Maine Farmland Trust recently met with the Rockport Planning Board as a first step in a process designed to reconfigure a 125-acre tract of land that spans Rockport and Camden. The Trust purchased the property from the Spear family in 2011, with the goal of revitalizing farming on it.
The Trust has since identified a farmer who will purchase 24 acres of the property. The land will be permanently protected with an agricultural easement before it is sold, ensuring that the property will always be available for farming.
This is the same approach Maine Farmland Trust followed with Rokes Farm in Camden, which abuts this land. The Trust bought Rokes Farm, protected it with an easement, and then resold to a young farm couple at its new value as protected land.
The only difference with the Trust’s approach to the Spear property is that it will be selling the Spear land in two or three parcels. According to Adam Bishop, Maine Farmland Trust’s project manager, that makes sense given the size of the property and how it is configured.
“Few farmers can afford to buy 125 acres in the Camden/Rockport area, even if protected with an easement,” says Bishop.
Because the Spear property was part of a larger subdivision the family had previously created, any further reconfiguration by the Trust requires new subdivision approval in both Rockport and Camden. But, says Bishop, the term “subdivision” as it is usually understood does not describe what’s happening here, since all parcels will be protected with permanent deed restrictions.
According to Bishop, those restrictions allow farming and woodland management, as well as agricultural structures and a single house on each parcel. “You can’t have working farms without farmers, and they need a place to live,” says Bishop. The restrictions will also prevent any future division of the parcels.