BTLT in the News, “Guest column: Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust connects people to nature”

Guest column: Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust connects people to nature

By Emily Swan – August 10, 2021

The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust (BTLT) marked the end of its 2020-21 fiscal year on June 30 with hearts full of gratitude to our members and our community.

First, to our members. To all of the 1,081 individuals, families, businesses, and organizations who joined BTLT or renewed their memberships in 2020-21, thank you. BTLT has worked mightily in this uniquely challenging year to adapt its programs, farmers’ market, trails, and community garden to meet heightened needs during the pandemic. Your continued support is the best validation of those efforts we could possibly hope for.

During a year when the national average for member retention among U.S. non-profit organizations is just shy of 44%, an astonishing 82% of BTLT’s community members and 91% of community partners (donors giving $1,000 or more a year) stuck with us last year. Many even increased the size of their annual gift! We are gratified and humbled by your loyalty to BTLT and its mission of strengthening community through conservation.

The pandemic created enormous obstacles in the ways BTLT has traditionally connected with the community. At the same time, it underscored the value of our trails and programs to the community. This past year has seen a strengthening of our existing partnerships and given rise to new ones.

The Farmers’ Market remains as popular as ever, and each week increasing numbers of food-insecure Mainers are discovering the delicious, nutritious local food available at the market through the Maine Harvest Bucks program. We are grateful to Flight Deck Brewing and Wild Oats Bakery and Cafe for giving up parking space each Saturday morning to allow our Farmers’ Market to operate safely during the pandemic. Beginning Labor Day weekend, the Market will be returning to its beloved traditional site atop the hill at Crystal Spring Farm.

BTLT volunteers at the Tom Settlemire Community Garden (TSCG) have deepened their partnership with Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program (MCHPP) this year. A new volunteer-built hoop house has extended the growing season, and new beds in the Common Good Garden mean that this year BTLT is likely to deliver a greater variety and quantity of fresh, organic produce to MCHPP than ever.

We have forged new links with groups of people wishing to grow their own food through a crowdsourcing effort on social media that raised over $14,000 in just a few days from existing and new members to build raised beds. Four tall adaptive beds are allowing people with mobility issues to grow food at the TSCG, and ten beds constructed outside BTLT’s office at Brunswick Landing have created a space for New Mainer families living at the Landing to grow their own food. This garden has become a real community meeting place for these families, and BTLT is looking forward to deepening this relationship through increased programming in this space.

BTLT’s trails remain as popular as ever. Our stewardship staff and volunteers are working hard on improvements to existing trails and construction of new ones. This will lead to the re-opening of some trails that are currently closed and the inauguration of new trail systems in our area. Stay tuned for more information about that!

We are also strengthening our partnership with the Cathance River Education Alliance (CREA) to offer educational programming, beginning with a series of presentations on climate change planned for this winter.

BTLT is working with several individuals and organizations to increase our understanding of the ways in which conservation organizations like ours have fallen short in serving the needs of all groups in our society. We aim to build trust with historically marginalized groups, and to take concrete steps to make BTLT and the natural places it stewards more just, equitable, and diverse.

These are just some of the ways BTLT is working to connect people to nature and to the land. Although the pandemic is far from over and much uncertainty remains, we can be sure of this: BTLT’s strength lies with its members and its community. Thank you for the confidence you have placed in us through your partnerships and your support.

Emily Swan, president,
Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust




Rensenbrinks Conserve Additional Land in Cathance River Corridor

By Angela Twitchell, BTLT Executive Director

When I became a Topsham resident in 1999, one of the first things I did upon arrival was join the Board of the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust (BTLT). One of the first projects I helped work on as a member of the BTLT Lands Committee was finalizing the easement that would create the Cathance River Nature Preserve. The easement and the Preserve were a collaborative effort between the community organization – Topsham’s Future, Highland Green and BTLT. Through this incredible effort I was introduced to Carla and John Rensenbrink, long-time Topsham residents and community leaders.

I would later work closely with Carla on establishing Topsham’s Conservation Committee (later Commission) and with John and other community activists on Topsham’s Government Improvement Committee. We also worked closely together for many years to conserve and establish Topsham’s Head of Tide Park. Through these interactions and many more, John and Carla became not only good friends but deeply-admired mentors. They helped instill in me a strong commitment to making our community a great place to call home and a desire to bring diverse members of our community together around common goals. It is hard for me to imagine that I would have become so deeply ingrained in the fabric of Topsham without the guidance and example of John and Carla.

One of the many things I admire most about John and Carla is that they don’t just “talk the talk” when it comes to conservation and the protection of our special, local natural resources – they “walk the walk.” In 2002, Carla and John placed a conservation easement on 34 acres of their approximately 55-acre property located just above head of tide on the Cathance River in Topsham. They later allowed a portion of the Cathance River trail that connects Head of Tide Park to the Cathance River Nature Preserve to be built across their property. They were founders and Board and Advisory Board members of the Cathance River Education Alliance and stalwart members of the Head of Tide Park Committee. Carla also served for many years on the BTLT Board of Directors and Topsham Conservation Commision.

Adding to this long legacy of helping to conserve the Cathance River, on June 28, 2021, John and Carla donated a conservation easement on an additional 17.5 acres of their property to the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust. All of us at BTLT are incredibly grateful for their generosity and commitment to the conservation of the Cathance River. This easement will ensure that a portion of the Cathance River Trail will be protected forever and will allow for an expansion of the trail in the future. The easement will also ensure that the property will be retained forever in its undeveloped, natural condition in order to protect the water quality of the Cathance River and its watershed. In addition, it will continue to provide public access for low-impact recreational opportunities. This conservation easement will also protect plant, wildlife, wetlands, agricultural soils, and upland habitat. 

Please join us in sending a heartfelt thank you to the Rensenbrinks!

The conservation of the incredible resource that is the Cathance River would not be possible without the commitment of landowners and community activists like John and Carla.

Next time you are walking the Cathance River Trail or paddling along the Cathance River in Topsham, think about John and Carla and know that the public enjoyment of these special places wouldn’t have been possible without them.

Celebrate National Farmers Market Week with a BTLT Farmers’ Market Giveaway!

By Julia St. Clair, BTLT Agricultural Programs Coordinator

Happy National Farmers Market Week! 

The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Saturday Farmers’ Market is an important part of the Land Trust’s mission of supporting local agriculture. With over 30 vendors this season, the Saturday Market offers an exceptional variety of local, fresh products from kohlrabi to kale, pastries to potatoes, oysters to onions, and yarrow to yarn. Plus, live music is back bringing cheer and even some dancing to the Market! This past year has been challenging for us all, and our vendors have worked tirelessly to keep our communities safe and fed and to bring Market visitors the best local products. Rain or shine, our incredible vendors and loyal Market visitors show up every Saturday, building community around local agriculture and deepening our understanding of where our food comes from. 

The Land Trust is excited to celebrate National Farmers Market Week with our vendors and Market visitors this weekend and throughout the month of August. Be sure to stop by the info tent on Saturday to grab an ‘I Love Fruits and Veggies’ sticker or an ‘I love Farmers Markets’ temporary tattoo!

To continue to celebrate National Farmers Market Week throughout the month of August, BTLT is launching a Farmers’ Market Giveaway on social media. To enter, we are asking you, our Market visitors, to take a photo of your haul of goodies from the Saturday Farmers’ Market (see example photo below). Simply post your market haul photo on Facebook or Instagram, and tag the Land Trust and any vendors you visited. Be sure to follow us on Facebook or Instagram too – we will be re-sharing all the amazing photos you post! A winner will be selected at random on September 1st and will receive some BTLT merchandise, Bumper Crop vouchers to use at the Market, and some surprise goodies from our Market vendors!

We look forward to seeing you all at the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Farmers’ Market this Saturday 8:30-12:30 at the Brunswick Landing next to Flight Deck Brewing. 

Just a reminder that the Farmers’ Market is moving back to Crystal Spring Farm (277 Pleasant Hill Road) on September 4th, Labor Day weekend. Be sure to mark your calendar!

A Walk at Crystal Spring Farm

By Lydia Coburn, BTLT Communications Coordinator

A couple of weeks ago, I walked around the southern side of Crystal Spring Farm with BTLT Board Member Keisha Payson, and Crystal Spring Farm resident Maura Bannon. Oh, and their dogs Winn, Nigel, and Nel. The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust acquired the property starting in the mid-1990s, and it is now our largest property at 321 acres! 

Just a friendly reminder: dogs are allowed on the Crystal Spring Farm property trails but must be leashed at all times.

Dogs are not allowed in the gardens.

This was my very first time at Crystal Spring Farm, and I knew that I would not have the capacity to explore every corner of the vast property. It was a bit overcast as Keisha and Maura showed me around the East Trail and Ravine Loop. 

Keisha shared that she used to live in the farmhouse on the property about 20 years ago. She rented from Burt Dionne, the dairy farm manager and local vet at that time. Maura currently lives in that very same farmhouse! She and Seth Kroeck manage all operations of the farm today, cultivating vegetables and running a CSA. 

little way down the first trail, we came across what looked like a large depression in the landscape. Keisha and Maura remarked that the property has changed significantly over time, that the pond in front of us “looked completely different 25 years ago.” Keisha said that years ago, when the dairy farm was in full production (and processing milk from surrounding regional farms as well, Maura added) the pond was colloquially called The Milking Pond. Back then, no one wanted skim milk, so the skimmed milk would get drained into the pond on the property, which eventually drains into the Maquoit Bay. Local clammers would remark at how strong the clams were, supposedly from all the added calcium from the milk! 

From the 1940s-1970, Crystal Spring Farm also produced Dee’s Ice Cream. Keisha recalled her father telling her that his elementary school would have field trips to Crystal Spring Farm, with all the kids getting to enjoy some ice cream at the end of the trip. 

Although you can no longer get ice cream at the Farm, you can find a variety of other delicious local foods at the BTLT Saturday Farmers’ Market! Though it is currently still at the Brunswick Landing, beginning Saturday September 4th, the market will be moving back to Crystal Spring Farm.  

As we walked through the trails, beautifully nestled between forest and farm, I was thinking about what a perfect edge habitat this is for wildlife to thrive. But also for people of all ages to enjoy. Maura remarked that the trails have gotten a lot more traffic this past year due to the pandemic and folks wanting to get outside. “The trails are a bit more worn. I used to not see too many people, and now there’s lots of people out and about,” says Maura. I could certainly see why – Crystal Spring Farm is a perfect spot to go for a walk (with a friend, with kids, with dogs, or by yourself) and immerse yourself in a local, natural environment.  

 Some flora we saw along the way include chokeberry bushes, moosewood, lady slippers, white birch and lots of mushrooms. With such a diversity of plants and habitat, it’s no wonder this property is also home to over 150 species of birds! For a glimpse at some common warblers, eastern meadowlarks, bobolinks, field sparrows, or eastern towhees, bring your binoculars over to Crystal Spring Farm.  

Have a favorite BTLT property you think has a special story to tell?

Let’s go for a walk!  

Carolina Parakeet to Starfish: A human connection

By Tess Davis, Bowdoin Summer Fellow on DEI

This week, I’m thinking about animals. As most of you know, climate change is adversely affecting animals. This is deeply sad and, I think, should motivate people to fight climate change. So let’s look more closely at two animals, the now extinct Carolina Parakeet and the starfish of Maine, to better understand the importance of animals and how much we would lose if we do not combat climate change.

Let’s start with the starfish. I’ve only seen a starfish once in my life, but the sighting had a substantial impact on me. When I was a child, my father took my brothers and me on walks along the Maine coastline. We walked in the early morning, a few hours after sunrise. On the morning we found the starfish, my youngest brother gave a sudden shout, and I ran from the edges of the sea to where he stood pointing. The starfish was stuck to the rocks a few feet above a tide pool. It was perfect. It was the same sandy pink as the rocks and each arm formed a cartoonish pointed tip.

When I held the starfish in my hands, I had an incredible realization that the starfish and I were not so different. Our ancestors both evolved in the sea over millions of years, and, out of all the times and places in history, we ended up together, here, on this morning.

Nature, and especially animals, have the power to remind us of our unique place in the world. In many ways, humans are just another species caught up in the food web. Yet, we are also thinking, feeling beings who have a responsibility to care for the land.

Unfortunately, we have failed to protect the natural world. Instead, we have abused the environment, and we are actively harming the very species that bring us so much joy and connect us to our humanity. This idea had been ruminating in my mind, but it did not come into focus until I read J. Drew Lanham’s Forever Gone. Lanham discusses the extinction of the Carolina Parakeet, a bird he feels a particular connection to as a black man. As Lanham explains, the Carolina Parakeet thrived in the American South before its extinction in the early 20th century. Lanham believes that his enslaved ancestors felt a connection to the Carolina Parakeet.

In the grueling hours of manual labor, he imagines that his ancestors looked to the sky, to the flocks of Carolina Parakeets eating cockleburs and calling to each other in jubilant expressions of freedom, and felt hope.

Lanham mourns the Carolina Parakeet’s extinction because the parakeets embodied his connection to the land and the land’s history. Likewise, my encounter with a starfish helped me to realize the depth of our connection to the natural world. Although starfish are not extinct, in 2013 and 2014, there was a starfish disease outbreak on the west coast and parts of New England. This disease, Sea Star Wasting Syndrome, causes starfish to develop lesions, lose their limbs, and eventually disintegrate into mush. New research discovered that warm water temperatures exasperate Sea Star Wasting Syndrome. Therefore, as the water warms due to climate change, more and more starfish could be at risk. The 2013-2014 outbreak caused millions of starfish to die. Currently, starfish populations are recovering, but Sea Star Wasting Syndrome might become a threat to starfish again.

Starfish and Carolina Parakeets are only two examples of the thousands of species that have been negatively affected by humans. Animals give us so much. Animals renew our spirits, connect us to the land, connect us to our ancestors, and connect us to ourselves. Yet, if we do not change how we treat the world, we could lose many species. If we lose animals, we are losing parts of ourselves. We must change for the better.

Merrymeeting Gleaners now a program of Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program

As of this week, the Merrymeeting Gleaners, a program piloted by the Merrymeeting Food Council (MFC), is now going to be managed by Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program (MCHPP). The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust is incredibly proud to have been a part of the creation of this impressive, local gleaning project! We look forward to seeing it grow under the leadership of MCHPP, as well as continuing to be apart of other impactful programs run by MFC.

To learn more, check out the article below from the Merrymeeting Food Council’s website.

Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program (MCHPP) and Merrymeeting Food Council (MFC) are excited to share that the Merrymeeting Gleaners, previously a program of the Merrymeeting Food Council, will now be run as a program of MCHPP. MFC, the volunteer leaders of the Merrymeeting Gleaners, and MCHPP believe this shift will ensure the sustainability of the Merrymeeting Gleaners Program into the future.

The Merrymeeting Gleaners harvest and distribute surplus produce from farms as well as process local food for year-round distribution. MFC launched the pilot Merrymeeting Gleaners program five years ago in partnership with Gabrielle Gosselin and Nate Drummond of Six River Farm and with volunteers from the UMaine Extension’s Harvest for Hunger Program. Since 2016, over 125 volunteers have gleaned 206,864 pounds of local food from more than 35 farms and distributed that to community members through 37 recipient organizations in 17 towns. That has meant over 172,000 farm fresh meals for our communities.

The work of the Merrymeeting Gleaners aligns very well with MCHPP’s mission and strategic goals. MCHPP and MFC have both worked to distribute gleaned or donated local produce, purchasing local food to support food producers, increasing access to food through Sharing Tables, mobile pantries, and processing or freezing local produce for year-round donation. The COVID-19 pandemic increased food insecurity rates in mid coast Maine exponentially. MCHPP’s programs saw anywhere from a 10-55% increase in use from 2019 to 2020. This partnership will increase our joint capacity and ensure that the growing number of food insecure members of our community have ample access to local, fresh, nutritious food. Gleaned produce will be used to stock MCHPP’s grocery and meal distribution sites, which provide the community with more than 500,000 free meals annually.

“This is an exciting new opportunity for MCHPP and the entire community,” says Hannah Chatalbash, Deputy Director for MCHPP. “MCHPP already invests significantly in partnerships with local farms, either by collecting unpurchased produce that they can no longer use, or by purchasing produce to help support the continued sustainability of the farm. Gleaning offers another link between our organization and the farm community that is so vital to reducing hunger in our area.”

“This program would not have been possible without the generosity of farmers, volunteers and funders. The relationships, trust, and community that have been nurtured over the past five years through the Merrymeeting Gleaners network are an essential piece of its success,” says MFC Coordinator, Harriet Van Vleck. “The Merrymeeting Gleaners program is the type of collaborative solution to community level challenges in our food system that MFC’s network seeks to support. MCHPP was a core partner as the gleaning program developed and MFC looks forward to our continued collaboration, while also being able to focus on other developing partnerships and programs.”

MFC’s ongoing and upcoming work includes:

  • Supporting the development of Community Meal programs which increase food access and build community in area towns.
  • Hosting Roundtable events to convene partners around food system challenges best addressed through collaborative solutions.
  • Coordinating a pilot Farm Skills Training Program for individuals facing barriers to employment such as housing insecurity.
  • Building food system connections statewide, through leadership in the 2021 Maine Food Convergence and the Maine Network of Community Food Councils.

Organizational Background:

The Merrymeeting Gleaners have been gleaning year round for three years and their impact has extended beyond this region through the model they set for gleaning groups statewide. In 2020 alone, Goranson Farm, Growing to Give, and Six River Farm each donated over 9,000 lbs of produce. These three, along with Whatley Farm, Fairwinds Farm, and the LOCAL Garden also stock the Gleaners’ Sharing Tables with produce. Through leadership in the Maine Gleaning Network the Merrymeeting Gleaners continue to help grow other gleaning groups and share best practices.

MFC is a network of organizations and individuals working to advance a thriving, resilient, and equitable food system that supports the health and natural resources of our communities. MCHPP has been a key partner in MFC’s network since MFC formed in 2015. Other key MFC partners include Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, Growing to Give, Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, and many other organizations and individuals.

Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program offers dignity and empowerment by providing all members of our community with access to healthy food. Services include prepared meals, grocery distribution on-site, at local schools, and satellite locations in Harpswell and Lisbon Falls. The MCHPP food pantry–located at 12 Tenney Way, Brunswick–is open to the public on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Friday from 11 am–2 pm; Tuesday evenings 4-6 pm; and Saturdays from noon–3 pm; the Soup Kitchen serves freshly made-to-go meals on Mondays–Fridays from 11 am–12:30 pm and Saturdays noon–1:30 pm. MCHPP is committed to ensuring that our services are open and available to any and all in need.

To check out the new Merrymeeting Gleaners site through MCHPP, click here.

Apogee Adventures Lends a Hand at the Tom Settlemire Community Garden

By George Jutras, BTLT Land Steward

This week, high school students on a program with Brunswick-based Apogee Adventures spent the afternoon volunteering in the Tom Settlemire Community Garden. Extra hands are always appreciated on garden projects! It was especially helpful to have twelve young students and their leaders help us with the groundwork for a new expansion of the water system at the garden.

David Brooks, of Brooks Hydro Logic, has been immensely helpful in volunteering his time to plan and construct much of the existing water system at the community garden, including this project expansion. With Dave’s direction and help, the Apogee students dug trenches and laid new pipes. They also levelled and packed a gravel foundation for a new water tank on the southern side of the garden. In addition, the students helped dig trenches for new connections to the wellhead near the garden entrance and for a hydrant at the northern garden boundary. It’s always a pleasure working with Apogee students and staff, and we appreciate their continuing partnership!

“Apogee offers outdoor adventure travel to teens and young adults. They provide students with well-designed hiking, biking, community service, writing, photography, and language programs to spectacular locations throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Caribbean.

They travel in small, supportive, co-ed groups led by dynamic, responsible, and well-trained leaders. In this nurturing and wholesome environment, students learn about themselves and others through physical challenge and volunteer work. Traveling by their own power, students will achieve new heights. Apogee’s primary goals are for students to have fun, form lasting friendships, and to develop strong values.

It’s Blueberry Season!

It’s once again blueberry season at Crystal Spring Farm. A portion of the farm on the south side of Pleasant Hill Road consists of a rare natural community of plants known as a sandplain grassland, which is ideal habitat for low-bush blueberries. It’s July, so the blueberries in the barren are ripening now!  

Please note that the Land Trust only owns a small section of the barren. The much larger adjacent property is leased and managed by Seth Kroeck, Crystal Spring’s farm manager, for the commercial sale of organic blueberries. Please do not pick beyond the Land Trust’s clearly marked property boundary. 

Kroeck described his growing process for us. “Growing blueberries is a two-year cycle. We prune the plants, either by mowing or burning, the spring after the harvest. The next year they regrow and it is on this new growth that they make flowers and then fruit. By dividing the field in two, each season we have one section of plants in regeneration and one ready to harvest.”  

BTLT undertakes a similar management practice, and this spring half of the section open to the public was burned to promote healthy growth of this unique habitat. Because of this, there will only be berries in the western section this year. 

  • . The boundary line is marked with metal stakes and signs, and the lone trees in the middle of the field mark part of the boundary. 

Kroeck also noted that “Bees for pollination are rented from Swan’s Honey in Albion. We truck them back and forth, loading in the evenings when the colonies are inside the hives. It takes 30 to 40 hives to pollinate this crop.” There are also a few ‘resident hives’ on the north side of Pleasant Hill Road that help to pollinate the blueberries when they are in flower.  

Mowing, bringing in hives to pollinate, harvesting, and processing are all labor and capital intensive for Kroeck and Crystal Spring Community Farm. But, blueberries have become one of the farms’ most important crops, and can be found in natural food and grocery stores up and down the coast. This significant investment is also why we ask the community to be mindful of only picking in the areas BTLT has set aside for public gathering. 

The massive “barren” at Crystal Spring doesn’t just produce blueberries, though. The area is a rare natural community home to sedges, birds, reptiles, and butterflies that depend on sandy soils and full sunlight to thrive. Once common along the northeastern coast, development and changing land uses have all but eliminated this unique biome, and the Maine Natural Areas Program lists it as “critically imperiled.” The unique habitat is a product of geologic history and human actions. The sand and gravel deposited by melting glaciers at the end of the last ice age provides a level, well-drained base that acidic plants love. Both Native Americans and European settlers used fire deliberately as a way to maintain the area as grassland and promote blueberry production. 

In 2019, BTLT hosted a “bioblitz” at the property to help catalog the many species that call this place home. The recent prescribed burn of the blueberry barrens will help ensure this unique habitat is sustained, and BTLT will carefully monitor the recovery and the species that it has impacted. 

If you’re interested in learning more about the prescribed burn and this rare natural community, join the Land Trust’s Stewardship Manager, Margaret Gerber, on July 27th at 5:30 PM. She’ll take you through the process of planning on the ground for a prescribed burn and what the Land Trust hoped to accomplish by burning 14 acres of the barren in April, as well as any other questions you have around land management. To learn more about the event and register, you can click here. 

If you can’t make the walk but would like to visit the blueberry barrens, 

  • now is a great time of year to do so while the blueberries are ripe for the picking. We also recently installed interpretive signage at the farm that helps describe this unique community.  

Our blueberry barren is located south of Pleasant Hill Road. To access it, you can park at the Crystal Spring Farm trail parking area and take the East Trail.  Where the East Trail intersects the Blueberry Loop, take a right toward the field and you’ll find blueberries! 

As you enjoy the blueberries and engage in this wonderful rite of summer, please respect a few important rules: 

  • Stay on our property: The map at the end of this post shows the location of our property boundary. These maps are posted at primary entrances to our property.
  • Park responsibly: While we prefer that people use the parking area described above and walk to the barren, it is also possible to park along Pleasant Hill Road near the gate approximately 0.75 mile from Maine Street. If you park on Pleasant Hill Road: 
  • DO NOT BLOCK THE FARM ROAD OR GATE! The road must be accessible to farm and fire equipment at all times. 
  • Park only on the south side of Pleasant Hill Road (the side the blueberries are on). With cars parked on both sides of the road, pedestrians crossing, runners and bikers, and farm equipment all converging – it makes for a very unsafe situation. 
  • Have fun! And share your best blueberry recipes with us! 

If you have questions, give us a call at 729-7694. Happy picking! 

New Signage at Crystal Spring Farm

By George Jutras, BTLT Land Steward
The BTLT stewardship team recently finished installing some new interpretive signage at Crystal Spring Farm. Signs near the Farmstead parking area at the East Trail trailhead detail the history of farming and conservation at Crystal Spring. They highlight the chronology of events that has led to the successful coexistence of a popular public access trail system and active farm, all concurrently managed for ecological conservation of the land. A sign at the intersection of the East trail and Ravine Trail remembers the Indigenous history of the area, highlighting the Wabanaki People and their longstanding connection to and ecological maintenance of the area in which Brunswick and Crystal Spring Farm now lie. An additional sign near the intersection of the Blueberry Loop and the East Trail discusses the natural history and ecological significance of the Sandplain Grassland ecosystem. It comprises a significant portion of the Crystal Spring Farm area, particularly the blueberry barrens on the southern side of the property.

Now Hiring: Farmers’ Market Parking Coordinators

Farmers Market Parking Coordinators  

(2 positions) 


About BTLT and its agricultural programs: 

The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust (BTLT) offers the Saturday Farmers’ Market and Tom Settlemire Community Garden (TSCG) at Crystal Spring Farm on Pleasant Hill Road in Brunswick. This 321-acre property plays an integral role in our mission, which includes conserving and protecting our region’s natural resources, as well as supporting local agriculture and fisheries now and for generations to come. It is our goal to support and develop the local natural resource-based economy to keep farmland, forests, and fisheries open, working, and productive. We are also working to make strides toward providing significantly more of our community’s food needs through local production. The Saturday Farmers’ Market commonly sees several thousand visitors on a busy summer weekend, hosts over thirty diverse vendors, and has kept millions of dollars in the local food economy.  


About the role: 

The Farmers’ Market Parking Coordinators are part time, seasonal employees who, as part of a two-person team, implement the set-up and break-down of the farmers’ market site, and manage the parking during the hours when the market is operating. This includes being on site at the Market Saturdays, 7am to 1pm, for the months of September and October, in rain or shine conditions. 

Skills Required: 

  • Great interpersonal skills, and experience working with the public 
  • Physical ability to lift 45 lbs and carry equipment
  • Organized and detail oriented
  • Valid drivers license


  • Set-up & put-away cones and market informational signage before and after market
  • Assist market manager with set-up and break down of market booth & informational materials 
  • Manage traffic flow & parking at farmers’ market site
  • Interact with market patrons & vendors

Compensation and Benefits: 

This part time position includes an hourly salary of $16/hr. 

How to Apply: 

To apply, please submit a cover letter and resume to Please use “Market Parking Coordinator” as the subject line of your email. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis as they are received, with a deadline of August 16, 2021. 


About Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust:  

BTLT is an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit with a mission to steward the cherished landscapes and rich natural resources of our communities, to connect people to nature by providing recreational opportunities and other engaging community activities, and to support local agriculture and fisheries, now and for generations to come. We were founded in 1985 and have grown over the past 35 years into a robust organization that holds over 2,500 acres in conservation, provides diverse programming, and works closely with an array of community partners to enhance the environmental vibrancy and health of our region.  Our organization has approximately 1,000 members including a vibrant business membership. We have five part- to full-time staff, a board of directors of nearly 20, and dozens of active committee members. Learn more about our mission and programs at 

Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate based on race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other legally protected factors. We actively encourage community members with diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and ways of life to consider working with us.