Biddeford-Saco Rotary Club: Thinking outside the box
and serving their communities

SACO — The Biddeford-Saco Rotary Club has never let
the pandemic slow them down. If anything, it helped
solidify their motto — Service Above Self, according to an
organization press release.
A year ago, they were re-allocating funds and organizing a new COVID crisis sub-committee
that still today helps provide food and funding for community members with food
insecurities and other needs. Led by Conrad Welzel, he believes this committee will be
around for the foreseeable future. “If we learned anything from helping our follow citizens
during this crisis, is that when something causes a state to shut down, the needs are even
greater for the most vulnerable,” said Welzel. “This committee has learned a lot over this past
year, and we’re much better prepared to assist in the face of any other crisis.”
The old phrase, give a man a fish, resonated with the group. And so, members developed the
Family Garden Project 2021. The Biddeford-Saco Rotary Club, Apex Youth Connection and
Biddeford Community Gardens partnered to award a select 10 families with the necessary
materials; lumber, soil, nutrients, and seeds and starts, for a three by four foot or three by
eight foot raised garden bed to be placed at their home. The Rotarian’s goal is to help families
acquire the materials and tools they need to grow and prepare healthy food for less money.
To be eligible, families must reside in either Biddeford, Saco, Dayton, or Old Orchard Beach.
They will require an approximate 10 by 10 foot area available with lots of sunlight and have
access to an outside water source.
“For many of these families, they will need to gain permission from their landowner before
we can set up their raised garden,” said Ken Farley, the Rotarian heading up this project.
“They must also be willing to learn. Information, help, and materials are provided, but they
will be the gardeners.”
Participants can select from a list of vegetable like celery, cucumber, lettuce, onion, peppers,
radish, swiss chard, tomatoes, zucchini, broccoli, and spinach. Also, they can select he size of
the raised garden bed. As part of the program, Rotarians will be checking in on the gardens
from time to time and will offer recipes for the vegetables they are growing.
Melissa Cilley, executive director of Apex Youth Connection in Biddeford, said “Like Rotary,
Apex also has a focus on service and our youth and were already planning a garden project.
This collaboration, however, has taken the project to an entirely new level. Our youth can
serve side-by-side with Rotarian mentors … we are very excited to be part of this project.” For
more information on this project, email Ken.

In a year of challenges for the club, Rotarian Roland Gagne launched a new project that could
help raise money to support community projects and provide a traditional Maine treat.
Together with Rotarian, Dr. Brian Dallaire, they coordinated a new event, the Biddeford-Saco
Rotary Club’s Annual Maine Maple Syrup Fundraiser. “With the pandemic, our club had to
come up with other ways to raise funds. Our in-person sponsored events were not possible so
we created an event with limited human interaction,” said Gagne. “The proceeds from this
fundraiser will allow us to continue supporting the many needs and causes within the
Biddeford, Saco and Old Orchard Beach communities.”

Maine maple syrup can be purchased on the club’s website: The fundraiser runs through the month of March
ending on Maine Maple Syrup weekend (March 27-28). The items purchased online will be
filled with Maine Maple Syrup freshly harvested this season by Dole Pond Maple Products
(organic certified), established in 1990. They are a family run bulk maple syrup producer
located in deep in the woods of Jackman. They maintain 37,000 taps on 600 acres of land
producing around 13,000 gallons of syrup each year. The items through the fundraiser will be
available for pick-up/delivery on Saturday, June 5. Anyone purchasing items will be notified
with location information or with shipping instructions.

For more information on the Biddeford-Saco Rotary Club and their COVID-19 subcommittee,
contact them at: or on Facebook: Rotary Club of
Courier Community
© 2021