Archive for category: Blog

BTLT in the News, “Brunswick using public input to update bike-ped improvement plan”

Brunswick using public input to update bike-ped improvement plan

Alex Lear, The Forecaster

January 22, 2020

 

Despite a storm that shut down many town operations Jan. 27, about 25 stalwart residents braved the elements to attend the second of four public input sessions geared toward helping the town update its Bicycle and Pedestrian Improvement Plan.

The first meeting, held Jan. 8, covered Brunswick’s downtown, schools, Pleasant Street, Bowdoin College and surrounding neighborhoods. Last week’s meeting delved into rural roads and trails. Brunswick Landing and Cook’s Corner will be the focus of the third gathering at Southern Maine Community College at Brunswick Landing, 29 Sewall St., at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 27.

The meetings will culminate at 5 p.m. Feb. 27 with a town-wide meeting at Brunswick Town Hall, 85 Union St., at which Town Planner Jared Woolston plans to discuss the feedback culled about the areas of town that need safety and access improvements for bicyclists and pedestrians, as well as parts they already enjoy.

To read the whole article, click here.

Reducing Single Use Plastics

Single-use plastics persist in the environment long after their useful life is over. Switching to glass sandwich containers, bringing your own coffee mug to the cafe or water bottle to work, carrying out your vegetables without stuffing them into individual plastic bags or opting for reusable fabric produce bags, and bringing your own reusable grocery bags to the store are small steps that collectively make a big difference!

This month, when you visit our local Hannaford at 35 Elm Street in Brunswick, consider buying one of their Community Bags. For each bag purchased, they will donate $1 to BTLT.

Together, we can make a difference!

Merrymeeting Food Council Farm Labor Roundtable

Maine Farmers Grapple with Labor Shortage

Jeffrey B. Roth, Maine Correspondent,

January 17, 2020

The Merrymeeting Food Council recently held a roundtable event focused on the farm labor shortage in Maine. The Food Council is a collaborative network of farms, fisheries, businesses, nonprofits, government, and individuals working together to advance the food system in the 14 towns surrounding Merrymeeting Bay.

BOWDOINHAM, Maine — Finding reliable, hard-working workers continues to be a major challenge for Maine farmers.

In November, the Maine unemployment rate was 2.8%, according to the Maine Department of Labor’s Center for Workforce Research and Information, down from 3.5% for November 2018. Low unemployment, combined with stricter federal H-2A visa federal regulations imposed by the Trump administration on hiring foreign workers, an aging resident population and other factors, contribute to the difficulty of finding seasonal farm workers, Nikkilee Cataldo of the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, said at the Merrymeeting Food Council Farm Labor Roundtable, held in Bowdoinham.

A collaborative network of farms, fisheries, businesses, government, nonprofit organizations and individuals, the organization provides resources that support the production and sale of local produce and fish, in addition to promoting community wellness, Cataldo told the audience of about 100 area farmers, mostly from 14 towns surrounding the Merrymeeting Bay-area. The evening program featured presentations about labor pools, organizing labor and worker cooperatives, effective labor management tools and solicited comments and ideas from the audience.

To read more about the Roundtable, click here.

BTLT in the News, “Land Trust announces line up for annual winter gardening workshops in Brunswick”

Land Trust announces line up for annual winter gardening workshops in Brunswick

January 6, 2020

Winter Garden Workshops are here again! This year, the series will be held in partnership with the Curtis Memorial Library on six Sundays through the winter.

BTLT is grateful to Camden National Bank for their sponsorship of this year’s Winter Garden Workshops, making it possible to offer six events throughout the winter.  “We’re very pleased to sponsor the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust’s popular Winter Garden Workshop Series,” said Jim Edwards, Senior Vice President, Treasury Management & Government Banking Sales Adviser at Camden National Bank. “We work closely with the land trust to provide financial services and guidance, and we see first-hand their incredible work to strengthen the community through land conservation and educational programming.”

All talks will take place on Sundays from 1:30-3:30 PM in the Morrell Meeting Room of Curtis Memorial Library.

January 26: Shade and Woodland Gardening with Native Plants

February 2: DIY Medicinals & Salves

February 16: Beekeeping Basics

February 23: Traditional Xeriscaping (Gardening without Watering) in Maine

March 15: Small Space Gardening

March 22: Nut Crops and Unusual Plants

For detailed topic descriptions and presenters, visit www.btlt.org/gardening-workshops.

To become a member and support programs like the Winter Garden Workshops, visit our membership page.

BTLT’s Year in Review

At this wonderful time of giving and thanks, we want to express our deep gratitude to the many hundreds of loyal supporters who made the work of the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust (BTLT) possible this year.

BTLT is a member-driven community organization that works collaboratively with municipalities and partner organizations to conserve the remarkable natural resources of Brunswick, Topsham, and Bowdoin.  Just as important as conserving these natural places is connecting the people of our region to them.   We made great strides in 2019 in both of these areas.

BTLT’s star achievement of 2019 was our collaboration with the Maine Coast Heritage Trust to conserve Woodward Point, nearly 90 acres of land with two miles of shorefront on Woodward Cove and the New Meadow River in Brunswick. This spectacular property was opened to the public in September and in just a few months has become an indispensable entrée to the waterfront for the people of our area, where public access to the coast is so limited.

Woodward Point Preserve

BTLT also created brand-new trails on the Tarbox Preserve in Topsham.  This beautiful wooded 124-acre property has frontage on both the Cathance and the Muddy Rivers.  Last July our staff and regional field team cleared old logging roads, hauled stone, and removed roots and boulders to create a trail on the north side of the property that winds along stone walls, through fern gullies, and past towering pines to a peninsula overlooking the Cathance River.  We encourage you to get out on this beautiful new trail in all seasons of the year.

Tarbox Preserve

BTLT completed two other significant conservation projects in Topsham in 2019:  the Robert Williams Preserve, totaling 73 acres with 5,600’ of river frontage on the tidal portion of the Cathance River; and the 53-acre Schoodic Forestry parcel, with more than two miles of frontage on the Androscoggin River in a part of town without much conserved land.  In addition to protecting wetlands and wildlife habitat, it will allow for public access to the river for hiking, fishing, and enjoying nature.

Crystal Spring Farm Celebration

The theme of the Land Trust’s community outreach this year has been “Honoring Our Heritage, Building Our Future.”  We honored our heritage in grand style with a year-long celebration of BTLT’s signature property Crystal Spring Farm in Brunswick, complete with nature and history walks, citizen science, and a festival of music and food at the farm in September.  2019 marked 25 years since we undertook conservation of the farm and 20 years since we opened our award-winning farmers’ market.  We are proud of all the work BTLT does to support local agriculture, and the market is the centerpiece of these efforts, providing a vibrant market to 39 local farmers, bakers, cheesemakers and others producers. In the “Building our Future” category, we continued to build robust partnerships with local schools and some of our most meaningful days this year were spent with dozens of school children getting their hands dirty and learning where local food comes from at the Tom Settlemire Community Garden.

Another major initiative in 2019 was the member and community survey BTLT conducted last summer.  Over 520 people responded to the survey with great feedback on what we are doing right and where we can improve.  We expect to respond to some of the survey results immediately, with plans for things like better signage and more guided walks at BTLT properties.  Other survey findings will be incorporated more gradually through the upcoming review of our five-year strategic plan, helping us to ensure that as an organization we are meeting our members’ expectations and responding to identified community needs.

Community Survey

As we celebrate our many achievements in 2019, we are also aware that every conservation success today entails future responsibility.  When the Land Trust conserves a property, it also takes on a commitment – in perpetuity – for responsible stewardship of the land.  A firm financial footing is essential to ensure we are able to meet that responsibility.  In 2019, BTLT increased the size of its stewardship endowment to $700,000, making significant progress toward our five-year goal of $2 million. We also created the BTLT Legacy Circle to recognize and thank those who include BTLT in their estate plans.  We are proud to report that 18 individuals and families have already made such a commitment.  Legacy gifts are the cornerstone of BTLT’s long-term sustainability and ensure that the places we conserve today will remain well taken care of for generations to come.

We thank all of our members and supporters for making the successes of 2019 possible.  We look forward to 2020 and the possibilities that await us to conserve special places and connect the people of our region to them.  Happy New Year!

If you’d like to help support BTLT in 2020, click here.

Angela Twitchell and Emily Swan are the executive director and president, respectively, of the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust.