As I walked down the dirt drive, jaunty notes of live bluegrass wafted over on the gentle breeze. The scents of fresh hay, fields of flowers and barnyard intermingled with sizzling chicken bbq. Laughter, lively conversation and intermittent applause rounded out the sensory explosion. I had arrived at Broadturn Farm in Scarborough – one of over 40 farms now protected for generations as a Forever Farm – and more are joining every day.
Maine Farmland Trust (MFT), a statewide non-profit organization, was created in 1999 as a way to preserve Maine's farmland and Maine's farmers. Forever Farms celebrates the growing success of farmland protection efforts in Maine. All over Maine, signs that read “Forever Farm” will be cropping up on farms that have been preserved through agricultural easements, ensuring that the land will forever be available for farming. Agricultural easements are one of the ways that MFT, partnering with local land trusts, helps to preserve these traditional properties in a voluntary, legal agreement between the landowner and the land trust.
Broadturn Farm, operated by John Bliss and Stacey Brenner, lies on over 400 acres in Scarborough, Maine. They raise organic vegetables, flowers, pick your own strawberries, a small amount of poultry, and turkey, as well as natural lamb and pork. They also are a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm, offering shares for weekly vegetables – OR – flowers! And judging by the fields of beautiful flowers I strolled through last night, I think I'm signing up next year. Stella, the Great Pyrenees dog, was a wonderful host and escort.
We at GrowSmart Maine understand what a traditional family farm brings to the community. Local foods, small businesses, jobs as well as preservation of land and tradition enrich the area like nothing else can. We work hard in conjunction with organizations like Maine Farmland Trust to preserve these unique and vital areas of Maine.
If you are a farmer looking to preserve your farm for generations, contact Maine Farmland Trust to see how they can help.
MFT is hosting one more evening of Forever Farm celebration this year. The Katherine Breton Memorial Preserve in Lisbon will be open to the public on Sep 13, 2011 from 5-8pm. I highly suggest you attend and explore all the wonders a Maine farm has to offer.
(In the interest of full disclosure, John Piotti, Executive Director of MFT and Frank Miles, Board Member of MFT, serve on the GrowSmart Maine Board of Directors.)