Author and humorist Tim Caverly speaks during a Readfield U event Thursday in Gile Hall, Readfield’s Town Office. The author event was sponsored by Readfield Community Library as part of Readfield U, which runs through March. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

READFIELD — Ever wonder how to grow lavender? How to practice tai chi? Or about the beans grown by Readfield farmers in 1780? 

Through March, residents of Readfield and neighboring communities will get the chance to build a new skill or gain knowledge through Readfield U — a free pop-up university-style event put on by the town’s Age-Friendly Committee. 

The committee, initially funded with a $6,000 grant from AARP, has been charged with creating resources and services to meet the needs of older residents. Readfield U showcases the knowledge Readfield residents can share. 

“One of the reasons (the committee) was inspired was that through the group, we focus on the needs of older people and forget they are such a rich source of knowledge and skills,” Maggie Edmondson, co-chairwoman of the Age-Friendly Committee, said. “We have all been astounded and delighted in learning about each other and from each other.” 

Community members and local businesses offer classes, workshops, or informal meetups and it’s all free of charge through the month of March, Edmondson said.

The idea came from a fellow age-friendly group in Bethel, Vermont, which has run Bethel U for about 10 years.


In choosing the courses, the committee wanted to have a wide variety of topics to reach people of all ages. Courses include topics that are specific to Readfield, niche skills taught by community members, and pop-up author events at the Readfield Community Library.

“Everyone is getting tired of winter and wants something to do close to home,” Edmondson said.

With Kents Hill School’s 200th anniversary this year, the committee invited Headmaster Chris Cheney to speak on the school’s history at 10 a.m., Wednesday, March 20 at the Bibby and Harold Alfond Dining Commons at the school’s campus in the northwest corner of Readfield.

The committee also chose artistic or athletic courses — including chair yoga and tai chi — to introduce people to something they might not have chosen to do otherwise.

Theresa Kerchner the executive director of Kennebec Land Trust, plans to give a presentation on Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Across Generations.

The Kennebec Land Trust owns 764 acres and four easements with 129 acres in Readfield, or around 4.8% of the town’s land. Kennebec Land Trust has worked with the town officials for decades to help the town reach its conservation and open-space plan goals.


“This is an opportunity for the land trust to have a broader reach in the community,” Kerchner said. “People might not know that our land is open to hunting, we pay taxes on our land, we harvest timber. Some people might only know us through our programs where we offer bird walks, but our work is more comprehensive and it provides me the opportunity to talk about conservation, not only in my work, but the state of Maine.”

That event is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., March 18 at Gile Hall, Readfield’s Town Office.

Edmondson said she does not have one class in particular she is looking forward to, but said that last year she attended a course on Readfield’s geology, which she knew nothing about.

“Every bit (of Readfield U) is exciting to me,” she said.

Readfield U, which runs until March 30, wraps up with Readfield in the Good Old Days, scheduled for at 2 p.m. at Gile Hall.

Readfield U’s website has the full list of courses where people can sign up.

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