Agreement Would Protect Meserve Farm (ME)
Scarborough, Maine, 1/7/04: The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the Scarborough Land Conservation Trust (SLCT) announced today that TPL has signed a purchase agreement for the acquisition and permanent protection of the Meserve Farm. Located in western Scarborough along Broadturn and Hanson roads, the 430-acre farm is one of the largest privately owned parcels in the greater Portland area. The property, which has been a local conservation priority for years, consists of approximately 130 acres of agricultural fields, 300 acres of woodlands, wetlands, and streams, and the farm’s homestead and related agricultural buildings.
The effort to purchase and protect Meserve Farm is a partnership between SLCT, the Town of Scarborough, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources, and the Trust for Public Land. SLCT President Laurene Swaney remarks “We are thrilled that this incredible land protection opportunity now exists. The conservation of this beautiful and scenic agricultural property will be a great benefit for Scarborough and greater Portland area residents.”
It is expected that the Meserve Farm conservation effort will cost over $2.75 million. It is hoped that funding can be assembled from multiple sources including the USDA Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program; private sources including individuals, corporations, and foundations; and the Town of Scarborough’s Land Bond. Stephanie Gilbert, of the Maine Department of Agriculture states “Meserve Farm’s highly productive soils and its proximity to markets in southern Maine make it an excellent farmland protection project. We are pleased to partner with SLCT, TPL, and the Town to ensure that Meserve Farm remains a key agricultural resource forever.”
As part of this effort, the Trust for Public Land intends to purchase the property and convey an agricultural conservation easement to the Maine Department of Agriculture. This easement would essentially retire the property’s development rights and ensure that it remain in agriculture. The restricted property would then be conveyed to SLCT, which plans to work with area farmers and others to further cultivate, manage, and steward the parcel.
The Meserve Farm project is also seeking a major grant from the state’s Land for Maine’s Future Program; the program board is expected to consider the request at their upcoming meeting. This award would be among the final grants made from the funds available under the state bond issue approved in 1999. The Legislature will be considering a new bond issue in the coming session that, if it receives the Legislature’s blessing, will go to voters in the fall of 2004.
Scarborough Town Manager Ron Owens remarks, “The Meserve Farm property is a very important part of Scarborough’s agricultural heritage and the protection of its fields, scenic open space, woodlands, and wildlife habitat is a fantastic opportunity for present and future Scarborough residents.” Sam Hodder, Project Manager at the Trust for Public Land (TPL) states, “Although everyone’s work is now just beginning, we are absolutely committed to protecting this property. The opportunity to keep it in agricultural use is only available due to the good stewardship of the Meserve family who has been managing the farm for generations. TPL is thrilled to be involved in the conservation of this incredible property.”
The Scarborough Land Conservation Trust (SLCT) is an all-volunteer non-profit organization with a mission of protecting important lands in Scarborough. To date, SLCT has protected over 400 acres, including Libby River Farm, Sewall Woods, and Fuller Farm. For more information please call 883-4909. The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit organization that works with others to conserve land for people to enjoy as working landscapes, parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 1.6 million acres in 45 states, including more than 50,000 acres in Maine. For more information, please call 772-7424.