This year the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust marks 30 years of conservation in the towns of Bowdoin, Brunswick, and Topsham, as well as the successful completion of its recent $7 million comprehensive fundraising campaign. The Land Trust invites the community to come together for a BBQ Celebration at the Farmers’ Market Green at Crystal Spring Farm on September 19th.
Three decades of conservation started when a small group of neighbors came together to protect the traditional character of a coastal meadow in the Pennelleville neighborhood of Brunswick. From this beginning grew the community-minded Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust.
The Land Trust now plays an active role in the community, shaping the iconic landscapes and managing essential resources and programs that many can’t imagine living without. 30 years of conservation has included the creation of miles of trail, an array of educational and collaborative programs, creation of a vibrant farmers market and community garden, protection of thousands of acres of open space, working land, and habitat, and so much more.
Jan Bodwell of Brunswick was the Land Trust’s first president, and the person who got it all started by coordinating the protection of Pennellville Meadow in 1985. She said then, “I had no idea that one decision would compound into a local land trust…but our land trust is a victory for the people of Brunswick and Topsham [and, later, Bowdoin]. Through the trust, we can now protect our critical local lands with flexibility and creativity.” Upon the anniversary of the Land Trust, Bodwell said she was amazed by the number of people who support the Land Trust today. “I never envisioned this level of support at the start.”
Supporters of the Land Trust encompass a broad range of very engaged people. Attendees of the Saturday Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm (CSF) often express their gratitude for the opportunity to buy fresh, local food, connect with neighbors, and enjoy the beautiful farm setting.
Land Trust Board member and sheep farmer Tom Settlemire loves to remind people that the Farmers’ Market isn’t just about healthy, tasty food. “It is also a place,” says Settlemire, “for small farms and local businesses to grow their own business as well as the economy of our community.”
CSF is an ideal venue for the BBQ because the Land Trust’s protection of the farm has played such an important role in the community. It provides a place for working agriculture and recreation very close to downtown; community resources such as trails, a community garden, the soon-to-be-built outdoor Labyrinth, and educational programs. It also protects a cultural and historic asset as CSF was central to the region’s dairy farms in the early part of the 19th century.
“You can’t do conservation without caring about people,” says volunteer trail supervisor Gary Fogg. His keen eye and strong back have made many miles of Land Trust trails both sustainable on the landscape and accessible to a wide range of community members.
Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust by the numbers:
|17 acres – 1 property conserved||2,300 acres – 41 properties conserved|
|0 miles of trail||17 miles of trail|
|Land Trust celebrates raising $2,000 during annual fundraiser||Land Trust celebrates completion of $7 million comprehensive campaign|
|86 contributing members||Over 1,000 contributing members|
|1 paid staff (1988 – first Land Trust in Maine with a fulltime director)||4.3 FTE staff|
|0 Programs||Leading 5 community programs and partnering on many others|
There are those who support the Land Trust as a result of experiences on these trails. William (Joe) Nichols, a Brunswick resident near CSF said, “I enjoy having open space and farms near my home. I walk my dog on the trails almost every day. I am thankful for the Land Trust and Crystal Spring Farm – they make my neighborhood and town better in every respect.” Nichols added that he likes to supplement his annual gift by sharing his beautiful photos of the trails for the Land Trust to use.
This kind of giving – community members coming together to share their skills and resources – has made the Land Trust the vibrant organization that it is today.
Bowdoin Professor of Economics, David Vail, says, “I really care about community vitality, and I’m convinced that the Land Trust is what makes Brunswick and Topsham such vital places to live.” There are trail volunteers, dedicated Board members, community partners, business donors, land owners, members and so many more who have been crucial to a successful 30 years of building community through conservation.
The Land Trust hopes that everyone will join in a celebration of community and conservation on September 19th. A BBQ meal will be catered by Mainely Catering, and activities include staff-led nature walks, music, as well as face painting, nature crafts and vegetable-car building for the kids,. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children 5 years and up, and FREE for kids 4 years and under. To find out more about the BBQ Celebration RSVP, and view the full schedule for the event please visit www.btlt.org/events/celebrate or call (207) 729-7694.