When tasked with trying to increase outside space at Belfast Co-op and create something unique for the community, Community Engagement Coordinator Jamie Cermak had an idea:

A courtyard with several planter benches, where people could sit, read, smell the flowers, soak up the sun, spend time with friends and enjoy special events.

Co-op Marketing Manager Carisa Carney wondered, "How can we make this happen?"

In stepped Hammond Lumber, which donated all the building materials, including kits to build seven planter benches.

Hammond's Belfast branch Manager Jim Pooler was at the soft opening of the community courtyard July 11 and said, "It was our pleasure," and that the space is "wonderful."

Also helping out with the project were Coast of Maine with a donation of bags of organic soil, and Villageside Farm in Freedom, which donated flowers.

"The more that people got involved," Cermak said,"the more people started to follow suit."

The community effort was aided by volunteers like Allan Kaplan, who cut out all the pieces for the bench planters. "We had the pattern and screwed everything together according to the model," Cermak said.

The effort is still a work in progress, he said, with a fence planned to separate the courtyard from the parking area, painting and more aesthetic improvements. The Co-op will store the benches elsewhere during the winter months.

One community member at the courtyard opening donated her son's "little chicken" woodcut for use as a bench decoration. 

Carney said the Co-op is pleased and excited about the support it has received from volunteers and community partners to make something special for the community.

From the Co-op's Facebook page, "Big thanks to Hammond Lumber, Coast of Maine, Villageside Farm and our team of volunteers! Stay tuned for more exciting developments!"