By Lydia Coburn
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.
A 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!