Posts

Stewardship Tour Series: Androscoggin Woods Grand Opening (1:00pm)


  • 1:00-2:30pm
    November 6, 2021
    1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Join us for the grand Opening of Androscoggin Woods in Topsham

New Crushed Stone Pathway on Vernal Pool Trail at CRNP

By George Jutras, BTLT Land Steward
The Land Trust’s stewardship team has been hard at work for the last few weeks finishing up a much-needed infrastructure project on the Vernal Pool Trail at Cathance River Nature Preserve! The Vernal Pool Trail connects Rensenbrink Dr to the Highland Trail near the CREA Ecology Center as it runs through forest, over ledge, and by some wetland areas. A long series of old rotten bog bridges were first removed with the help of two Bowdoin College student volunteer groups, then the surface was prepped for the construction of a 120 foot crushed stone pathway. A crushed stone pathway is preferable to bog bridging in this area primarily due to the longevity of the materials. Bog bridges in the soil type found at CRNP can be only expected to last 2-3 years, and the crushed stone pathway should last significantly longer.
The pathway required digging and smoothing of the muddy soil to create a stable surface to build on, then the laying out of a geotextile fabric to help hold the foundational layers together. Next, 6 to 12 inch rocks were carefully placed in a strong jigsaw pattern to hold the ever-shifting path as it lives through future seasons of freeze and thaw cycles. After several layers of this careful stonework (known as rip-rap), a few final layers of gravel were spread on top to fill in gaps and create a smooth walking surface.
A huge THANK YOU to our many incredible stewardship volunteers who truly carried this project – without you we wouldn’t be able to tackle these amazing infrastructure projects!

Stewardship Tour Series: Androscoggin Woods Grand Opening (11:00am)


  • 11am
    November 6, 2021
    11:00 am - 12:30 pm

Join us for the grand Opening of Androscoggin Woods in Topsham

Stewardship Tour Series: Invasive Plant Identification

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  • August 12, 2021
    5:30 pm - 6:30 pm

Interested in learning about some of the invasive species that have made a home for themselves among our native plants? Join George Jutras, BTLT Land Steward, to learn about the natural history of some invasive plants such as bittersweet, multiflora rose, honeysuckle, and Japanese barberry as well as the (more…)

Apogee Adventures Lends a Hand at the Tom Settlemire Community Garden

By George Jutras, BTLT Land Steward

This week, high school students on a program with Brunswick-based Apogee Adventures spent the afternoon volunteering in the Tom Settlemire Community Garden. Extra hands are always appreciated on garden projects! It was especially helpful to have twelve young students and their leaders help us with the groundwork for a new expansion of the water system at the garden.

David Brooks, of Brooks Hydro Logic, has been immensely helpful in volunteering his time to plan and construct much of the existing water system at the community garden, including this project expansion. With Dave’s direction and help, the Apogee students dug trenches and laid new pipes. They also levelled and packed a gravel foundation for a new water tank on the southern side of the garden. In addition, the students helped dig trenches for new connections to the wellhead near the garden entrance and for a hydrant at the northern garden boundary. It’s always a pleasure working with Apogee students and staff, and we appreciate their continuing partnership!

“Apogee offers outdoor adventure travel to teens and young adults. They provide students with well-designed hiking, biking, community service, writing, photography, and language programs to spectacular locations throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Caribbean.

They travel in small, supportive, co-ed groups led by dynamic, responsible, and well-trained leaders. In this nurturing and wholesome environment, students learn about themselves and others through physical challenge and volunteer work. Traveling by their own power, students will achieve new heights. Apogee’s primary goals are for students to have fun, form lasting friendships, and to develop strong values.

It’s Blueberry Season!

It’s once again blueberry season at Crystal Spring Farm. A portion of the farm on the south side of Pleasant Hill Road consists of a rare natural community of plants known as a sandplain grassland, which is ideal habitat for low-bush blueberries. It’s July, so the blueberries in the barren are ripening now!  

Please note that the Land Trust only owns a small section of the barren. The much larger adjacent property is leased and managed by Seth Kroeck, Crystal Spring’s farm manager, for the commercial sale of organic blueberries. Please do not pick beyond the Land Trust’s clearly marked property boundary. 

Kroeck described his growing process for us. “Growing blueberries is a two-year cycle. We prune the plants, either by mowing or burning, the spring after the harvest. The next year they regrow and it is on this new growth that they make flowers and then fruit. By dividing the field in two, each season we have one section of plants in regeneration and one ready to harvest.”  

BTLT undertakes a similar management practice, and this spring half of the section open to the public was burned to promote healthy growth of this unique habitat. Because of this, there will only be berries in the western section this year. 

  • . The boundary line is marked with metal stakes and signs, and the lone trees in the middle of the field mark part of the boundary. 

Kroeck also noted that “Bees for pollination are rented from Swan’s Honey in Albion. We truck them back and forth, loading in the evenings when the colonies are inside the hives. It takes 30 to 40 hives to pollinate this crop.” There are also a few ‘resident hives’ on the north side of Pleasant Hill Road that help to pollinate the blueberries when they are in flower.  

Mowing, bringing in hives to pollinate, harvesting, and processing are all labor and capital intensive for Kroeck and Crystal Spring Community Farm. But, blueberries have become one of the farms’ most important crops, and can be found in natural food and grocery stores up and down the coast. This significant investment is also why we ask the community to be mindful of only picking in the areas BTLT has set aside for public gathering. 

The massive “barren” at Crystal Spring doesn’t just produce blueberries, though. The area is a rare natural community home to sedges, birds, reptiles, and butterflies that depend on sandy soils and full sunlight to thrive. Once common along the northeastern coast, development and changing land uses have all but eliminated this unique biome, and the Maine Natural Areas Program lists it 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. 

In 2019, BTLT hosted a “bioblitz” at the property to help catalog the many species that call this place home. The recent prescribed burn of the blueberry barrens will help ensure this unique habitat is sustained, and BTLT will carefully monitor the recovery and the species that it has impacted. 

If you’re interested in learning more about the prescribed burn and this rare natural community, join the Land Trust’s Stewardship Manager, Margaret Gerber, on July 27th at 5:30 PM. She’ll take you through the process of planning on the ground for a prescribed burn and what the Land Trust hoped to accomplish by burning 14 acres of the barren in April, as well as any other questions you have around land management. To learn more about the event and register, you can click here. 

If you can’t make the walk but would like to visit the blueberry barrens, 

  • now is a great time of year to do so while the blueberries are ripe for the picking. We also recently installed interpretive signage at the farm that helps describe this unique community.  

Our blueberry barren is located south of Pleasant Hill Road. To access it, you can park at the Crystal Spring Farm trail parking area and take the East Trail.  Where the East Trail intersects the Blueberry Loop, take a right toward the field and you’ll find blueberries! 

As you enjoy the blueberries and engage in this wonderful rite of summer, please respect a few important rules: 

  • Stay on our property: The map at the end of this post shows the location of our property boundary. These maps are posted at primary entrances to our property.
  • Park responsibly: While we prefer that people use the parking area described above and walk to the barren, it is also possible to park along Pleasant Hill Road near the gate approximately 0.75 mile from Maine Street. If you park on Pleasant Hill Road: 
  • DO NOT BLOCK THE FARM ROAD OR GATE! The road must be accessible to farm and fire equipment at all times. 
  • Park only on the south side of Pleasant Hill Road (the side the blueberries are on). With cars parked on both sides of the road, pedestrians crossing, runners and bikers, and farm equipment all converging – it makes for a very unsafe situation. 
  • Have fun! And share your best blueberry recipes with us! 

If you have questions, give us a call at 729-7694. Happy picking! 

New Signage at Crystal Spring Farm

By George Jutras, BTLT Land Steward
The BTLT stewardship team recently finished installing some new interpretive signage at Crystal Spring Farm. Signs near the Farmstead parking area at the East Trail trailhead detail the history of farming and conservation at Crystal Spring. They highlight the chronology of events that has led to the successful coexistence of a popular public access trail system and active farm, all concurrently managed for ecological conservation of the land. A sign at the intersection of the East trail and Ravine Trail remembers the Indigenous history of the area, highlighting the Wabanaki People and their longstanding connection to and ecological maintenance of the area in which Brunswick and Crystal Spring Farm now lie. An additional sign near the intersection of the Blueberry Loop and the East Trail discusses the natural history and ecological significance of the Sandplain Grassland ecosystem. It comprises a significant portion of the Crystal Spring Farm area, particularly the blueberry barrens on the southern side of the property.

Rescheduled: Stewardship Tour Series: Crystal Spring Farm Blueberry Barren

We're sorry, but all tickets sales have ended because the event is expired.

  • July 27, 2021
    5:30 pm - 6:30 pm

Interested in learning about the role prescribed fire can play in our local landscapes? Come learn about the recent prescribed burn of the blueberry barren at Crystal Spring Farm with Stewardship Manager Margaret Gerber while enjoying u-pick berries along the way!  Joining Margaret will (more…)

BTLT in the News, “Brunswick project tests Topsham scout’s paperwork, bridge-building skills”

Brunswick project tests Topsham scout’s paperwork, bridge-building skills

Patti McDonald, March 26, 2019

Sam Hughes, a local Eagle Scout, completed a bridge at the end of Jack’s Trail at BTLT’s Chase Reserve last fall. Through challenges in the paperwork to the excitement of building, Patti McDonald at The Forecaster recently covered the story.

Some teenagers are buried in their electronic devices or concerned with the next social media challenge.

Not 15-year-old Sam Hughes.

Hughes, a sophomore at Mt. Ararat High School, revels in his time outdoors and appreciates nature. He said his love for the outdoors is the reason he decided to join the Boy Scouts when he was 6 years old.

Hughes, who lives in Topsham, has been in the Boy Scouts for nine years and has already achieved the Eagle Scout rank, the organization’s highest achievement. He completed his service project last fall: a bridge he built at the end of Jack’s Trail on Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust’s Chase Reserve on Bunganuc Road in Brunswick. The trail connects BTLT’s trail with Freeport Conservation Trust’s Antoinette Jackman Trail.

Click here to read more about Sam’s project!

Events

Stewardship Tour Series: Androscoggin Woods Grand Opening (11:00am)


  • 11am
    November 6, 2021
    11:00 am - 12:30 pm

Join us for the grand Opening of Androscoggin Woods in Topsham

Stewardship Tour Series: Androscoggin Woods Grand Opening (1:00pm)


  • 1:00-2:30pm
    November 6, 2021
    1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Join us for the grand Opening of Androscoggin Woods in Topsham