“There is a lot to celebrate about farming in Maine, including the fact that more and more farmland owners see the value of permanently protecting their land and their legacy.” —John Piotti, Maine Farmland Trust
At the current rate of turnover, all farmland here in Southern Maine could be developed within 30 years. To stem this tide, many land trusts have expanded their missions to include agricultural easements. With a specific focus on preserving farmland, Maine Farmland Trust helps to keep agricultural lands working, and strives to ensure farmland is affordable for the next generation.
Across the state, over a hundred Maine farms have been permanently protected with agricultural easements. To celebrate the growing success of these combined efforts of local land trusts, Forever Farms, a MFT program, held an open house at Ramblers Way Farm in Kennebunk.
We’d frequently pass this place during weekly CSA pick-ups at a neighboring farm, and had always wondered what was up the hill dotted with sheep. Owned by the founders of Tom’s of Maine, Tom and Kate Chappell graciously hosted an open house on what turned out to be a quintessential late summer’s eve. There was a picnic of local food, live music, a little speechifying, visiting with friends and neighbors, and we were free to wander the grounds.
Of course, a tour of Ramblers Way Farm isn’t complete without a visit to the barn, home to a herd of American Rambouillet sheep. This breed is known for the superfine quality of their merino-type fleece, and their soft, cuddly wool goes into the Ramblers Way line of comfortwear.
Ramblers Way is actually two farms, the second added for a total of 154 acres of open fields, 100 of which are now permanently protected. With its rolling landscape, the land seems particularly suited to its current use as pastures for grazing and haying.
If you find yourself in the Midcoast Maine area, Maine Farmland Trust is throwing another fine all-day shindig, the MaineFare, a celebration of Maine food and farming, at their home base in Belfast on Friday, September 7th. And if you happen to pass any farms displaying the “Forever Farms” sign along the way, you can be assured that it means what it says, and will be there for future generations.