Archive for category: In the News

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 in the News, “Land Trust 2019: The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust’s Year in Review”

Land Trust 2019: The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust’s Year in Review

By Angela Twitchell and Emily Swan

December 27, 2019

Between working with Maine Coast Heritage Trust to conserve Woodward Point Preserve, trail building on Tarbox Preserve, maintaining trails, building gardens at Perryman Village, and conserving additional properties, Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust has had an exciting year.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us to make it possible!

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.

To read the rest of the recent article in the Portland Press Herald, click here.

There’s still time to give in 2019 to support us in 2020! Visit our membership page to learn more.

BTLT in the News, “Merrymeeting Bay groups look to tackle farm labor shortage”

Merrymeeting Bay groups look to tackle farm labor shortage

By Sandy Stott

December 6, 2019

On December 16th, the Merrymeeting Food Council is hosting a roundtable that’s open to the public on Monday, December 16th.

A wide-ranging group of stakeholders from the Merrymeeting Bay area are getting together later this month to discuss ways to address the local farm labor shortage.

The Merrymeeting Food Council and University of Maine Cooperative Extension are hosting a roundtable Monday, Dec. 16, to discuss farm labor models, share resources and build a network focused on short and long-term solutions to a shortage of workers in the industry.

The council, based in Brunswick, represents 14 towns that surround Merrymeeting Bay, including Richmond, Dresden, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Woolwich, Bath, Topsham, Brunswick, West Bath, Arrowsic, Westport, Harpswell, Phippsburg and Georgetown. The group is a collaborative network of farms, fisheries, businesses, nonprofits, government and individuals working together to advance the food system in the region.

Planning partners for the event besides the food council include area farmers and representatives of Bowdoinham Community Development Initiative; Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust; the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry; the Maine Department of Labor; Land for Good; Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association; and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

To read the rest of the recent article, click here.

To register for the Roundtable or learn more about the Merrymeeting Food Council, click here.

BTLT in the News, “Survey says: Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust forming new strategic plan”

Survey says: Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust forming new strategic plan

By Alex Lear

November 26 2019

Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust completed a community survey this fall to gain a deeper understanding of what our members and the greater community think about the work that we do. Alex Lear recently covered the results of the survey in an article in the Portland Press Herald.

The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust has many great preserves to offer, but could do a little better publicizing them, preliminary results from a recent survey have determined.

The organization plans to spend the next several months analyzing survey data received this year from 520 community members, and use those findings to develop a new, five-year strategic plan by 2022.

The survey was meant to ascertain community awareness of BTLT’s work and learn how the organization can better serve members and the community, according to Executive Director Angela Twitchell. The questionnaire had multiple choice options, answers from which were more readily available this month, along with opportunities for people to write in comments.

“We really wanted to seek some more meaningful information,” she said Monday, adding that the respondents “gave us some really great feedback.”

The “strong and overwhelmingly positive response” is “a great boost for us,” Twitchell said.

But some areas for improvement were mentioned, too, which will inform BTLT as it convenes an advisory council next March to review the findings and hold an April board retreat to consider mid-term revisions to its current 2017 strategic plan, in view of those results.

To read the rest of the recent article in the Portland Press Herald, click here.

BTLT on the Radio, “Conserving Maine’s Islands: What’s Being Done to Protect Maine Islands from Climate Change & Threats”

 

Conserving Maine’s Islands: What’s Being Done to Protect Maine Islands from Climate Change & Threats

By Cindy Han

November 6, 2019

Angela Twitchell, BTLT’s Executive Director and the Chair of the Maine Land Trust Network was recently featured on Maine Public Radio’s Maine Calling alongside Tim Glidden, president of Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Suzanne MacDonald, Chief Community Development Officer of The Island Institute, and Sarah Demers, director of Land for Maine’s Future Program with the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Climate change has the potential to wreak havoc on Maine’s coast and coastal islands. Since 1950, the sea level along the coast of Maine has risen eight inches and is continuing to rise at the rate of one inch every eight years. Warming waters and ocean acidification present additional challenges to those residing and making a living on Maine’s islands. Multiple efforts are underway to protect and conserve Maine’s coastal islands, beaches, marshes, bold coast, working harbors and more against erosion and damage from strong waves and storm surges. We discuss those threats and initiatives to increase access to the Maine coast for recreational use and commercial access.

Click here to listen to the program!

BTLT in the News, “Canoeing in Maine: Exploring Woodward Point in Brunswick”

Canoeing in Maine: Exploring Woodward Point in Brunswick

By Michael Perry

November 10, 2019

Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust and Maine Coast Heritage Trust recently conserved Woodward Point Preserve in Brunswick. This property is open to the public and has fantastic water access; not only can you enjoy the view of the New Meadows River from land, but you can paddle around the point as well.The Portland Press Herald’s Michael Perry recently wrote about a November paddle around Woodward Point complete with tips and tricks on how to maximize your time on the water.

We basked in the mid-morning sun and gazed down the New Meadows River toward the brilliant yellows of maples and golden browns of oaks at the end of Foster Point. We heard the voices of a couple coming down through the woods to the shore. The husband summed up the spot perfectly, “a good place to bring a picnic.”

The preserve is a recent collaboration of Maine Coast Heritage Trust and the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, made possible by the generosity of the Cook-Ellis family who farmed the property for many years. Nearly two miles of clearly marked trails meander through green meadows and through pine, hemlock and oak forests. It seemed odd walking through a preserve with the call of chickadees, blue jays and crows mixing with the sound of gulls. One of the meadow trails swings by a picturesque farm pond displaying artistic reflections of the pines bordering the pond. The white flowers of yarrow mixed with the yellow of dandelions and purple of clover. We even found a few strawberry blossoms. Was it really November?

To read the rest of the recent article in the Portland Press Herald, click here.

BTLT in the News, “Land trusts celebrate the opening of Brunswick’s Woodward Point”

Land trusts celebrate the opening of Brunswick’s Woodward Point

By Hannah LaClaire

September 30, 2019

Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust and Maine Coast Heritage Trust celebrated the opening of Woodward Point Preserve on Saturday, September 28th. This new preserve is now open to the public, boasting 87 acres of forests, fields, meadows, and over two miles of shoreline along two peninsulas on the New Meadows River in Brunswick.

Countless porcupines, bobolinks, shellfish and butterflies have enjoyed Brunswick’s Woodward Point for years, and now the town’s human residents can enjoy the area’s natural beauty as well.

More than 100 people turned out to explore the 87 acres of sprawling meadows, forested trails and rocky coastline to help the Maine Coast Heritage Trust and the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust officially open the preserve and celebrate the culmination of a two-year effort to conserve the parcel.

The trusts raised $3.5 million to purchase the land and provide for its long-term management as a public preserve, including $150,000 from Brunswick in January, a $400,000 grant from the state’s Land for Maine’s Future Program, and $570,000 from a federal Coastal Wetlands grant.

That access to has been touted as one of the particular benefits of the property. While Brunswick’s coastline isn’t exactly composed of white sandy beaches, the land trusts hope the preserve will be a place where families can come swim, kayak, fish and enjoy the water, said Caitlin Gerber, a land steward for the Maine Coast Heritage Trust.The land includes roughly 1.5 miles of trails and more than 2 miles of shore frontage on the New Meadows River and Woodward Cove that features four places with water access. Dogs are allowed in the preserve and must be leashed.

To read the rest of the recent article in the Portland Press Herald, click here.

BTLT in the News, “Land trust to celebrate 25 years of conservation at Crystal Spring Farm, 20 years of farmers’ market with festival”

Land trust to celebrate 25 years of conservation at Crystal Spring Farm, 20 years of farmers’ market with festival

By Hannah LaClaire

September 6, 2019

Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust celebrated the 25th anniversary of the conservation of Crystal Spring Farm and the 20th anniversary of the BTLT Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm this past weekend with a festival on the Market Green at Crystal Spring Farm.

Twenty-five years ago, the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust stepped in to keep Crystal Spring Farm, a property they say has been at the heart of the Brunswick farming community for generations, from becoming a large housing development.

The property, now 320 acres of conserved land, was purchased in two pieces, according to Angela Twitchell, land trust executive director. The first 160 acres were purchased in 1994 for about $700,000, and then between 2004 and 2008, the trust raised another $2.7 million to buy the other 160 acres and renovate the existing farm buildings.

To celebrate community and conservation over the last quarter-century, the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust is hosting a festival on Sunday afternoon with live music, locally sourced food and even a special basil-infused beer released in collaboration with the land trust and Flight Deck Brewing.

To read the rest of the story, click here.