By Lindsay Mower – Staff Reporter

Rustic Roots Farm on Route 2 in Farmington recently held a double elimination cornhole tournament with all proceeds going to growing fresh, local produce for seniors in the Farmington and Jay areas.

The event took place under a blue sky in the courtyard of Uno Mas with 12 teams competing to win the grand prize of a set of homemade cornhole boards and a gift card to Uno Mas, donated by the Mexican inspired restaurant on Front Street. The afternoon featured live music from Lauren Crosby, a recent UMF graduate from Georgetown, Maine, who played an acoustic, folksy set on the small outside stage.

Erica Emery and David Allen, partners of Rustic Roots Farm, reported that they raised close to $350, which will fund three senior farm shares for next season.

“Our goal is to expand the senior farm share program into other areas of Franklin County and include more farms who can provide produce to seniors in their area,” said Emery. “We need more senior farm shares in our area because many seniors do not have access to fresh and healthy produce on a regular basis. By pairing seniors to farms who are growing local produce in season, it is increasing access to healthy food.”

Brian Wardwell, Philosophy and Religion major who works for Rustic Roots Farm and helped put the event together, says that events like this help strike a certain festive vibe in the atmosphere of the Farmington area, which he believes can only lead to good.

“I feel that little actions like this can help to restore some faith in humanity for those they may otherwise not have it. As they say, piece of mind is priceless,” said Wardwell. “The hope is that this particular effort will help seniors by providing them with fresh, wholesome vegetables… something that’s not necessarily affordable or in abundance.”

Father Paul Dumais, the priest at St. Joseph’s and St. Rose, was generous in supporting this effort on behalf of both churches and says he’s happy to have done it. “I am grateful to Erica and the staff at Rustic Roots for the partnership that provides fresh produce for seniors in the community,” said Dumais. “I remember how important their garden was to my grandparents and know it was a loss when they were not able to continue planting and harvesting. My hope is that seniors shares would continue and grow, which provides good food and a good connection to the community.”

According to Emery, the positive reaction had by the surrounding towns in supporting these efforts has led this to become an annual event. Wardwell says he is looking forward to the proliferation of a program that has the potential to help seniors and farms alike. “Although the team turnout was a bit on the low side, we were more than happy with the success of the event. It came together pretty seamlessly, and vibes were good through and through, which is really all we can ask for,” said Wardwell.

Wardwell says that people can continue to help and support causes like this by simply showing up for these kinds of events and gatherings, as well supporting the efforts of local farmers whenever possible. He jokes that it’s always good to get to know your farmer. “The grocery shelves are a certain bet, but have out for a little adventure! More than likely you’ll expand your food possibilities, or even make some new friends in the process.”