Meserve Farm Protection Completed (ME)
Scarborough, Maine, 5/11/2004: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), the Scarborough Land Conservation Trust (SLCT) and the Town of Scarborough announced today that SLCT has acquired the Meserve Farm property for permanent protection as a 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 the result of a partnership between TPL, SLCT, the Town of Scarborough, and the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources, and was strongly supported by U.S. Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and U.S. Congressman Tom Allen.
Costing approximately $2.7 million, the farm was protected with funds assembled from multiple sources including a $1.2 million appropriation from the Town of Scarborough’s Land Bond, a $785,000 grant from the federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and $100,000 from individuals, corporations, and foundations. The Meserve Farm project has also received a $650,000 grant from the state’s Land for Maine’s Future Program (LMF).
The LMF award is among the final grants made from the funds available under the state bond issue approved in 1999. A coalition of 260 organizations in Maine has urged renewal of the Land for Maine’s Future program through another bond initiative this fall. To date, the Legislature has not authorized a new bond measure as proposed by both Governor John Baldacci and several members of the state legislature.
Scarborough Town Manager Ron Owens stated, “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.”
SLCT President Laurene Swaney added, “We are thrilled that this incredible property will remain a farm. The conservation of this beautiful and scenic agricultural property will be a great benefit for Scarborough and greater Portland area residents.”
In December of 2003, after months of negotiations, TPL secured a Purchase and Sale Agreement with the Meserve family for the 430-acre farm. As part of this effort, SLCT will own the property and the Maine Department of Agriculture will hold an agricultural conservation easement. The easement will prohibit any future development on the property and ensure that it remain permanently in agricultural use. SLCT plans to work with area farmers and others to further cultivate, manage, and steward the protected parcel.
Sam Hodder, Project Manager at the Trust for Public Land (TPL) stated, “TPL is thrilled to be involved in the conservation of this incredible property. The energy and vision demonstrated by the parties involved, and the wonderful partnership that brought this to fruition, have been remarkable. This is an agricultural and open space resource that the people of southern Maine will be proud of for generations.”
Stephanie Gilbert, of the Maine Department of Agriculture said, “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 our funders, including LMF and USDA, as well as with our conservation partners SLCT, TPL, and the Town to ensure that Meserve Farm remains a key agricultural resource forever.”
“I support land protection programs in Congress because they help Maine communities protect their open space,” Representative Tom Allen said. “With the use of Federal dollars, the Scarborough community has protected a working farm in the rapidly developing western section of the town. Farming is part of southern Maine’s heritage, and I am happy that Meserve Farm will continue to produce for years to come.”
“The final assurance that Meserve Farm, with its rich diversity of wetlands, agricultural fields, and wood habitats, will be protected is welcome news to the town of Scarborough and those surrounding communities,” said Senator Olympia Snowe. “I applaud the joint efforts of the many involved parties particularly the Trust for Public Land and the Scarborough Land Conservation Trust who rightly set the ambitious goal of preserving Meserve Farm for future generations. Today’s announcement is resounding acknowledgment that they have succeeded.”
“Increasing development pressures make it all the more important that we pursue cooperative agreements to preserve Maine’s agricultural heritage,” said Senator Susan Collins. “Meserve Farm, with its beautiful fields, surrounding woodlands, wetlands, and streams, and historical buildings, is a treasure for the entire community. By maintaining this land in its traditional uses, we help to preserve a significant piece of our agricultural heritage, and an important component of our present and future natural resource based economy.”
“Protecting Maine’s farmland is a major initiative of NRCS”, stated Joyce Swartzendruber, NRCS State Conservationist in Maine. “The program provides us an opportunity to partner with state and local agencies and landowners to keep farmland in agriculture.”
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 or visit www.tpl.org/maine.