Happy Earth Month!

Regardless of age, interest, or background, we all engage with our natural world. Earth Month is a great opportunity to identify your favorite ways of interacting with the environment, and find big or small ways to make a difference! Here’s a few ideas:

> Join us for our Coastal Clean Up with Merepoint Oyster Company on Saturday April 20th or head out on your own or with friends/family to pick up trash at local riverbanks, parks, trails, and community areas.

> Have kiddos? Visit the Ecology Center on any Sunday from 12:00-2:00pm! Nicknamed “The Building That Teaches,” the Center has lots of features that make it eco-friendly like solar panels, a wind turbine, LED lighting, a low-emission biomass wood pellet stove, and more. Plus there’s activities, books, and all sorts of curiosities for all ages to explore.

> Support your local farmers, bakers, and makers. The BTLT Farmers’ Market season kicks off at Crystal Spring Farm on Saturday May 4th. Not only will you be supporting growers in your area, but buying local cuts out fossil-fuel intensive transport by air, land and sea.

> Grow your own native plants, produce, and/or flowers. Get your gardening started this season at the BTLT Taking Root Plant Sale on June 1st at the Tom Settlemire Community Garden. At the Sale you’ll find an array of perennials, biennials, herbs, vegetable seedlings, annual seedlings, and much more.

> Learn more about Brunswick’s Climate Action Plan and/or Topsham’s Climate Action Plan and see how you can get involved.

> Doing some spring cleaning? Check out GoGo Refill for all your sustainable cleaning product needs. And if you’re going through some unwanted items, try hosting a neighborhood clothing or toy swap to keep things out of the landfill.

Thank You Volunteers!

Land Trust Has Opportunity to Conserve Final Piece of Historic Farmland Property

We are so excited to announce that we have entered an agreement to acquire 25 acres on Pleasant Hill Road, one of Brunswick’s most viewed and beloved rural landscapes. This past winter, a local resident acquired the house, iconic barn, and surrounding land at 262 Pleasant Hill Road, directly across the road from BTLT’s Saturday Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm. This resident approached BTLT, extending an invitation to conserve this local landmark and granting the Land Trust two years to raise the necessary funds for this acquisition, plus the renovations necessary to meet BTLT’s expanding program needs – between $3.0 and $3.5 million. This effort will be a significant piece of BTLT’s coming comprehensive campaign.

Newly appointed Executive Director Steve Walker heralded, “this moment stands as an exhilarating juncture for our organization, presenting an extraordinary chance to unite the community in a shared commitment to conservation, agriculture, and environmental education.”

 

This significant conservation opportunity comes at an auspicious time, as 2025 marks the Land Trust’s 40th anniversary and this year being the 25th anniversary of BTLT’s cherished Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm. In conserving this parcel, BTLT will reunite this final piece of the original 347-acre Dionne Farm, which historically encompassed what is now known as Crystal Spring Farm. At the same time, it preserves this 25-acre centerpiece of Brunswick’s Pleasant Hill Road gateway – including the renowned cupola housing the clock from Brunswick’s former town hall.

Volunteer Tom Settlemire at the BTLT Saturday Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm

This project provides BTLT with a pathway for additional land conservation and habitat preservation. It also opens up the potential for moving the Farmers’ Market, improving access and parking, and building an associated community gathering venue for Farmers’ Market patrons; expanding summer day camp and other youth offerings; and meeting both BTLT’s and the public’s need for event space and educational programming. Additionally, it offers the chance for enhanced operational effectiveness by providing office and meeting space.

In the words of Tom Settlemire, then Vice President of BTLT’s Board, expressed upon the culmination of the previous Crystal Spring Farm campaign thirty years ago, “the preservation of this expansive and beautiful farm, so close to the center of town, is a unique gift to the people of this area… one that most certainly will become even more valued by each succeeding generation.”

Just as in 1994, the realization of BTLT’s vision depends on the support of the community that has cherished Crystal Spring Farm’s offerings over the past three decades. In the coming months, the Land Trust will launch a comprehensive campaign aimed at not only securing the rich recreational, agricultural, and educational potential of this property for the public and for future generations, but also growing into the full potential of BTLT’s successful merger last year with Cathance River Education Alliance.

Settlemire, still a BTLT board member, presently reflects, “Our effort to bring the last piece of Crystal Spring Farm back together will complete a vision only dreamed about some 30 years ago. The combination of working agriculture, plant and wildlife protection, community gardens, environmental education, trails, and a labyrinth is more than we could imagine. Now let’s work together to make it happen.”

Spring Birding Extravaganza 2024 Line-Up

One of the joys of spring is the return of birds of all shapes, sizes and colors. Who doesn’t love stepping outside to a chorus of birdsong or catching a glimpse of bright red or yellow in the trees? The new warmth of spring and the longer days draw birds to make their spring migration. The window of time before the leaves come out provides a perfect opportunity to get a good look at our feathered neighbors. To help you identify and learn more about our local birds, several conservation groups collaborate each spring to offer the Birding Extravaganza! Our fellow partnering organizations: Harpswell Heritage Land Trust and Kennebec Estuary Land Trust. Check out the full 2024 line-up below!

Have some kiddos at home? Come to the Ecology Center from 12-2 on Sundays to make a binocular craft! The Ecology Center will be open on Sundays for visitors to make a set of toilet paper tube binoculars. You can also get an up close look at our bird mounts, including song birds and raptors before you try to find them in the field.

 

May 5th, 8:00am – Curtis Farm Bird Walk

Location: Harpswell | Led by Derek Lovitch | Hosted by HHLT

To learn more and register, click here. 

 

May 11th, 8:30am – Beginner Birder: An Introduction to Birding Apps

Location: Bath | Led by Anna Carnicella | Hosted by KELT

To learn more & to register, click here.

 

May 15th, 7:30am – Crystal Spring Farm Bird Walk

Location: Brunswick | Led by Jan Pierson | Hosted by BTLT

To learn more & to register, click here.

 

May 18th, 8:00am – Otter Brook Bird Walk

Location: Harpswell | Led by Nat Wheelwright | Hosted by HHLT

To learn more & to register, click here.

 

May 19th, 8:00am – Birding Tour

Location: Harpswell | Led by Nat Wheelwright | Hosted by HHLT

To learn more & to register, click here.

 

May 31st, 9:00am – Birding Walk

Location: Westport Island | Led by Jane Harrison and Kit Pfeiffer | Hosted by KELT

To learn more & to register, click here.

 

Farmers’ Market Opens May 4th

If this video doesn’t get you hyped for the 2024 Market season, we don’t know what will! We are beyond excited for our 25th(!) year of running the Saturday Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm and can’t wait to see you all on May 4th 🥕 Click here to see what vendors we’ll be hosting this year.

The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust’s Farmers’ Market was established in 1999 to advance the Land Trust’s mission of supporting local agriculture. Located on Crystal Spring Farm, a 331-acre property owned by the Land Trust, the Market is now one of the largest in Maine. With over thirty vendors, many of whom have been with the Market since its inception, the Saturday morning Market offers an exceptional variety of local, fresh products including vegetables, fruits, seedlings, dairy, meat, seafood, cut flowers, mushrooms, baked goods, and artisanal and prepared foods.

The Market has been widely acclaimed not only for the exceptional array of products but also for the festive and community atmosphere. We often host live music, educational demonstrations, and a kids activity table. 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.

Everything we do – from offering a place for farmers to sell their produce, to protecting working land and public access on a beautiful farm like Crystal Spring – is made possible by members of the Land Trust. Consider joining as a member today!

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Help Stop Invasive Species during National Invasive Species Awareness Week

Maine Forest Service

For Immediate Release
February 23, 2024

Media contact: Jim Britt

Help Stop Invasive Species during National Invasive Species Awareness Week — February 26 – March 3, 2024

Augusta, Maine – National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW) is being observed from February 26 to March 3, 2024. This annual event aims to educate the public about the threats posed by invasive species and encourages collective action to mitigate their spread.

Here are ten ways individuals can contribute to slowing or preventing the spread of invasive species in Maine:

  • Identify Emerald Ash Borer Signs: Learn to recognize emerald ash borer infestation signs, particularly during winter when “blonding” on ash trees is noticeable. Report findings using the EAB Report Form.
  • Identify and Remove Invasive Plants: Familiarize yourself with invasive plants like Japanese stiltgrass and vine and volunteer with local land trusts or conservation commissions to remove them from public lands using resources like the Maine Invasive Plant Field Guide.
  • Report Tree of heaven Sightings: Be vigilant for the Tree of heaven, which hosts the invasive spotted lanternfly. Report sightings to mnap@maine.gov.
  • Combat Browntail Moth: Check hardwood trees and shrubs for browntail moth winter webs and eliminate them before caterpillars become active.
  • Prevent the Spread of Invasive Earthworms: Take measures to prevent the spread of invasive earthworms, which disrupt forest soils, by avoiding the movement of plants, soil, mulch, or leaves.
  • Use Local Firewood: When camping, avoid transporting firewood to prevent the spread of invasive pests. Purchase firewood locally.
  • Practice Play Clean Go: Clean hiking gear, boats, and other equipment to prevent invasive species from spreading to new locations.
  • Follow Clean, Drain, Dry: Protect waterways by cleaning, draining, and drying boats and equipment after use. Consider joining organizations like Lake Stewards of Maine for additional involvement.
  • Avoid Releasing Exotic Pets: Refrain from releasing aquarium fish, plants, live bait, or exotic animals into the wild. Research and commit to proper care if owning exotic pets.
  • Raise Awareness: Spread awareness about invasive species and encourage others to participate in NISAW and related initiatives.

Resources for further engagement include:

By taking collective action and raising awareness, individuals can contribute to protecting Maine’s natural resources from the threats posed by invasive species.

Don’t Bug Out: Invasive Jumping Worms 101

Worms are on the mind of many gardeners in our community these days, and not just any worm, the invasive jumping worm (Amynthas agrestis). They’re popping up in gardens, lawns, farms, and forests across our region. New the jumping worm conversation? Here’s the scoop. 

How long have they been here, where are they, and how are they spreading?

  • Invasive jumping worms have been reported in Maine since 2017 and the greater Brunswick area since 2021.
  • They reproduce rapidly and their eggs are extremely small, making them the perfect unintentional hitchhiker, further enabling their spread.
  • They are now considered widespread and are being found all over our region and throughout the state.
  • Want to learn how to identify them? CLICK HERE for a helpful video. 

Why are they an issue?

  • They pose a threat to other soil organisms by eating much of the organic material that other organisms would normally be feeding on.  
  • They disrupt soil structure, especially the upper layers, and the organic matter content of the soil. This soil disruption can have serious impacts on our gardens, lawns, and forest ecosystems, specifically disrupting the growth of native plants and trees. 
  • Currently, there are no easy ways to get rid of them, but there is on-going, extensive research taking place all over the country. Even though they are widespread across the state, it is still important to reduce their spread and focus on keeping them out of forest ecosystems. 

This past season, jumping worms were discovered at the Tom Settlemire Community Garden. While this is disappointing, it is not surprising, given that they were found in the Brunswick area in 2021. After a confirmation from the Maine state Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry that the worms at TSCG were the Amynthas jumping worm, the Land Trust formed the Worm Task Force to focus on mitigating worm spread, monitor other BTLT properties, and educating our community. The Worm Task Force has been busy digging into research, creating new protocols for TSCG, and ensuring we will be following all best practices for our Annual Taking Root Plant Sale.   

What’s BTLT doing now?

At the Tom Settlemire Community Garden, we are moving forward with some new protocols for worm mitigation. If you are visiting TSCG or volunteering in the Garden this season, please make sure you adhere to the following procedures to help reduce the spread of jumping worms in our community:  

  • You must use the boot brushes located at the Garden entrances for your shoes both before entering TSCG and before leaving.  
  • Garden tools must be cleaned at the tool cleaning station. Any garden tools brought into the garden must be cleaned before use in TSCG and before leaving TSCG.  
  • Please dispose of any jumping worms properly, please check with the Garden Coordinator.  

Earlier this month, as part of our Growing Literacy: Winter Garden Workshop series with Curtis Memorial Library and Growing to Give, we hosted a ‘Jumping Worms 101’ workshop. About 95 folks joined us to hear from Gary Fish, the Maine State Horticulturist, about how to best manage these worms in Maine. His biggest words of advice? Don’t panic! If you missed the workshop, you can watch the recording HERE and view the slideshow presentation HERE.

More information about the jumping worms from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry website 

What YOU Can Do

Don’t panic – while it can be upsetting to find an invasive species, researchers are currently working on learning more about this species and hopefully there will be controls for them down the road. Do not try to manage the worms with chemicals or products not labeled for that purpose. Currently, there are no pesticides or approved methods to manage jumping worms. Using products without this use explicitly included on the label is illegal.  

Remove and destroy any adult jumping worms if you see them – this can be done by dropping them into a bucket of soapy water or sealing them in a plastic bag.   

Help to prevent their spread – Unfortunately, there are currently no curative management options available for property owners and managers dealing with existing jumping worm infestations. There are no pesticides labeled for earthworm management in the United States, so no products can be legally used for this purpose. Therefore, prevention is essential. Some preventative measures that concerned citizens can utilize include but are not limited to:   

  • Learn how to recognize jumping worms and teach your family, friends, colleagues, etc.    
  • Look for jumping worm adults and their grainy, dried coffee ground-like castings. Not seeing the adults on the substrate surface, but have reason to believe they may be there? Try mixing a gallon of water and 1/3 cup of ground yellow mustard seed and pouring that slowly over the soil/area with suspicious castings. If present in that location, the worms will be irritated (not killed) and brought to the surface where they can be collected for identification.
  • Do not purchase worms advertised as jumping worms, snake worms, Alabama jumpers, or crazy worms for any purpose (ex. composting or fishing baits).    

Anglers: never dispose of unused fishing baits into the environment. Always throw away unwanted bait worms in the trash.  

Gardeners: look for evidence of jumping worms in soil, compost, mulch, potted plants, etc. If you see coffee ground-like castings in these materials or notice jumping worm adults, report them. Do not move materials known to contain jumping worms to new locations.    

Composters: heat materials to the appropriate temperatures and duration following protocols that reduce pathogens. Recent research suggests that heating the cocoons of jumping worms to somewhere around 104°F for 3 days will kill the egg-containing cocoons.    

Click here for a helpful info sheet for homeowners.

The BTLT Worm Task Force will continue to develop strategies for gardening alongside the worms as we explore ways to reduce worm populations in TSCG and beyond. We encourage you to share this post with others to help educate our community! 

BTLT Attends Maine Federation of Farmers Market Conference

This month, Jamie and Julia, BTLT’s Agriculture Programs Team, attended the Maine Federation of Farmers Markets annual conference in Waterville. Jamie and Julia spoke on a panel alongside two other Markets about the different types of market governance models. Julia also gave a presentation about the BTLT Farmers’ Market’s  successful Power of Produce kids program, POP Club. They are bringing lots of enthusiasm, inspiration, and ideas back with them from the conference and can’t wait for the BTLT Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm to start in May!

 

High Water at Androscoggin Woods

Like many communities, the Land Trust is still taking stock after the recent string of storms that brought high water, winds, and heavy rain to assess the damage to our trails, infrastructure, and properties. Board member Jan Smith captured the unbelievable flooding that occurred during the late December 2023 storm along the Androscoggin River and at the Land Trust’s Androscoggin Woods property, with high water levels that flooded the majority of the trail system and even the parking area! Thankfully the property had already been closed for the winter, so there were no cars or visitors who were impacted by the flooding. See for yourself in Jan’s photos below, taken by drone the day after the storm, and for an extended view, footage from his drone flight over the property.
With plenty of winter storms still ahead, this spring staff and volunteers will be working hard to address damage caused by flooding, downed trees, and high winds on our trails to ensure that they are safe and enjoyable for another season of use. If you would like to help by joining our trail crew, please contact info@btlt.org!

Jan Smith

Jan Smith

Jan Smith

 

Thank you for supporting our mission!

We are grateful to all of our Members and Partners who have renewed their support of BTLT thus far this fiscal year! 

As we wrap up our 2023 giving season, it is clear that you continue to value the work of the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust and the Cathance River Education Alliance (CREA) and that you recognize it is only with your support that we are able to accomplish our critical conservation, environmental education, stewardship, and community engagement work. Thank you. Since the beginning of FY2024 on July 1, we have welcomed 180 new Community Members and 20 new Community Partners (gifts of $1,000 or more). We also welcomed back 547 renewing Community Members and 59 renewing Community Partners, putting us close to our mid-year goals. The support of our business community remains strong as well, with a total of 26 Business Members and 18 Business Partners as of December 31st. We still have work to do, of course, to meet our fiscal year-end financial goals by June 30th, but thanks to you we are off to a solid start.

Your generous and steady support enables us to focus on our primary goal this year of “merging well” with CREA, taking care to integrate our programs and operations as seamlessly as possible. We are also preparing for CREA summer camp (lottery opens February 1st!); the coming growing season at the Tom Settlemire Community Garden; offering our Winter Garden Workshop series; planning for the coming stewardship season, including the completion of box steps leading to our new bridge at Cathance River Nature Preserve; pursuing lands projects in key focus areas like Maquoit and Middle Bays and the Cathance and Androscoggin River watersheds; corresponding with vendors as we look forward to the 2024 Farmers’ Market season; and settling on our summer programs, including stewardship walks, the Taking Root Plant Sale, and so much more. 

Thank you for helping to make all of this — and so much more — possible. We are grateful.

Local resident, past BTLT board member, and current BTLT member Peter Simmons enjoying the trails at Crystal Spring Farm this winter