SACO, Maine — In 1810, Rufus Fogg established a dairy farm on land bordering the Saco River. The farm operated continuously as a dairy until the late 1960s, and to this day remains in the hands of the same family and continues to yield an important agricultural product-hay.
The current owner, Roland Fogg, grew up helping his father and uncles milk cows and harvest crops, but Roland went on to become an optometrist. Still, his passion for farming remained strong. He often worked the land on nights and weekends-producing a bountiful hay crop on 80 acres of beautiful fields.
Now in his eighties, Roland no longer farms. Someone else cuts the hay. But Roland and his family have taken steps to ensure that the land-a total of 300 acres in both Saco and Buxton-will forever remain as farmland.
Maine Farmland Trust will hold an agricultural easement on Fogg’s property.
“An agricultural easement is a great tool for anyone who wants to ensure his land is never developed, and forever available for farming,” explained John Piotti, executive director of Maine Farmland Trust.
An agricultural easement will prevent a piece of good farmland from being divided into house lots or otherwise developed for non-farm use, but provides the flexibility needed for farming. Since it creation in 1999, Maine Farmland Trust has helped place easements on over 20,000 acres of Maine farmland. The trust often works in partnership with local or regional land trusts, although not in this case.
“The Fogg family are yet another example of a very generous and forward-looking Maine family who care deeply about the future of farming in Maine,” said Piotti.
According to Piotti, protecting farmland with easements is critical to the long-term success of farming in Maine. He says that the biggest barrier to farming’s expansion is the high costs of land for young famers wishing to enter the business or existing farmers wishing to expand; but when protected land ultimately sells, it will do so at a more affordable price, diminishing that barrier.
“More and more people are beginning to see that farming in Maine is growing and poised to grow more, ” said Piotti. “But to realize agriculture’s full promise, it’s critical that we protect more farmland,” he added.