singing to garlic: MAINE’S FARMER MUSICIANS BY CARRIE BRAMAN PHOTOGRAPHS BY MOLLY HALEY
Last week I wrote about how Tom Chappell, best known as the founder of Tom’s of Maine, has agreed to protective agricultural easements over two Kennebunk farm properties with the Maine Farmland Trust.
On top of conserving the 154 total acres for permanent use as farmland, he agreed to nominally spearhead the trust’s campaign to so protect 100,000 acres by the end of 2014.
Today, the group announced its progress toward that goal, with Executive Director John Piotti saying at the Agricultural Trade Show at the Augusta Civic Center the trust has covered 30,000 acres.
Here’s a few paragraphs about Piotti’s announcement, described in a news release issued by the Maine Farmland Trust:
Piotti was joined at the podium by Walt Whitcomb, Maine’s Commissioner of Agriculture, and by two farmers, Walter Fletcher of Pittsfield and Adrienne Lee of Knox.Also speaking was Taylor Mudge, a former farmer and founder of the State of Maine Cheese Company. Mudge is leading the fundraising component of the Trust’s campaign to “Secure a Future for Farming.”Fletcher, a dairy farmer, talked about how Maine Farmland Trust was there to support his farm at a critical time. An abutting farm of about 200 acres had come on the market, and Fletcher wanted to buy about half of that land, because he needed more land for his own operation. But he couldn’t afford to pay top dollar or buy it all.That’s where Maine Farmland Trust came in. It purchased the entire farm, selling half the land to Fletcher and the other half to a new farmer who only needed that much. The Trust protected both parcels with agricultural easements before re-selling them, ensuring that they will always be available for farming use.“That’s the kind of thing we can do,” said Piotti. “In this case, we permanently protected a good piece of farmland that could have easily been lost to farming, while supporting a existing dairy farm and helping get a new farm started,” he explained.Fletcher was so impressed with Maine Farmland Trust that he later joined the board of directors.
More context on the campaign can be found in my previous story, including the factors making the market difficult for farmers.