On March 5, farmer Jeff Storey closed on the purchase of 26 acres of Spring Brook Farm on Greely Road in Cumberland. Storey was able to purchase the land back from the Town of Cumberland thanks in large part to an Agricultural Conservation Easement purchased MFT & Chebeague & Cumberland Land Trust, which will protect the property from non-agricultural development in perpetuity.
Established in 1820 by Ruben Blanchard, portions of the farm have remained in continual agricultural use to this day. In 1996, much of the farm was sold to the Town of Cumberland by Ruben’s great-great granddaughter Kay Fowler and her husband Ken. In retirement, the Fowlers signed a long-term lease with Cumberland native Jeff Storey, who has worked on the farm since high school, to continue operating the popular local farm and market. Today, Spring Brook Farm produces beef and lamb, chickens and eggs, as well as a large variety of fresh produce, dairy products, bread, and other pantry goods, which are sold through the farm market.
As recently as the summer of 2019, the property has been looked at as a potential site for the town’s new sand and salt shed. Widespread community concern–citing the town’s stated goal to keep agricultural lands in production—ultimately opened the door to protecting the farm and selling the land to the farmer, rather than the development of the property.
“The protection of these 26 acres of prime farmland in the heart of Cumberland represents an exciting, momentous occasion for our community,” said Chris Cabot, CCLT’s executive director. “The Town, the land trusts, and the supporters of this project recognized the importance of ensuring that farms remain a principal component of Cumberland’s identity into the future.”
Storey said that he is “relieved to know that this critical portion of the farm has been permanently protected” and expressed his heartfelt appreciation to the town, its residents who donated toward the purchased easement, and CCLT and MFT who coordinated the project.
“This collaborative effort between the farmers, the Town, and land trust partners exemplifies the strength of conservation easements to enable local agricultural producers to expand their land base and invest in the future growth and development of their businesses,” said MFT project manager Chris Franklin.
CCLT and MFT will host an event on Friday, March 20 to celebrate the protection of Spring Brook Farm and the important role farms play in our communities. The two organizations invite all members of the community to a free screening of the new film Farmsteaders, followed by a panel discussion with local farmers, including Jeff Storey of Spring Brook Farm. Other panelists include Stephaine McDonough of Farm to Table Kids, and Brendon Wormell of Wormell Farms. The film points to the tenuousness of farming, and the panel will explore how communities can best support local farms. Learn more and RSVP!