In this 2003 photo, Roger Doiron waters his kitchen garden at his home in Scarborough. The community garden nonprofit he founded that year is now 20 years old. Doug Jones/Staff photographer

Scarborough resident Roger Doiron’s 20-year-effort to get more people to grow their own food began with direct assistance to gardeners. Now it is more about fundraising. But the goal remains the same.

Doiron founded Kitchen Gardens International in 2003 to encourage more people to grow vegetables. His most famous client was Michelle Obama, who created a kitchen garden with his help on the White House grounds shortly after Barack Obama was inaugurated as president – getting publicity that helped spur Doiron’s efforts.

For a while, in addition to helping people create kitchen gardens, the organization veered into lobbying and influencing, trying to eliminate restrictions that many home owners associations have against growing food in front yards.

In 2012, Kitchen Garden International began giving out small grants to support the creation of community gardens around the world. By 2015, the focus of the group had changed so much that the board changed its name to SeedMoney.

“After the success of the White House garden campaign, we put out a survey of our member list asking what do you think we have to do, and it turned out funding was the major issue,” Doiron said in a telephone interview.

To mark the 20th anniversary of the organization’s birth, SeedMoney is running a 20-day campaign ending June 30, to raise money to provide grants of between $100 to $1,000 for community gardens around the world. Doiron said he expects about 600 gardens to participate. Find information about the program at


SeedMoney’s numbers are impressive. Since the organization changed its focus. it has helped support 2,570 projects in 66 countries and all 50 states in this country. The grants issued total $2.3 million, for an average of $900 per project.

A solar powered water pump at the Alan Day Community Garden in Norway in 2015. Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

In Maine, SeedMoney has helped the Alan Day Community Garden in Norway, among others. The garden started about 14 years ago as a typical community garden, with piece of property divided into individual plots where people could grow some of their own food.

“We still do the baseline stuff of the garden plots and seedling sales, but we thought the community needed more,” said Rocky Crockett, executive director of the garden. 

Norway is in Oxford County, one of Maine’s poorest counties and with a poor health rating, too, Crockett said. Part of the problem is that people did not know how to prepare the food they grew. To help change that, the group constructed a commercial-grade community kitchen.

“Having that kitchen within walking distance is a game changer for us,” he said. “It’s a heated indoor space where people can be learning year-round.”

The organization holds pizza nights every Friday, where people pay what they can for a meal. Some people get free pizza, while others who are more fortunate, including those who own cottages on the lake in town, pay more.


Alan Day Community Garden has three full-time employees and come summer, four seasonal workers, usually high-school students. Crockett said the support from SeedMoney helps because when the garden fundraises, the fact that SeedMoney will match donations encourages people to give more.

Holly Culloton, a Master Gardener volunteer for a Biddeford community garden, appreciated the assistance SeedMoney gave to a drive that raised $2,850 for a children’s garden expansion.

“The ease with which we were able to promote our campaign made it trouble-free,” she said. “We appreciate the prompts that we received throughout the process.”

While Doiron’s profession of raising money to help people create gardens around the world is going well, the same can’t be said for his own Scarborough garden. With their youngest son soon to leave for college, Doiron and his wife reduced its size from 1,500 to 600 square feet. And when I spoke with him in May to arrange an interview, he was worried that the unusually cold morning had hurt his plants.

Tom Atwell is a freelance writer gardening in Cape Elizabeth. He can be contacted at:

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