Crystal Spring Farm
Crystal Spring Farm (CSF), on Pleasant Hill Road in Brunswick, was acquired by the Land Trust in stages starting in the mid 1990s. Over two capital campaigns, the community came together to envision and support a community-based future for the farm. At 321 acres, it is the Land Trust’s largest owned property.
The farm reflects many core aspects of the Land Trust’s mission including conserving land while also promoting local agriculture and supporting diverse community needs. Located only 1.5 miles from busy downtown Brunswick, the property is a very visible working farm valued by the community for its many resources and the important sense of place that it provides the town. The farm is home to rare habitat, protects groundwater in a significant aquifer and waters flowing into Maquoit Bay. It also played an important historic role in the region as a dairy that collected milk from surrounding farms, and, for a time, made Dee’s Ice Cream.
The Farm is home to many of the Land Trust’s core community programs. Read more about these below.
Saturday Farmers’ Market
The Saturday Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm is one of the Land Trust’s most loved community programs. Since its establishment in 1999, the Market has grown into one of Maine’s most successful markets.
Every Saturday morning from May to November, the Farmers’ Market Green at CSF becomes a hub of local food, music, and community celebration. The Market was voted best farmers’ market in Maine in the spring 2013 edition of Yankee Magazine and in the June 2018 print of Down East Magazine. BTLT maintains a diverse mix vendors who provide locally produced foods and products to maximize the market’s appeal, while also providing music and an atmosphere that encourages community interaction. Vendor fees are designed to cover only the market’s direct expenses, providing a very low cost retail outlet for the forty vendors. More than 2,500 people typically attend the market each week during peak months, benefiting small farmers, local food vendors, and craftsmen and women, and keeping food dollars within the greater Brunswick area economy.
Tom Settlemire Community Garden
Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust established the Tom Settlemire Community Garden (TSCG) in the spring of 2012. TSCG offers a variety of gardening and volunteer opportunities for the public on some of the most fertile agricultural soils in the region, andbrings together gardeners – young and old, experienced and novice – in a true community effort.
Plotholders come together with other volunteers to maintain the garden and grow food in the Common Good Garden for Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program (MCHPP).
As part of our Community Gardening program, each year we offer the Taking Root Plant Sale, a series of educational Winter Garden Workshops, and host diverse groups for educational and community service events. Demonstration plots and a small orchard provide educational opportunities with a special emphasis on encouraging intergenerational learning about gardening.
The trails at CSF are a wonderful community asset located just a a short distance from the hustle and bustle of downtown Brunswick. The 5 miles of trails provide quiet respite in the natural world, winding through deep forest, along creeks, vernal pools, and active farmland, and pass through the unique Sandplain Grassland (see below).
Agricultural fields and the farm residence are leased, so please stay on trails, be respectful of leased areas, and park only in designated parking areas.
Directions to Crystal Spring Farm – South:277 Pleasant Hill Rd, Brunswick. Park in the gravel parking lot left of the tree-lined driveway. The residence and farm buildings are leased and not open to the public.
Directions to Crystal Spring Farm – North & Tom Settlemire Community Garden: End of Maurice Drive, Brunswick. At the end of Maurice Drive, turn left into Horizons nursing care facility, then immediately right into the small lot marked with a Land Trust sign. The trailhead is marked by a kiosk in the woods to the right when facing the Garden entrance gate .
Labyrinth in the Woods
Labyrinth in the Woodsprovides opportunities for meditation and spiritual practice in a natural setting and was created in partnership with First Parish Church, UCC (FPC). It is open to all people. The Labyrinth honors Susan Fitzgerald who was a dedicated leader at FPC and member of the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust. Susan cared deeply about connecting people to the land and saw the labyrinth in a natural setting as an important way to do this.
The ancient practice of walking a labyrinth has been known to nearly all cultures and religions around the globe. Many find that following a path to the center stills the mind and opens the heart. Some walk labyrinths for relaxation. Some walk as a form of prayer. Still others walk as meditation to seek a deeper tranquility.
The Land Trust and FPC encourage visitors to find their own meaning in walking the Labyrinth. It can be meditation, prayer, relaxation, or simply a new way to interact with nature.
Please no dogs in the Labyrinth.
Little Bluestem – Blueberry Sandplain Grassland
Crystal Spring Farm is home to a rare natural community, called the “Little Bluestem – Blueberry Sandplain Grassland.” Once common along the northeastern coast, development and changing land uses have all but eliminated this unique biome. The Maine Natural Areas Program lists this habitat as “critically imperiled.”
The unique habitat is a product of geologic history and human actions. The sand and gravel deposited by melting glaciers at the end of the last ice age provides a level, well-drained base that acidic plants love. Both Native Americans and European settlers used fire deliberately as a way to maintain the area as grassland and promote blueberry production.
Poverty oatgrass, little bluestem, woodland sedge, northern blazing star, and blueberry are highly adapted to this place. This natural community often provides nesting habitat for several rare, ground nesting, grassland birds including the grasshopper sparrow and upland sandpiper, and habitat for a rare snake, the northern black racer.
The Land Trust owns only a portion of the sandplain. Adjacent privately-owned land is managed for commercial blueberry production. Please respect boundary markers and stay off adjacent agricultural land.
Community Solar at Crystal Spring Farm
In the spring of 2016, a 76 kilowatt (kW) community solar energy project was constructed at Crystal Spring Farm 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, consented the CSF Farmers subleasing one quarter of acre for the solar array.
The project has minimal impact on the agricultural use of land at Crystal Spring Farm as it was constructed in a way to allow cultivation or grazing under and around it.
The farmers that lease CSF get credit on their electric accounts for 44% of the energy produced by the solar array. The remainder of the output is credited to seven other accounts whose owners have formed a non-profit CSF Community Solar Association to manage the array. Their participation and financing support for CSF demonstrates how community solar arrays can help the economic viability of a farm like CSF.
This project also provides public awareness and education on how solar energy helps mitigate global warming.