Giving Tuesday – Match Challenge Announced

The Forest Through the Trees

Spindle Works Call for Art to Benefit the Land Trust


  • 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,, or interested artists can email Brian for an application at (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.


What is the Climate Smart Land Network?

As part of our Local Look at Our Changing Climate series, forester Si Balch will be presenting The Role of Forests Over Time at the Topsham Public Libary on April 26 at 6:30 pm.

Balch works with Manomet Center for Conservation Science developing their Climate Smart Landowner Network. Read more about this program below.

Practical forest climate adaptation measures from the Climate Smart Land Network, a program of Manomet, Inc.

Ice Graph

When the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere chart looks like this, you know that change is coming.

The Information

The science information being synthesized and distributed applies to all forest land. Manomet is now focusing on larger owners simply to affect as many acres as possible as soon as possible. Visit to see all our science bulletins and blogs.


The Climate Smart Land Network (CSLN) is an alliance of rural landowners and land managers that are working together to respond to the challenges posed by climate change. The program is structured to assist Network members in identifying and implementing pragmatic on-the-ground solutions that both meet their management goals and increase natural system resiliency to climate change.


The Climate Smart Land Network bridges the gap between climate science and on-the-ground application.  The Network already contains over 15.2 million acres of managed forest. The goal is to enroll 30 million acres in the program over the first four years.  The CSLN provides a simple and direct method of including climate change concerns in your management planning and demonstrating that your organization is proactively engaged in seeking climate solutions.

Who are the current members?

The Climate Smart Land Network is growing rapidly and currently includes 15.2 million acres across North America.

States with CSLN land highlighted in blue

States with CSLN land highlighted in blue

Our network members include:

  • Baskahegan Company
  • Hancock Timber Resource Group
  • D. Irving, Limited
  • Lyme Timber Company
  • New England Forestry Foundation
  • Resource Management Service
  • Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine
  • Acadian Timber Corp
  • LandVest Timberland Division


Farm to Fork Fondo – Volunteer Team Needed!

This year we are excited to welcome Wrenegade Sports to Crystal Spring Farm for their 2016 Farm to Fork Fondo bike ride on August 28.

There’s no better way to experience gorgeous landscapes, diverse local agriculture and farm to fork freshness than from the seat of your favorite bicycle.

~ One of “10 Must-Ride US Gran Fondos in 2016” – Gran Fondo Guide

This event is a wonderful mash-up of farm tour, bike riding, and excellent local food. The ride starts at Wolfes Neck Farm, and includes everything from a short kids “ramble” to a professional-level fondo ride of 90 miles out to Pineland Farm and back.

A key aid station is at our Crystal Spring Farm, where hundreds of riders will be stopping through the day. (This is where you come in!)

The organizers of the ride have made the generous program to reward exceptional volunteer teams by donating to the non-profit that they represent.

We are hoping to establish a small team of volunteers to provide rider support at Crystal Spring Farm on the morning (or afternoon) of the ride. The team would be at the aid station providing water and snacks, and talking to riders about the region and Crystal Spring Farm.

At the end of the day the riders will vote for their favorite team, and based on votes each team will get a portion of donated funds to be given to their non-profit.

DAY-2 660.JPGAs Wrenegade says: “It is widely known that the success of any endurance sports event can be credited to the dedication, creativity and enthusiasm of its volunteers. In order to truly show our appreciation for the hard work of our volunteers, we’ve created a competition that will give them a chance to win cash prizes for local farms and charitable organizations of their choosing.”

You can learn more about the volunteer effort at

If you would like to volunteer or establish a team, please contact Lee Cataldo or the BTLT office at (207)729-7694

A Local Look at Our Changing Climate

The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust and Cathance River Education Alliance are partnering on a yearlong program of lectures and field trips to share stories of understanding and hope in a changing climate. With the program, A Local Look at Our Changing Climate, the two local organizations hope to provide in simple terms some insight into how climate change is affecting mid-coast Maine.Long logo

“While there is a host of complex data, policies, and technologies that address global climate change,” says Cathance River Education Alliance Executive Director Matt Dubel, “this series will build community understanding of what change looks like right here, in our own back yards. And it will highlight what some people in the mid-coast region are doing to adapt and make a difference.” He adds that the series will also give people information about actions they can take to make the region more resilient in the face of change.

The goal of the series is to build community confidence that individuals can positively impact the future of coastal Maine in the face of a global issue.

“The resilience of our community depends on citizens who are informed and empowered,” says Lee Cataldo, Outreach & Education Coordinator at the Land Trust. “This series is an effort to encourage people with positive and constructive information.”

Lecture topics through the year include: research from backyard studies and citizen science; forest  changes and evolving forest management practices; shifting bird migration patterns; local seafood industry adaptations; and invasive forest insects. Fall topics will focus on sustainable energy and local food impacts and options.

This spring, Nat Wheelwright, Bowdoin Professor of Natural Sciences, will share his observations of changes in plant and animal populations in recent decades, even in our own backyards. From when flowers bloom to when woodcocks mate, Maine’s natural world is changing. Wheelwright will consider the implications of these changes and suggest how people can respond with positive actions.

Si Balch of Manomet Climate Smart Network will help differentiate speculation from what is actually known about Maine’s changing forest. He will offer information on what landowners can do to make their woodlands resilient in the face of predicted changes. The Land Trust is considering how best to manage its forested lands in the context of climate change, and is looking for student and citizen scientist volunteers to help gather data needed to make effective management decisions.

Citizen science is a way for people to better understand the health of local ecosystems, and add valuable data to regional and global databases. As more people examine natural phenomena, and record and share information, we gain understanding of the natural world. A growing number of scientific inquiries depend on contributions from ordinary people.

The Land Trust is partnering with Project Learning Tree to engage local students, community members, and forestry professionals in gathering data about changes in the forests at Crystal Spring Farm in Brunswick. The Forest Inventory Growth (FIG) training in May will teach participants to establish a permanent forest research plot, collect data that will help inform management decisions, and make the data available for long-term studies.

Seafood will be the topic in June. Our region stands in the midst of a fascinating paradox – the Gulf of Maine is the second fastest warming body of water in the world, but according to recent economic research, aquaculture – traditionally dependent on the Gulf’s rich, cold waters – is one of the top three industries for growth potential in our state.  Several films will illustrate how climate change impacts our fisheries and fishing communities. Dan Devereaux, Brunswick Marine Resource Officer & Harbormaster will talk about his decades of observations of change in our local shellfishing industries and innovative approaches to help keep the local shellfishing heritage intact and our local shellfishing communities vibrant.

Lectures will be held on the last Tuesday of most months at the Topsham Public Library in partnership with the Library. Outings associated with the lecture topics are planned for most months, including the day-long FIG training, a tour of the new municipal aquaculture demonstration beds in Brunswick, and a field trip to look at invasive forest insects. More events are being added regularly.

All of the lectures and events in the series are free (excepting a small fee for the day-long FIG training, and a $5 theater cost for the films) and open to everyone.

Bird by Bird, The Avian Population is Shrinking

This is an article by Nat Wheelwright, Bowdoin Professor of Natural Sciences and Chair of the Biology Department, who will be presenting the lecture Backyard Changes on Tuesday, March 29 at 6:30 at the Topsham Public Library, as part of our ongoing Local Look at Our Changing Climate series.

Forty-three years ago, when I reached what my grandfather imagined to be the eve of puberty, I was summoned to spend the weekend with him at his house in rural Connecticut.

I knew what to expect because my four older brothers had undergone the same rite of passage. The climax of the weekend would be the ceremonial presentation of a double-barreled shotgun, followed by sober instruction on firearm safety and general manliness. Next, my grandfather would take me on an excursion into the woods and we’d fire off a few rounds.

But when my turn came the ritual had changed. Instead of a gun, I was given a double-barreled pair of binoculars, and then my grandfather took me on my first bird walk.

I was bewildered. But within an hour my disappointment was forgotten, shoved aside by sheer awe at the sight of a redstart hovering in midair, the sound of a wood thrush’s flute music, the swoosh of chimney swifts rushing in formation overhead.

Out of the cacophony of the dawn chorus, my grandfather taught me to pick out the rhythm of a dropped ping-pong ball in the field sparrow’s song and the towhee’s exuberant “drink your tea!” By their silhouettes alone I learned to distinguish a phoebe and a kestrel.

That weekend my grandfather lifted the veil to a world that had not existed for me before.

I didn’t want our time together to end because I would have to go back to my family’s farm where, to the best of my knowledge, there were no birds.

Of course, back home in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, I found all the birds I’d been introduced to in Connecticut and many more, ambassadors of every color: electric-blue indigo buntings, blood-red scarlet tanagers, earth-toned veeries. I still remember the first blackburnian warbler I ever saw, his throat and cheeks so vividly orange, his face looked like it might burst into flames.

Spring and summer mornings thereafter, I’d wake up and listen to the birds singing in my backyard. If there was a sound I couldn’t recognize, I’d throw on a shirt and pair of pants, grab my binoculars, and track it down, something I still do today.

In his later years, my grandfather used to grumble that birds were becoming scarcer and scarcer.

It was tempting to write off his gloom as the natural tendency of the elderly to romanticize the past, or maybe just an old man’s deteriorating hearing and eyesight. But it was true that the whippoorwill that had kept me awake nights when I visited him as a boy had gone quiet, and the woods and fields of the Northeast felt emptier to me.

Earlier this summer, the National Audubon Society released a definitive study of population trends of North American birds, a monumental effort based on decades of Christmas bird counts and breeding bird surveys. The study confirms what my grandfather feared and what most of us now know. Birds that I used to see routinely growing up in New England – evening grosbeaks, eastern meadowlarks, northern bobwhites – are in free fall. The losses are mind-boggling.

Since my grandfather introduced me to birds just half a lifetime ago, once-common species have declined by as much as 80 percent due to the usual suspects: habitat loss, pesticides, introduced species, and climate change. The songs of tens of millions of birds have been silenced. It feels as if the lights are dimming.

In one sense, extinction is hugely overrated. The vast majority of animals and plants that disappear hardly leave a ripple in the pool of life. Species become rare, they disappear, yet ecosystems persist. In some cases biological communities are fundamentally altered because of the missing pieces, but most of the time the ecological effects of extinction of species like Bachman’s warbler or even ivory-billed woodpeckers are hardly measurable.

The true loss is spiritual and aesthetic, not functional or economic. Life would go on if every Shakespeare play and Beethoven sonata were destroyed, but to use the words of the Audubon report, our skies would be “a little quieter and the landscape a little drabber.”

Of course, we’ll always have CDs of bird song and DVDs of bird behavior to fall back on – a digital memory, as it were – but will that be enough?

I can see now that my grandfather’s rite of passage was really about connecting us with the land. It was about learning how to become intimate with our world’s signs, smells, sounds, textures and rhythms. It was about knowing where we are and who we are. How wonderful it would be to be able to pass that gift on to my own grandchildren.

Missing your garden? Winter Garden Workshops will build your skills, even if you’re not getting your hands dirty.

NEWS RELEASE January 4, 2016


Our  Tom Settlemire Community Garden (TSCG) does not let winter in Maine stand in the way of conversations about gardening. This year is no exception – the fifth annual Winter Gardening Workshop series begins this Sunday, January 10, from 2:00 – 3:30 pm at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at the corner of Pleasant and Union Streets in Brunswick.

The series is appropriate for gardeners of all levels including beginning and novice gardeners.  Workshops focus on organic gardening methods and cover a wide range of subjects. This year topics include growing vegetables in Maine, selecting native woody plants, growing small fruits, pruning techniques, and gardening without aches and pains.

You can see the full schedule below, or here: 

The series has been consistently popular, regularly attracting 70 to 100 people to each workshop.

Angela Twitchell, the Land Trust’s Executive Director, says of the workshops, “People just love this series. The consistent large audience shows a real hunger in the community for access to gardening expertise, and we are happy to be supporting this need in our community.  We continue to seek out creative, relevant topics that attract new participants, and have value for regular attendees.”

The first five workshops, held several Sundays January through March, are open to everyone with a suggested donation of $5.

As in the past, the final workshop on March 20nd is a fundraiser for the Community Garden.

At this year’s fundraiser, the Land Trust welcomes Tom Atwell, long-time garden columnist for the Portland Press Herald (PPH). He will be talking about some of his favorite old and new plants, and everything Maine-garden.

In a recent PPH article, Atwell wrote, “Cultivating your mind can be as rewarding and productive as cultivating your garden. Plus, what you learn at lectures and programs during the cold dark days ahead can make you a better gardener when the long, hot days of summer arrive.”

The fundraiser is $10, and tickets can be purchased online at

TSCG was started in 2012 by the Land Trust at Crystal Spring Farm to provide intergenerational organic gardening opportunities, provide locally grown food to alleviate hunger in the community, and offer experiential gardening education. Founded in 1985, the Land Trust has completed 40 projects preserving over 2,300 acres of vital natural areas and an array of community building programs such as TSCG Garden and Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm.


January 10 

Growing Vegetables in Maine

Linton Studdiford, Master Gardener

A discussion of vegetable growing in the Mid-Coast Area:  best varieties, when to plant, seed sources, winter growing inside, and more.

January 24

Selecting Native Woody Plants for Your Home

Justin Nichols, local ecological gardener and former horticulturist at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

Learn more about using native woody landscape plants, in particular, how to grow with an emphasis on insect and pollinator relationships.

January 31

Growing Small Fruits

David Handley, Vegetable and Small Fruit Specialist University of Maine Cooperative Extension

Discover some of the home gardener’s methods and secrets for growing small fruits: blueberries, strawberries and raspberries.

February 21

Gardening Without Aches and Pains

Ellen Gibson, Educator for the Maine AgrAbility Program of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension

A presentation on tools and techniques to help you garden while avoiding joint, muscle and back pain.

March 6

Basic Pruning Techniques

Tim Vail, Arborist

This will be a hands-on workshop (weather permitting). 

There will be demonstrations of various types of pruning cuts and discussion of how and when to prune herbaceous and woody plants

March 20 ~ Fundraiser


with Tom Atwell, Mr. Maine Garden Himself

~ A TSCG Fundraiser ~

Tom is the author of the Portland Press Herald’s Maine garden column since 2004. 

He will discuss what is new and exciting for the garden in 2016: new vegetable varieties, perennial and annual flower introductions as well as new and tried and true plants.

PPH: This winter, growers should cultivate their minds

This week the Portland Press Herald ran a great article about building your gardening skills all winter long. It featured our own Winter Garden Workshops – a series we hold as part of the educational component of the mission of our Tom Settlemire Community Garden (TSCG).

Also, this article is by Tom Atwood – who will be speaking at our March 20th workshop – an annual fundraiser for TSCG. You can learn more about the fundraiser and buy tickets at:

This winter, growers should cultivate their minds

Brush up your gardening skills with some of the many local offerings.



Cultivating your mind can be as rewarding and productive as cultivating your garden. Plus, what you learn at lectures and programs during the cold dark days ahead can make you a better gardener when the long, hot days of summer arrive.

Garden clubs, public gardens, land trusts, garden centers and other organizations bring in speakers to help their members grow, to attract new members and, in some cases, to make money. Whatever the reason, all give you an excuse to get out of the house.

The Brunswick Topsham Land Trust is offering a class at 2 p.m. Feb. 21 that I wish I had taken decades ago: “Gardening Without Aches and Pains” by Ellen Gibson of the Maine AgrAbility Program, jointly run by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Goodwill and Alpha One. It’ll be held at St. Paul’s Church in Brunswick.

Gibson said Maine AgrAbility has a federal grant to help workers in the farm, fishing and forestry industries prevent and overcome disabling injuries. She also presents a program called “Gardening Forever,” which advises gardeners to, among other things, stretch before gardening, vary tasks so they aren’t making the same motions for long periods of time, and build raised beds, about 36 inches high, that can be used by people in wheelchairs.

“I love giving that program,” she said, saying she will be speaking on the topic April 18 at Lakeside Garden Club in Bridgton and May 12 at Walnut Hill Garden Club in North Yarmouth. Gibson can be reached at

Other Brunswick Topsham Land Trust programs, all at 2 p.m. at St. Paul’s, include growing vegetables by Linton Studdiford, Master Gardener, on Jan. 10; native woody plants for your home by Justin Nichols, an ecological gardener and former horticulturist at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, on Jan. 24; growing small fruits by David Handley, extension educator, on Jan 31; basic pruning techniques by arborist Tim Vail on March 6; and me on old and new plants I like on March 20. The requested donation for most of the talks is $5.

Merryspring Nature Park in Camden ( has talks at noon most Tuesdays, and while not all of them are about gardening, they all involve nature and would interest gardeners. Admission is $5 for non-members.

Noah Perlut, an associate professor at the University of New England in Biddeford, will discuss gardens and wildlife as biological control on Feb. 16.

Perlut said the genesis of the program was when Eastern equine encephalitis, a mosquito-borne illness, was first confirmed in York County. To get rid of mosquitoes, the university staff proposed spraying. Since the campus is surrounded by water, that plan was rejected.

Instead, faculty and students added habitat for those birds and bats that prey on mosquitoes and put in plants, such as bee balm and citronella, that repel the bugs.

“A lot of the plantings were done in pots and put in high-traffic areas, and they become more effective when engaged and brushed upon,” Perlut said. “One Master Gardener came with an ingenious idea and planted cherry tomatoes in the center of the pots.” The idea was that the mosquito repellent plants would be touched more often when passersby picked tomatoes.

Other interesting-sounding topics coming up at Merryspring include cultivating mushrooms, with Jon Carver on Feb. 2; starting a garden from scratch, with Sharon Turner on March 8; learning about new plants, with Hammon Buck on March 15; and planting and pruning fruit trees, with Renae Moran on March 22.

McLaughlin Garden in South Paris ( and its affiliated Foothills Garden Club offer free programs at 4 p.m. Wednesdays (with free tea at 3:30 p.m.) beginning March 2, when Mark Silber, formerly with Hedgehog Hill Farm in Sumner, will speak on “From Seed to Harvest, from Harvest to Seed.” Other topics include Donna Anderson, McLaughlin executive director, on the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum on March 9; Edith Ellis on gardens of the Northwest on March 16; Peter Kukielski, formerly of the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden in New York City, “Rethinking the Rose Garden” on March 23; Jeff Dunlop on Siberian irises on March 30; and Gary Fish of the Maine Board of Pesticide Control on yardscaping on April 6.

The state’s garden clubs offer many programs. Among the busiest is the Belfast Garden Club, which is offering a very interesting talk, “Gardening in Tune with Nature,”on Feb. 23. The instructors are Reeser Manley and Marjorie Peronto, and the class begins at 6:30 p.m. Find the full list of talks at

St. Mary’s Garden Club at the Episcopal Church of St. Mary, 43 Foreside Road, Falmouth, will offer Kyle Fletcher Baker of Plainview Farms on seed-starting at 11 a.m. Jan. 11, just as you will be starting some of your seeds for 2016. The fee is $5 for non-members.

Plant societies also have good programs. The Maine Iris Society will present Jan Sacks of the Joe Pye Weed Garden in Massachusetts on species iris at 1:30 p.m. March 13 at Woodfords Church, 202 Woodford St., Portland, and will have flower show judges talk about making arrangements with irises on April 9 at the Methodist Church on Park Avenue in Auburn.

The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association ( will hold classes on growing your own organic garden in adult education programs all around the state. The classes are planned for 6 to 9 p.m. April 6, for a fee of $5, but schedules and costs may vary so check the website for the program nearest you.

MOFGA’s seed swap and scion exchange, free and open to the public, will be 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 20 at its headquarters in Unity. In addition, the group has two classroom spaces booked throughout the day at the Agriculture Trades Show in Augusta on Jan. 12.

The Agriculture Show – although not the MOFGA part of it, extends Jan. 12-14, and other organizations put on many informative programs during the show.

Also drop by your local garden center. Most have been so busy through the Christmas season that they haven’t yet set up their schedules for January through March, but they will soon.

I know this list is daunting. But my purpose is to keep you from curling up on the couch with books and catalogs and slowly getting a case of cabin fever.

Get out and meet some fellow gardeners and learn something. April will get here soon.

Tom Atwell has been writing the Maine Gardener column since 2004. He is a freelance writer gardening in Cape Elizabeth and can be contacted at 767-2297 or

Michael Rozine on Sustainable Food

Sustainable Food: Healthy, Green, Fair, Affordable. Can we have it all and scale it up?

Michael Rozyne, Bowdoin class of 1978, and co-founder of Red Tomato will be in Brunswick on Wednesday, October 21 to give a talk at Bowdoin’s Kresge Auditorium at 7:30 called “Sustainable Food~ Healthy, Green, Fair, Affordable: Can we Have it All and Scale it Up?”

This event is open to the public free of charge.

Michael Rozyne will share his story and experience growing two social venture food businesses – Equal Exchange and Red Tomato.

He will describe the current local and sustainable food movement in the U.S., the issues, challenges, and obstacles that must be overcome to scale up this movement, and how innovation, technology, and collaboration might come into play.

Michael is executive director of Red Tomato, a non-profit business connecting farmers to consumers, relying on wholesale distribution to deliver farm products to local grocery stores.

Previously Rozyne co-founded Equal Exchange, a cooperative business that trades food in a way that empowers both farmers and consumers.

Environmental_Studies_Lecture_Poster_2015_Rozyne_final_1 2