The 30-year history of the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust is a vivid example of how much communities can achieve with sustained effort guided by a common vision. At this time of year, when gratitude and giving take on extra meaning, the Trust wants to express heartfelt gratitude to its thousands of generous friends who have supported our mission of protecting cherished landscapes, safeguarding precious natural resources, providing access for recreation, and supporting local agriculture and other traditional land uses.
In 2014, the Land Trust continued to build on its reputation for providing broad public benefit through conservation programs that touch the lives of virtually everyone in our communities and many from beyond.
Highlights of this past year—which saw us complete our 40th conservation project while boosting the acreage of conserved lands to over 2,300—include:
- Conserved 3 properties in some of our highest priority conservation areas – Merrymeeting Bay, Middle Bay and active farmland – totaling 124 acres.
- Celebrated the 15th season of Saturday Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm, where people flock to get fresh, locally produced goods from our 40 vendors.
- Grew 2,600 pounds of produce for the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program at the Common Good Garden, and provided 80 families and local organizations with the opportunity to garden at the Tom Settlemire Community Garden.
- Enhanced access to healthy food by low income families and increased spending on local food by piloting acceptance of EBT and credit cards at our Saturday farmers’ market.
- Collaborated with Maine Coast Heritage Trust in an effort to protect an important access point to mudflats in East Brunswick for those harvesting shellfish and bloodworms.
- Partnered with the Town of Topsham to improve Head of Tide Park in Topsham and opened a new trail along the Cathance River connecting the Park with five miles of trails at Cathance River Nature Preserve.
- Launched the Young Explorers program — a nature-based ‘Passport’ program to guide and engage youngsters in nature exploration.
- Constructed improvements to 5 miles of trails (naturalizing trail marking, streamlining trail layout to create extended hiking experiences, and reducing long-term trail maintenance needs) in partnership with Cathance River Education Alliance and Highland Green at the Cathance River Nature Preserve.
- Staged a wide array of educational and recreational activities ranging from winter tree identification and directional tree felling to New Lambs’ Day, the Tour de Merrymeeting Bay, and the very popular winter gardening workshop series.
- Continued to cultivate the local food economy through roundtable discussions among producers and distributors, educational events for adults and children, protecting prime farmland, and working to establish food hubs in our area.
- Enjoyed hundreds of hours working with volunteers of all ages who came out to build bridges, maintain trails, weed Common Good gardens, erect signposts, and much much more.
- Supported the Town of Brunswick’s planning for trails at the 600-acre Kate Furbish Preserve at the former naval air station.
- Celebrated raising $6 million in three years through the Campaign for Brunswick-Topsham… an effort to fund key land protection projects, steward conserved lands, and enhance community programs.
These examples of our diverse activities and collaborations have allowed us to build a level of support virtually unthinkable even ten years ago. Many of our supporters come to us through a single program – they frequent the farmers’ market, have a plot at the Community Garden, attend Young Explorers meet-ups on Wednesday mornings, find camaraderie in trail work, or pick up gardening tips at the winter workshops. As our programs have grown, so has our support. We like this “chicken and egg” syndrome. The more support we get, the more we can do. And the more we can do, the more support we get to do even more!
We don’t seek growth for growth’s sake. We seek growth—whether at the Farmers’ Market or the Community Garden or our trail systems—to engage in the exciting work of building a stronger, healthier and happier community. Thanks to everyone for your loyal support in helping us do just that. Happy New Year!
Brad Babson, Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Board President and
Angela Twitchell, Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Executive Director