250 Year Old Coastal Farm in York Protected With Community Support, Amidst a Rising Tide of Development
The Blaisdell Brothers Family Farm on the shore of the York River has been a…
On July 16, MFT worked with the Tremblay family to protect their farm in Embden by placing an agricultural conservation easement on the property, ensuring that the 79 acres will never be developed for non-agricultural use. Protecting the land with an easement also helped make the farm more accessible for the next generation of farm owners, and on August 21 a young couple purchased the farm with plans to continue the legacy of the former farm family.
The property, known locally as the Dickey Farm, has been in the Tremblay family for the past 120 years. After the Tremblays purchased the farm in 1900, it was worked as a diversified farm with a small herd of milking cows, supporting a family of nine through the 1940s. The property was then operated as a dairy through the late 1950s, growing hay for feed, field and sweet corn. In addition, the family always had large vegetable gardens, a productive strawberry patch and a small apple orchard. Three of the seven Tremblay children lived out their years at the farm, until the last and youngest, Edna, passed in 2019 at the age of 97. Edna’s relatives recently put the farm up for sale, in hopes that “a young family could repeat a similar life in this special place in rural Maine.” The Tremblays wanted to ensure that the property would remain farmland, but also wanted to find the right people to take it over.
Emily Eckhardt and Dillon Robinson had been searching for land for some time before coming across this property on Maine FarmLink, MFT’s online matchmaking program designed to help farmland seekers find available farmland. “We had sort of given up when I called Glenn Tremblay [one of Edna’s sons] about this place. We had given up on finding the ‘forever farm,’” said Emily. This all changed with their first visit to the farm in Embden. When they arrived, “we both felt like it was a place where we could picture ourselves living.” Likewise, Glenn said that finding the couple felt like “a match made in heaven!” Emily and Dillon plan to operate a micro-dairy on the property. Emily, who is chief of staff at Maine Grains, hopes to operate a small creamery to make ice cream sandwiches using cream from her herd and cookies made with Maine Grains flour. The couple hopes to eventually grow vegetables and raise chickens and pigs, but they want to take their time to get settled into their new property. Dillon also works full-time as a timber framer, and he and Emily have a 2-month old baby, Woody.
On selling the farm to the next generation, Glenn’s wife, Joan, reflected that, “it was time to hand over the pitchfork. Time for a new family to create their own history here.” At the closing on August 21, Glenn and Joan gave Emily and Dillon a Tremblay family pitchfork to symbolize passing some tradition from one farm family to the next.
Using conservation easements to protect farms can help facilitate the transfer of farmland to the next generation and help ensure that Maine continues to have the working farms it needs to feed Mainers for future generations. MFT works with farmers, farmland owners, and partners throughout the state to protect farms, empower farmers, and connect farmers to land so they can help feed local communities and steward our natural resources.
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