On June 30, 2017, MFT purchased a conservation easement on a 427-acre farm on North Pownal Road in New Gloucester. Forrest Waterhouse, was born in the historic farmhouse on the property in 1920 and passed away 96 years later in the same home. His wife Ruth maintained the iconic fences along the road. By selling an easement, the current generation fulfilled the older generation’s desire for the property to always remain as a farm.
The easement area includes 99 acres of open land, and 190 acres of farmland soils. In addition to the farmhouse, the property includes two large barns and a number of storage buildings.
The Waterhouse Farm was operated for many years as a dairy and transitioned to a beef cattle operation in the 1970s. Much of the beef is currently sold wholesale to the Boston area, and they intend to transition to selling more to local markets in the near future. The farm manager, Larry Peaco, who has been working on the property for over three decades, has a strong forestry background and manages the 328 acres of woods.
The property provides scenic views from North Pownal Road, which bisects the farm. Because of this and its location in a rapidly developing area, the agricultural easement includes an Option to Purchase at Agricultural Value (OPAV), which is an extra measure intended to ensure the farm remains in the ownership of an active farmer. Funding for the easement came from MFT and local land trust partner Royal River Conservation Trust, who will hold the easement on this farm. “The Waterhouse Farm is an iconic piece of Maine scenery, and lies between two of the Royal River Conservation Trust’s primary focus areas for land conservation — Pisgah Hill in New Gloucester, and Runaround Pond in Durham,” said Alan Stearns, executive director of RRCT. “We’re working hard to save, and to connect, some of these large unfragmented landscape blocks, to keep woodlots and farms productive while also retaining habitat connections. It’s encouraging to see the Waterhouse Farm thriving, with significant new investments that will help modernize the operations.”