Beedy Parker honored in Camden's 2018 Annual Report

By Alison McKellar | Jul 06, 2018
Photo by: Lynette Walther The 2018 Annual Report for the town of Camden is dedicated to longtime resident and advocate for the environment, Elizabeth "Beedy" Parker.

CAMDEN — This year, Camden's Annual Report is dedicated to the town's best known naturalist and social and environmental activist, Elizabeth "Beedy" Parker.

Since moving to Camden in 1975, Beedy has been a tireless advocate for the environment in all that she does, quietly transforming her historic village home into a natural sanctuary and a hub of civic engagement. Even the home itself, and the small parcel of land surrounding it, have lessons to teach, reflecting a lifetime of conscious choices aimed at reducing waste, preserving history, and nurturing the plant and animal life that surrounds us.

A lifelong gardener and one of the founders of the Knox County chapter of Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), it's not surprising that Beedy is well-known for her impressive gardens and history of feeding her family almost entirely off of food they had grown themselves. This perhaps wouldn't be so noteworthy nor beneficial to the community had she, and her late husband Richard, chosen a homestead out in the country away from the hustle and bustle of suburbia. Instead, they settled in the heart of Camden's village on a small parcel of under a quarter-acre and there created a model of self-sustainability and balance with the natural environment; a peaceful and tangible counter-narrative to the conspicuous and and unnecessary consumption of modern times.

Those who know Beedy know that she has never cared about who got credit for good work, and it's a good thing because it would be impossible to document all that she represents and contributes to our town.

Her long legacy of environmental stewardship and advocacy is well-known to most Camden residents, but not everyone knows that seeds of her special "Beedy's Camden Kale" are available through Fedco, or that she helped save the post office from demolition. A longtime member of the Historic Resources Committee, and a lifelong historic preservation advocate, she was instrumental in spearheading a committee that reversed a decision by the U.S. Postal Service to move the office out of town and potentially demolish the historic building where the Camden Post Office remains today.

But perhaps her most important and enduring legacy here in the Midcoast will be the book she hand-wrote and illustrated, titled, "A Natural History of Camden and Rockport." Published in 1984 by the Camden-Rockport Historical Society, the book is a true work of art and history that can be appreciated by all ages, masterfully documented by a person who notices the details of the natural environment in a way that few of us, even lifelong residents, have ever paused to ponder.

In 1987, Parker and Jeanne Hollingsworth received the Natural Resources Council of Maine's Conservation Award for their work on pesticides, establishing the MOGFA No-Spray Registry to protect landowners from spray drift. Beedy's work in this area has continued in town over many years, most recently as part of Citizens for a Green Camden, where she and others have made great strides raising awareness and reducing the use of lawn chemicals on private and public properties throughout town.

Ever the model of sustainability and self reliance, she established community garden sites, taught and promoted composting throughout the Midcoast, and was a founding member of the town's first recycling and waste-reduction committee.

She has worked with many others to advocate for planting and preservation of shade trees along Camden's streets after many were lost to Dutch Elm Disease in the mid-70s. The trees lining the street at the old Apollo tannery site (now Tannery Park), are one such example of her impact, still flourishing today thanks to her advocacy and that of other members of the garden club's tree committee. In 1996, Camden's Arbor Day celebration honored her for cobbling together a network of backyard nurseries that raised several hundred elm trees for planting throughout Knox, Waldo and Lincoln counties.

Carolyn Marsh's article covering the Arbor Day event for The Camden Herald at the time called Parker "a tireless advocate for one of the town's largest silent majorities - trees."

Twenty years later, the description is still accurate, but of course, tells only part of the story. Beedy continues to be tireless in her advocacy for the voiceless; whether speaking on behalf of the trees at the Mountain View Cemetery or political prisoners on the other side of the planet, her soft-spoken and peaceful approach have earned the respect and admiration of the entire community. We are grateful to Beedy Parker for her many years of gracious and generous service to the plant, animal and human residents of the town of Camden.

The dedication of the 2018 Annual Report of the town of Camden was written by Select Board member Alison McKellar.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Jul 06, 2018 09:36

She should replace Scott Pruitt!!!

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