ICS Horticulture Program


Islesboro, Maine - Recently recognized by the Portland Press Herald and Mary Quinn’s new book “Unique Maine Farms;” the Islesboro Central School Horticulture program is a statewide leader in agricultural education - providing a unique curricular experience on the school’s diversified organic farm. A CTE-based satellite program of Midcoast School of Technology in Rockland, the program has a 20+ year history of exceptional food and agricultural education.

First year students work towards their Master Gardener Certification (offered through the UMaine Cooperative Extension) through an series of plant, crop, and soil science modules. These students run our greenhouses, prune our apple trees, preserve food, tap maple trees, run our school farm stand, and so much more. Upperclassmen who return to the program find themselves at the forefront of our school’s wide-reaching sustainability effort, spearheading self-designed projects that expand our communities capacity to live sustainably; building aquaponics systems, writing grants, developing farm infrastructure, and educating the community.

The balsam fir industry, prevalent in Maine during the winter months, has arrived at Islesboro Central School. In a Charlie Brown-esque commercial state, horticulture students work together to bring some winter cheer to the cold months. Going to be used to decorate student’s homes as well as the school, the handmade wreaths add a splash of festivity to everyday life. “I think it's good anytime you have students learning a skill that could get them work in the future- doing something fun, something good,” says Ryan Martin, horticulture teacher and mentor to many at Islesboro Central School. While making wreaths might not be a life-altering decision, it provides beneficial teamwork skills and provides good cheer to many. Gather around a fire and sing holiday tunes, that time of year is here again! - Acadia Calderwood

"Every year, consumers in industrialized countries waste almost as much food as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa. That’s 222 million tons, nearly 40% of all food grown in the United States. If first-world countries waste as much food as poorer countries can produce, all the food wasted could theoretically feed an entire country. Now, that’s a nearly impossible task to take on, but a much more manageable way to reduce food waste that anyone can contribute to is composting. Composting is nature’s way of recycling, and it has recently arrived at Islesboro Central School. Horticulture student Juan Beltejar has taken it upon himself to introduce a composting program at Islesboro, collecting lunchroom scraps daily and bringing them to his hand-crafted compost bin in the orchard. He hopes to soon introduce worms to the system, in turn using them to feed the fish that are being used in the aquaponics system. If people do their part, food waste could be drastically reduced in the United States, and all you have to do is follow Juan’s example and set up your own composting system." - Acadia Calderwood