In 1949, Edith Drury traveled up and down the Maine coast visiting 40 schools with a small notebook in hand. As part of her job as a staff member of the Maine Seacoast Mission, Edith was tasked with teaching children about creating gardens and growing vegetables. In her notebook, she kept track of the seeds she distributed, from radishes to nasturtiums. Each school had its own page on which she wrote each child’s name, age, and the kind of seeds they received. Later, she made another note in the margins of each page about how well the plants grew. While most have check marks, she also comments on bad soil, and a dog that dug up a family’s garden.
74 years later, Maxine Porter of Cutler still remembers “Miss Drury” visiting her school to teach children how to garden. In 1949, Maxine was nine years old, and according to Edith’s notebook, she received carrots, cucumbers, and snow peas. Her future husband, Verlan’s name is written down a few pages earlier. He received squash, carrots, and cucumbers. Maxine remembers Edith teaching the students how to prepare the soil, plant the seeds, and take care of what they planted. Even with instruction, Maxine notes that her flowers did not really flourish. But Edith’s visits were a favorite of the students. They were excited to see the Sunbeam coming into the harbor. Maxine says Edith “always had a story to tell us or a joke.”
Gary DeLong, the Mission’s former President, who grew up Downeast, fondly remembers Edith’s visits, “In her role at the Mission she came to the school on Beals—where I grew up—talking about the importance of fresh vegetables. She handed out seeds and advice about starting a garden all of which made a big impression on kids.” When Edith passed away in 1987, a resolution honoring her mentioned her visits to more than 70 schools. While there she “distributed garden seeds and plants in the schools and encouraged the children to plant gardens.”