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For press releases only. Will show on front page under latest news. Only focus on what we want the media to follow.

Buy Bags for BTLT!

buythisbagWe have some very exciting news!

The Hannaford Supermarket located in Brunswick has chosen Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust as the latest beneficiary of the Hannaford Helps Reusable Bag Program!

This means for the entire month of November, every time anyone purchases the blue reusable bag with the good karma message at the Brunswick Hannaford, we receive $1!

This is truly a great opportunity for us and an easy way for you to show your support for the Land Trust!

Please go to the store, find the reusable bag rack and buy a few bags!

And remember to spread the word – the more bags purchased, the bigger donation to the Land Trust!


For more information about the Hannaford Helps Reusable Bag Program, visit hannaford.bags4mycause.com.

 

Botanical Explorer: Event Follow Up Information

Thank you to all of you who were able to attend the event with the Botanical Explorer. I know that I was inspired and went home with a lot of interesting ideas to contemplate!

Below are a few links I thought would be helpful. Perhaps the most important is the Review for Joseph.There is also information about a couple of food plants that can be grown in Maine, a great Maine seed saver that Joseph mentioned last night, and information about resources for growing rare seeds to collect and share in our community.

Finally, if you enjoyed the free program, please consider becoming a member of BTLT and CREA so we can continue to make these events possible.

————

Critique The Botanical Explorer
Visit www.greatgardenspeakers.comand post a review of last night’s presentation to help Joseph get to other communities like ours around the globe. Scroll down below his list of topics, and you will see Rate This Speaker in orange. It just takes a few moments and is an important way to say thank you!

Kajari Melon, Baker Creek Seeds
Remember this stunning beauty that Joseph mentioned might be a good candidate for growing in Maine? With a growing season as short at 70 days, maybe! Let’s try…
You can get seeds here: Baker Creek Seeds

Will Bonsall, Khadigar Farm
A great Mainer doing important work protecting the diversity in our food system. Through his Scatterseed Project, a great deal of  the seedstock of vegetables, legumes, small grains, and tree fruits, which we are able to grow in a cold Maine climate, are still able to be acquired because of Will. Read more HERE or watch the VIDEO. (Jo Josephson photo)

Sunchoke
Also known as the Jerusalem Artichoke, Helianthus tuberosus, is a North American native that grows well in Maine (some might say too well!). The tuber is harvested in the spring and has a mild flavor and texture like a potato. Read more about the sunchoke HERE and place an ORDER through Fedco.

Are you interested in growing rare and heirloom seeds for community?
Would you like to get involved in growing rare seeds and saving them for wider distribution? Get in touch! We have community garden space that could be perfect for this type of effort and we would love to help make it happen! Contact Lee Cataldo any time or call 729-7694.

Portland Press Herald: It’s Worth the Trip: Cathance River Preserve provides the perfect getaway

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OUTDOORS

It’s Worth the Trip: Cathance River Preserve provides the perfect getaway

A hike in Topsham is a splendid way to spend time in the fall.

In his forthcoming book “The Stranger in the Woods,” Michael Finkel tells the story of Christopher Knight, the hermit who lived undetected in the woods near North Pond for nearly three decades. Reading the book, I was struck most by how Knight managed to disappear so completely while living only yards from the cabins that ring the pond. He was so close to others, Finkel writes, that he couldn’t even sneeze for fear of drawing attention.

The book reminded me how easy it is to separate yourself from the hustle and bustle of other people in Maine, where thick wilderness is often only yards from well-traveled roads and populated areas. I got the same reminder this week while hiking in the Cathance River Nature Preserve in Topsham.

The 230-acre preserve, tucked between Interstate 295 and a retirement community, is a wonderful escape in a fairly developed stretch of the Midcoast.

Access is possible via two trailheads on Topsham’s Evergreen Circle, as well as a connector trail on the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust’s Cathance River Trail. To reach the main trailhead, enter the Highland Green development (marked by a large sign and white fencing) from Route 196 in Topsham. Follow the main road through the development for a mile and a half, passing the suburban retirement homes of the community, as well as a few holes on the nine-hole Highland Green Golf Club. Just beyond Junco Drive, you’ll see a wooden staircase and signs marking the entrance to the Cathance River Nature Preserve. Beside it are nine angled parking spaces for hikers.

The trails cover nearly six miles, winding through mixed hardwood forest alongside the Cathance River. Two longer main trails – the riverfront Cathance River Trail and upland Highland Trail – run in rough parallel for much of the length of the preserve, with a number of shorter yellow-blazed trails connecting the two. These short spurs mean that hikers can go from less than a mile to nearly six.

From the staircase alongside Evergreen Circle, it’s a short hike along a well-trod road to reach the Cathance River Education Alliance Ecology Center, the center of the preserve. Completed a decade ago, the center is described by the alliance as a “building that teaches,” with over a dozen green, sustainable features. It’s open every Sunday from noon to 2 p.m.

Turning left at the building, the development of Highland Green quickly fades away. After passing a large vernal pool just south of the ecology center, the Highland Trail slopes gently downward toward the northwest corner of the preserve. Here it meets the head of the Cathance River Trail. A sharp right puts hikers beside the Cathance River, which churns east toward the Androscoggin.

During spring runoff, there are challenging rapids for kayakers wishing to run the Cathance (and you can see these adventurers from the trail). But in this relatively dry fall, the river is but a picturesque trickle.

The trail runs alongside the river for about a mile, gently rising to scenic rock outcrops before falling back toward the riverbed. On the right, the Barnes Leap, Beaver and Rapids trails spurs connect back to the Highland Trail, giving weary hikers a chance to cut short their loop and head back toward the ecology center. Beyond the turn to the Rapids Trail, the Cathance River Trail leaves the riverside and reconnects with the Highland Trail.

From the trail junction, a right brings hikers back toward the trailhead, completing a loop. Following the white blazes to the left connects to the half-mile Ravine Trail. At the Clay Brook Bridge, the Preserve ends, though hikers can continue along a Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust trail, ending after two miles at a trailhead on Cathance Road.

In addition to this large network of trails, the Heath Trail (also part of the Cathance River Nature Preserve) circles the 30-acre Heath Sanctuary within Highland Green. The trailhead is on Evergreen Circle, opposite the hiker parking spaces.

Foliage is passing peak but vibrant colors still line the sides of the trail. Many of these colorful leaves have started to fall from the trees, so keep your eyes open for the many trail blazes – a carpet of fallen foliage can make spotting the rutted trails a challenge.

Don’t let the development at the Topsham Mall and Highland Green deceive you – there’s great fall hiking to be found nearby. With just a little effort, you can disappear into the calm and beauty of the Maine woods.

Josh Christie is a freelance writer living in Portland. Along with his brother, Jake, he writes about great Maine destinations for outdoors enthusiasts. Josh can be reached at:

joshua.j.christie@gmail.com

Stewardship

Click here to read a recent Time Record article about the Land Trust's stewardship efforts.

Click here to read a recent Time Record article about the Land Trust’s stewardship efforts.

Over the past three decades, Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust has conserved over 2,400 acres of the most productive and diverse lands in the region. Each conservation project comes with a deep and permanent responsibility to monitor and care for, or steward, the land forever.

With thousands of acres of farm, forest, and wetland, seventeen miles of trail, a Farmers’ Market, Community Garden, and Labyrinth to manage, the  Land Trust’s stewardship work is diverse.

The Land Trust is increasing efforts to engage the community in a variety of ways to build support for this stewardship work which is so vital to the future ecological, economic, and social health of the community.

“We have to maintain a very active presence on our conservation properties to ensure their values are maintained over time – for outdoor recreation, traditional land uses like farming and forestry, scenic views, plant and animal habitat, water quality protection, and much more,” says Land Trust Associate Director Caroline Eliot.

“Every land owner knows that things change over time.  Neighbors and surrounding land uses can change, and how the public uses our properties changes too.  Sometimes these changes bring challenges that require an immediate response. It’s important to demonstrate that we’re paying attention to every property we own or steward.”

The Land Trust’s stewardship program is strong and robust, and it continues to build on past successes, even as the demands of stewarding local lands increase for this small non-profit.

Since 2009, the number of properties managed by the Land Trust has more than doubled.

All of its fifty-two protected properties must be visited at least once a year for monitoring. This work is done primarily by volunteers, but training, coordinating, and supporting these dedicated stewards takes considerable effort.

Quite a few of the Land Trust’s conservation properties are privately–owned and protected from development by deed restrictions called ‘conservation easements.’  Easements identify the property’s special values, such as habitat, open space, scenic qualities, watershed protection, and others, then state which activities are allowed and which are not allowed so that the unique qualities of the place will last. The Land Trust must inspect easement properties annually to ensure the terms of the easement are being met. When issues are found, such as an activity that is not consistent with the intent or terms of the  easement, the staff must work with the landowner to resolve the issue. Most issues are inadvertent and result from misunderstanding or forgetting about specific easement terms.  The vast majority of issues are resolved amicably, but this work takes time. Similarly, like any other property, easement-protected land periodically changes owners – requiring an investment of time by the Land Trust in  establishing and maintaining a good relationship with the new owners, many of whom are unfamiliar with the responsibilities and limitations associated with conservation easements.

While easements require regular attention, in a typical year, it is the Land Trust’s public access properties that need the most care. As the region grows more popular, community members and visitors are increasingly aware of the many places the Land Trust makes available for recreation. As a result, trails are experiencing much higher levels of use. Many of the Land Trust’s seventeen miles of trail were built in the early 2000s. The infrastructure along these trails, and sometimes the trails themselves, now require replacement or major refurbishment.

“While we hope visitors see a trail that looks and feels like it needs little or no maintenance,” says Land Trust Executive Director Angela Twitchell, “In fact, keeping trails safe and beautiful requires constant effort – clearing blowdowns, clipping branches, protecting waterways from siltation, maintaining signs and blazes, and addressing issues such as unauthorized vehicles and uses.”

In the past, with fewer overall miles and much newer trails, trail maintenance was managed by a few volunteers – mostly Board Members of the Land Trust.  More recently, with trail maintenance needs growing and the public’s expectations of trail conditions increasing, the Land Trust has had to add dedicated stewardship staff and more actively recruit, train, and coordinate stewardship volunteers.

Eliot points to a new program as an example. “We started a trail monitoring program in 2015 and have a great crop of dedicated trail monitors who serve as our eyes and ears on the ground,” says Eliot.

“We also have a small but committed group of trail workers, mostly retired folks who love to be outdoors. They bring wonderful skills to our work, but we always need strong young volunteers to help as well. One of our biggest challenges is finding strong young people to help with moving materials such as stone and timbers into the trails.”

“In my opinion, the Land Trust’s trails are some of the most outstanding features of our community,” says volunteer trail steward Wayne Whitney.

He explains his dedication to the work in this way: “I spend hot, sometimes buggy summer days doing this work because I like being in the woods getting healthy physical exercise. I get to work with caring people who share a common vision, and I believe we’re doing something worthwhile. I want future generations to have the same opportunity – both to volunteer and to enjoy these trails.”

In recent years the growing need for regular trail maintenance and trail refurbishment due to increased foot traffic, in addition to opportunities to build new trails on recently protected properties has made an all-volunteer force infeasible.

“We need to have people who can respond immediately to an issue, for example, if there’s a safety issue on a trail or a high-impact, unauthorized use. And we need people who can put in long hours building or refurbishing major sections of trail,” says Eliot.

“We currently have between 1.2 and 1.4 FTE staff working in stewardship, including a summer intern and other seasonal paid stewardship help. We’ll need at least this much staff time for stewardship, though likely more, in the coming years.”

The Land Trust also dedicates staff time to community and youth education in an effort to build support for stewardship. “I believe engaging the public in the care of our community’s special places is a key part of stewardship, explains Land Trust Outreach and Education Coordinator Nikkilee Cataldo.

“We want everyone to have the opportunity to connect with nature, and caring for this public resource – our trails – is a particularly nice way to do this. We also want  to give children the opportunity to experience the wonder of the natural world. We want to cultivate in them at least a familiarity with, and hopefully  a deep connection to these lands. This connection should enhance their  personal wellbeing and help them  value the natural world so they’ll grow up to be engaged and compassionate community members.”

Toward that end, the Land Trust runs over fifty educational events each year, and established its Young Explorers program to get young families outdoors and familiar with the natural features of our region.

Looking to the future, stewardship work will consume a larger proportion of the Land Trust’s limited resources as the amount of conserved land grows and maintenance needs increase. To be prepared for these stewardship demands, the Land Trust is making a concerted effort to raise awareness of, and funds for, its all-important stewardship work. Its recently completed comprehensive capital campaign established the Land Trust’s first stewardship endowment, and the ongoing Raffle for Stewardship is helping the Land Trust raise funds for that endowment and engage community members in conversations about the need for ongoing stewardship support.

Each raffle ticket sold for the beautiful, locally hand-built Night Heron Kayak helps support the Land Trust’s stewardship program and is a great opportunity for supporters to win an amazing boat. The boat is on display each week at the Saturday Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm, and tickets can be purchased at www.btlt.org/kayak.

More than anything, the Land Trust wants community members to get out on its beautiful trails, enjoy its public programs, and understand the value of conserved lands (easements) that are not accessible to the public – such as working farms, secluded forested habitat, wetlands, and watershed land. All these lands make the community an amazing place to live and visit – adding incalculable additional value to the community. Stewarding the land is the ‘forever’ but often forgotten part of conservation. But Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust is working hard to raise the visibility of and support for this work.

Trail Steward Wayne Whitney sums up the effort in his own words, “My vision is that a century from now people will experience the same sense of well-being, happiness, and serenity I feel when using our trails.  That’s why stewardship is so important to me.”

Brunswick Outdoors is HERE

Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust is excited to announce the release of Brunswick Outdoors, a guide to the wealth of public parks, recreation areas, land trust preserves, and private conservation lands Brunswick offers residents and visitors. Many locations have trails or provide access to fresh and salt water that are open for respectful public use.

Created in partnership with the Brunswick Parks and Recreation Department, Brunswick Outdoors includes over 50 identified locations and brief descriptions that guide visitors to hiking, birding, boating, swimming, skating and other recreational resources. The map is free and available at Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust offices, the Land Trust’s Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm, Brunswick Parks and Recreation Center, and Brunswick Visitor Center. A PDF of Brunswick Outdoors can also be downloaded at www.btlt.org/brunswick-outdoors. It is our hope that Brunswick Outdoors will encourage local citizens and visitors to get outside and enjoy the incredible natural resources available to us in the Brunswick area.

Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, established in 1985, has conserved 50 properties totaling 2,500 acres and created much loved community resources including the Saturday Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm, Tom Settlemire Community Garden, and Labyrinth in the Woods. The Land Trust was one of the first in Maine to receive Land Trust Alliance accreditation, and has become a leader and innovator in developing diverse ways to strengthen the community through conservation, robust partnerships, and dedicated stewardship. To learn more or get involved, please visit us at www.btlt.org!

Thank you for another successful Plant Sale!

To all the generous and helpful Tom Settlemire Community Garden volunteers and community members who made donations that contributed to the fantastic success of the Fifth Annual TAKING ROOT PLANT SALE: Thank you! Thank you, one and all.

We were once again so fortunate to have a spectacular community building Taking Root Plant Sale…..initial accounting reveals at least $6,000 raised in support of this “community gem” (as one volunteer stated) the Tom Settlemire Community Garden!

So many generous folks contributed to make this success:

  • Bonnie Studdiford and Claudia Adams, co-chairs of the Taking Root Plant Sale Planning Team
  • All the committee chairs and their crews
  • Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program Staff
  • Master Gardeners
  • Plant donors/diggers/potters
  • Flyer/poster/banner distributors
  • Bake/book donors/volunteers
  • White Elephant/ volunteers
  • We Compost It!
  • Set up/break down crews
  • Label/sign makers
  • The Masons,particularly Frank Hilton.

And of course our loyal customers who came and bought……

We hope this sincere Thank You reaches everyone who helped. We’ve already begun planning next year’s sale and as always hope to improve it based on our experience and folk’s observations and suggestions.

Stay tuned and we hope you will again help with next year’s sale.

 

The Forest Through the Trees

Spindle Works Call for Art to Benefit the Land Trust

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  • What: Call for Art: The Forest Through the Trees
  • When:  Deadline for entry forms and fee is June 24th 2016; Opening July 15, 2016, 5-8pm exhibit runs July 1st-August 29th
  • Where: Frontier Café, 14 Maine Street, Brunswick 

Spindleworks will host an open call art exhibit to benefit the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, set for July and August in Brunswick Maine.

The exhibit, The Forest Through the Trees, is meant to draw attention to our living planet both to celebrate, and to raise awareness of the diversity of species, all of which are affected by our actions and inactions.

This year artists are invited to submit work in any medium, inspired by and focusing on plant life, which is meant to draw attention to the importance of plants in creating natural habitat for the world’s species.  We welcome diversity of artistic expression to reflect this huge part of our natural environment.

This will be the sixth exhibit in the series, which has drawn artists from across Maine and across the country.

This year we have chosen the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust to receive the funds raised.  We recognize the important role the Land Trust plays in protecting species in our local community. 30% from each sale will be donated to this important and well loved local organization.

Additionally we are seeking donated items for a silent auction benefit at the opening July 15th

***Entry forms and additional information will be accessible from the Spindleworks website, www.spindleworks.org, or interested artists can email Brian for an application at bbraley@iaofmaine.org (subject line: The Forest Through the Trees), or stop by Spindleworks to pick one up. Deadline for entry forms and fee is June 24th 2016      

Spindleworks is a non-profit art center for adults with disabilities and a program of the Independence Association of Brunswick Maine, whose mission is to help children and adults with disabilities achieve full and inclusive lives in their chosen community.  Gallery is open M-F 9-4 and artists are on site M-F 9-2.

 

Crystal Spring Farm: Harvesting the Sun

Solar Panel Array to be Constructed at Crystal Spring Farm

Solar_panels_with_sheep_in_BelgiumA 76 kilowatt (kW) community solar energy project will be constructed at Crystal Spring Farm this spring to generate electricity both for the farm and other project participants living in Brunswick.  We (the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust), who own the farm property, have consented to Crystal Spring Farm hosting this project, for the farm’s benefit. 

Crystal Spring Farm is collaborating with the Crystal Spring Farm Community Solar Association, a new non-profit corporation formed to manage the project.  The association includes Seth Kroeck and Maura Bannon, who have leased Crystal Spring Farm from the Land Trust since 2004, and the seven other participating Brunswick families.

The announcement was made today by Angela Twitchell, Executive Director of the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust and Steve Weems, President of the newly-formed association.

“This solar array will benefit the long-term agricultural success of Crystal Spring Farm by stabilizing and reducing the farm’s energy costs over a 30-40 year period,” said Seth Kroeck.

Crystal Spring Farm will have rights to 44% of the energy produced by the solar array, which will consist of 286 ground-mounted solar voltaic panels to be located near the entrance to Crystal Spring Farm.

The other seven member families of the Crystal Spring Farm Community Solar Association will divide the rights to the rest of the 100,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity to be generated per year.

The economies of scale to be achieved by the participation of the other members, combined with favorable financing of the farm’s portion of the project from the other members plus additional friends of the farm, ensures the economic viability of the project for Crystal Spring Farm, without any financial contribution from the land trust.

“Those of us in the Community Solar Association are honored to help Crystal Spring Farm realize its energy needs in a more sustainable and cost effective manner,” said Weems. He added:

“This project shows it is possible to combine support for local agriculture with the benefits of the community solar concept, to enable families and businesses who cannot install solar panels at their individual locations to participate in solar energy production through a joint project”.

The project is part of the Solarize Brunswick initiative and is being installed by ReVision Energy, which has made a commitment to support community solar initiatives.

The solar array will occupy a quarter of an acre of Crystal Spring Farm land and be constructed in a way that will allow cultivation or grazing all around it.

Crystal Spring Farm, located on Pleasant Hill Road, was acquired by the Land Trust over a period of years from 1994 through 2008.  Kroeck and Bannon have farmed it for the past dozen years. It is also the site of our Farmers’ Market, which is open from May to November, the Tom Settlemire Community Garden, and the recently-built Labyrinth in the Woods.  In addition, there are six miles of trails at Crystal Spring Farm that are open to the public.

“The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust believes this project can contribute to greater public awareness of the possibilities of solar electricity in mid-coast Maine,” said Brad Babson, President of the Land Trust Board of Directors.

The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust hopes to learn about the benefits of using solar-generated electricity to support sustainable agriculture and the role of community solar farm projects, and to share what it learns with its members and others in mid-coast Maine.  “At this time, we do not anticipate doing any other projects similar to this one on land owned by the Land Trust,” Babson said. “This 76 kW solar array is a demonstration project.”

BTLT wants to encourage greater understanding of the perils of global climate change and to help residents of the mid-coast understand what we can do to mitigate its effects.  The Land Trust is also sponsoring a lecture series on climate change this year in partnership with the Cathance River Education Alliance, called A Local Look at Climate Change Series.

Labyrinth in the Woods Grand Opening!

The Labyrinth in the Woods grand opening will be held Saturday May 14 (rain date, May 15) from 1:00 – 4:00 pm at the Labyrinth. Visit www.btlt.org/labyrinth-in-the-woods for directions and additional details about the Labyrinth.

In a unique community collaboration, the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust (Land Trust) and First Parish Church UCC of Brunswick (FPC), have built a labyrinth in a natural setting that is open to all. The Labyrinth in the Woods was built in honor of Susan Fitzgerald, founder of FPC’s labyrinth ministry. Located at Crystal Spring Farm, it provides an opportunity for meditation and spiritual practice in a tranquil forest just minutes from downtown Brunswick.

The partners are celebrating its grand opening and welcoming the public on the afternoon of May 14.

The ancient practice of walking a labyrinth has been known to nearly all cultures and religions around the globe. A labyrinth is not a maze.  Mazes have dead ends and are designed to confuse. Labyrinths offer a single path whose course winds back and forth within the bounds of a circle, ultimately leading to the center.

Many labyrinth walkers find that following a path to the center stills the mind and opens the heart. The Land Trust and FPC encourage visitors to find their own meaning in walking the Labyrinth. Labyrinth walking can be a form of meditation, prayer, relaxation, or simply a new way to interact with nature.

BTLT Executive Director, Angela Twitchell said, “The Labyrinth provides a great way to connect people of all faiths with nature.”

The project came about when FPC had a need for open, natural space and reached out to the Land Trust. For over a decade, the Reverend Mary Baard, Senior Pastor at FPC, and Susan Fitzgerald, the leader of FPC’s Labyrinth Ministry, dreamed of expanding their indoor labyrinth ministry by creating an outdoor labyrinth. For years they talked about possible sites, but couldn’t find space on the Church’s small grounds. At the same time, the Land Trust had been looking for ways to build connections with diverse community groups.

In 2014, Mary conceived the idea of building a labyrinth along the trails of Crystal Spring Farm, and leaders at Land Trust agreed that a labyrinth would be a unique new resource in the broader community.

FPC and the Land Trust created a planning committee to work out the details. FPC agreed to raise money for building the Labyrinth and getting the program established, and to act as the community contact for those who want a guided experience of the Labyrinth. The Land Trust would provide the site and ongoing maintenance.  Linkel Construction, a local company experienced in stonework, was hired to design and build the labyrinth.

Labyrinth in the Woods honors Susan Fitzgerald who was a dedicated leader at FPC and long-time member of the Land Trust.  Susan cared deeply about connecting people to the land.

The Labyrinth is located a short distance off the Garden Trail between the Tom Settlemire Community Garden and Main Loop trail at Crystal Spring Farm. Nestled in the woods, the 7-circuit labyrinth occupies a 50-foot diameter circle and is constructed of granite paving stones and natural mulch.  It is open to the public from dawn to dusk.