donation or for further information,  please contact Dan Wheeler at  

For more information about Nolan Cyr, his journey with cancer as well as other fundraising efforts, please visit the Facebook page,
If you can’t make the event or are unable to make a financial donation, there is one more thing you can do. “I hope everyone keeps Nolan in their prayers,” said Hutchinson. “This was one thing I'd ask of people if they wanted to do something for Kelli or for us; prayers. Anyone can do them, they don't cost anything and they mean so much.”

Friday, July 28, 2017

As Windham Community Garden grows so does the need for new committee members by Lorraine Glowczak

The Windham Community Garden, located on Route 202 next to the Windham Safety Building and public skate park, celebrated its seventh year by hosting a Morning in the Garden on Saturday, July 22 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. With donuts and coffee available, area Windham residents had the opportunity to stop by and take a look at the success of the gardens’ growth and discover ways to become involved as a community gardener as well.
Established in 2010, the Windham Community Garden was the vision of a few forward thinking individuals who thought that a community garden in Windham was needed and would be well received. “The first year, we had four gardeners but by the next year in 2011, we had 37 gardeners,” stated Pricilla Payne, who was one of the core group members to initiate the garden and serves as the secretary of the garden committee. “Now there are over 50 gardeners with 75 beds being used.” order to keep up with the success and growth of the garden, new members are being sought out to help with a variety of tasks. “As always, the garden committee is looking for new members,” Payne said. “There is always lots of maintenance to be done at the garden, especially in the spring when we are getting ready for the opening and in the fall when closing for the winter. If anyone has an interest in becoming involved we would love to talk to them.”

The benefits of having and being involved in a community garden are endless. The Parks and Recreation Department from St. Paul, MN took time and listed the many advantages of a community garden, like the one in Windham. Some benefits from that list include the following:

Increase a sense of community ownership and stewardship.
Foster the development of a community identity and spirit.
Bring people together from a wide variety of backgrounds (age, race, culture, social class).
Community gardening is recognized by the many police departments as an effective community crime prevention strategy.
Provide inter-generational exposure to cultural traditions.
It is a healthy, inexpensive activity for youth that can bring them closer to nature and allow them to interact with each other in a socially meaningful and physically productive way.
Add beauty to the community and heighten people's awareness and appreciation for living things.

And, of course, the ultimate benefit of a community garden is healthy food production, not only for
the individual but for others in society as well.

“In the past seven years, we have donated over 7,000 pounds of food to the food pantry,” Payne said. “And we always encourage all gardeners to give their overproduction to the pantry.” 

The committee works diligently to adhere to its mission to create a garden following organic practices, provide affordable garden plots, support a community of gardeners and to help promote a green and sustainable Windham. In order to do so, they participate in regular meetings, organize and execute fundraising efforts, write grant applications and spend a lot of time in the garden helping others. They also solicit donations on behalf of the garden.

“Our next goal is to place solar panels on the greenhouse so we can grow produce year round,” said Donna Walter, also a garden committee member. 

To obtain a solar panel, members will work on fundraising and grant writing efforts to name a few. “If there is anyone in the community who wishes to donate or make a contribution towards the solar panel and its installation, we will always accept that as well,” Walter continued.

The garden committee stated that the community has been very helpful in contributing to the garden’s   break from the heat while attending to their beds,” said Payne. “Also, Girl Scout Troop #1518 has two beds at the garden and one of those beds is growing carrots for the MSSPA horse rescue farm here in Windham.”
success. “We like to thank the Shelter Man who generously donated a canopy and frame so that we have a nice place for gardeners to take

Other community organizations that the committee has identified as making contributions include Blue Seal Feeds, Inc. and Skillins Greenhouse, which have either donated or discounted a number of items to include seeds and hay. “We also have the Town of Windham to thank for a multitude of things,” stated Marge Govoni, garden committee member. “They supply us with a water source (Fire Department), wood chips, mowing the area around the exterior of the garden and lastly, allowing us to use this land which benefits us all as a community.”

Payne stated that committee member, Rachel Michaud, has gone above and beyond her role as a garden member “for rehabbing and repainting our sign and being our Master Social Media expert.”
The intertwining community effort and support is among the community garden’s greatest strengths. “This garden is a huge asset to the community and to the folks that garden here,” Payne said. “There is so much satisfaction in raising your own organic produce.” Windham Garden Community will start taking reservations for the 2018 season in late fall. The cost for one plot on an annual basis is $30. For more information, visit the garden website at

Reid Stories helps to build a better world at Windham Public Library by Jennifer Davis

Reid Stories - To the Windham Library staff and the families who visit, this is a well-known and very important name. Reid Stories is the chicken that has been visiting the Windham Public Library this summer, back from college. Reid likes to find new hiding spots within the library each day, changing floors each week, where children and families can go on a search to find him.  The reward is a surprise from the magic treasure box.
Reid is not a real chicken, of course, but has been part of the summer activities at the Windham Library for the past ten years. He is welcomed each year during Windham Summerfest, arriving on the Windham Library float during the parade. This lets kids and families know that the search is on for the summer. 

Reid has helped with this summer’s theme Build a Better World, showing up in a construction outfit ready to work. You never know where you may find Reid, but you can be sure his hiding spot will be interesting. “My favorite story about a hiding spot was when he was hidden on top of one of our ceiling fan blades,” Jennifer Alvino, Library Director said.  “Someone forgot the chicken was hidden there and turned the fan on. The chicken learned how to fly that day!”

On average, about 20 kids come to the library to look for the chicken each day. His presence ignites excitement in families and brings them to the library, opening a door to reading.  We wanted the kids to feel comfortable here and the chicken has turned into something the kids really look forward to each summer,” said Alvino.  “I think it's one of those things that the kids will talk about when they are older and remember that the library is a safe, fun and exciting place to visit.” know it is hard to believe, but summer is nearing its end. With the start of a new school year, Reid will be heading back to college. This will be his last week at the library, so if you can get in to see him this weekend, it would be worth the trip. 

While you are at the library, look for information about the library’s upcoming events such as: the summer reading program (there is still time to sign up), annual pet show, eclipse activities, story hour, crafts, book discussions, letterboxing and writing club. Plus you can find passes to several local attractions such as Dundee Park, Maine Wildlife Park, Children’s Museum and Southworth Planetarium. 

Oh yeah, once you find Reid, don’t forget to wish him well on his upcoming school year.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Mushroom Discovery Walk confirms increased interest in mushroom studies by Lorraine Glowczak

Alan Seamans teaches mushroom identification
Approximately 25 amateur mycologists, gathered together at the Black Brook Preserve in Windham on Saturday, July 15 from 10 a.m. to noon to walk and explore the trails and learn about the diversity of mushrooms.

Hosted by the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust (PRLT) and led by Alan Seamans of the Maine   
Mycological Association, participants discovered the array of mushrooms available in the area, learned the importance of mushrooms to forest ecology and learned how to identify the variety of species with a discussion on the edible variety.

It was not long into the walk before the participants discovered that the forest was a host to a beautiful collection of fungi. It truly was a science lab waiting to be discovered and to offer its knowledge to all 25 individuals.

With the help of Seamans, the participants identified a number of colorful fungi with names such as Chanterelle, Brittle Gill, Painted Bolete, Puff Balls, American Caesar and Amanita rubescens, to name a few. Seamans pointed out that the Amanita rubescens is also known as "The Blusher" because it develops ruddy discoloration when handled. identifying may get easier as one becomes more knowledgeable, it is always helpful to
have a book along with you to determine the species name. Many books are available to help one with identification but it is difficult to find one book that has all the varieties. “There are thousands upon thousands of mushroom species,” Seamans said. “No book has a list of all them.” In fact, Seamans stated that there are still many mushroom varieties that have yet to be identified.

Seamans also shared how important mushrooms are to the forest’s health. He stated that mushrooms play a variety of roles including that of decayers that remove rotting wood and provide nutrients to the forest floor. Mushrooms also play the role of a parasite which eliminates diseased and weakened trees. Mushrooms also live in a symbiotic relationship with the forest. “The tree and the mushroom work together in conjunction with each other, living together in close proximity so both receive benefits,” Seamans explained in detail about symbiosis. “One cannot survive without the other.”

Also, one cannot hike a mushroom discovery walk without including discussion of the edible
mushrooms available. “Any mushroom is edible,” Seamans began the conversation but then warned with humor; “At least once.”

There are mushrooms that are safe and healthy to eat if you are able to identify them correctly, but Seamans’ rule of thumb regarding the forage of mushrooms to eat is, “Is it worth it?” Is it worth the time, effort and taste? Chanterelles are one of the most safe and edible variety in the area but he advises to stay away from any fungi from the Amanitas family because almost any mushroom from this group can be deadly.

“However, for those safe mushrooms – they are much like milk and nuts, some people may have a sensitivity to edible mushrooms,” Seamans advised. “Always keep a mushroom aside in case of an emergency, so it can be identified.”

One participant in the discovery walk forages for mushrooms to eat with his meals. Stephen Signor, who is self-taught and has studied mycology for the past five years, incorporates wild mushrooms in many of his recipes. He tests his mushrooms using spore prints and samples to determine if it is safe to eat. “I incorporate wild mushrooms in my soups, stews, steak sandwiches or use it as a basic side dish,” Signor said. “I even make mushroom omelets.”

The two hour mushroom tour was over quickly and Seamans was thanked profusely by the participants for sharing his knowledge.
“Alan was a fantastic event leader as he was extremely knowledgeable about mushrooms on every level - from identifying groups and individual species to discussing the broad importance of fungi in the forest ecosystem,” stated Toby Jacobs, Stewardship and Outreach Coordinator for the PRLT. “He was great at relating all of that knowledge to a beginner audience in an accessible way. The 20 plus participants who came to the event showed great interest in both Alan's talk and the Preserve itself, and it was encouraging to see a lot of people out who had never visited the Black Brook Preserve before. We hope to have another walk like this in the future.”

For those who want to delve further into the world of mushroom education and/or foraging, Seamans suggested the book, “Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms of New England and Eastern Canada: A Photographic Guidebook to Finding and Using Key Species” by David Spahr.

For those who wish to learn more about Black Brook Preserve or to volunteer and become a member with the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust, visit their website at