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Maine Coast Heritage Trust has set a new campaign goal of $3.8 million for critical infrastructure and equipment at Aldermere Farm and Erickson Fields preserves in Rockport.
The goal is up from $3 million a year ago.
The higher tally is due to pandemic-related construction delays and increases in pricing, according to a news release.
The target deadline has also been extended a year, to Dec. 31.
Currently, $2.3 million has been raised.
The $3.8 million would be broken down as follows:
Aldemere Farm, established in 1800, is home to the oldest continuously operated herd of Belted Galloway in the U.S.
The trust will open the doors and barnyard at Aldermere Farm on May 6 for the preserve’s annual calf unveiling day.
In addition to viewing 12 baby calves, visitors will have the opportunity to see progress on the campaign, which is providing critical new infrastructure at Aldermere Farm and nearby Erickson Fields.
Aldemere Farm has been an MCHT preserve since 1999 and hosts roughly 2,000 visitors per year. Last year the farm donated more than 1,000 pounds of beef to local food pantries.
Nearby Erickson Fields grows nearly 23,000 pounds of fresh produce for food pantries, public-school lunches, share tables and free farm stands on the midcoast.
Aldermere Farm is undergoing a major renovation to accommodate the Belted Galloway herd while improving accessibility to the public. Included are a dual-purpose barn and visitor center with an accessible vestibule, grain room, washroom, storage areas, office and a balcony, providing a top-down view of the working barn below.
Erickson Fields was established in the 1800s with 164 acres. It was owned by the Erickson/Wheaton family since the early 1800s and stayed as a working dairy farm until the 1980s. When the families decided to stop milking, they partnered with Albert Chatfield — owner of Aldermere at the time — and he began pasturing cattle there and haying another 20 acres.
Erickson Fields Preserve was created when MCHT acquired 90 acres in 2008 and then in 2015 another 71 acres.
Erickson Fields has already added a new open-air barn to house equipment that will be used for programing, gardening, and food distribution as the farm continues to engage in education and food security for members of the midcoast community.
“This historic campaign is making way for a safer, more accessible farm and enabling us to serve the midcoast community for decades to come,” said Heidi Baker, the farm preserve director of Aldermere Farm and Erickson Fields.
At the event, visitors will have the chance to view construction of the new barn and visitor center.
“This new structure will increase operational safety and efficiency for staff, support youth programs, serve as a demonstration facility for other farmers, and allow us to welcome more visitors to learn about the farm and MCHT’s coastwide work,” said Baker.
Kate Stookey, MCHT’s president and CEO, said sustainable farming is a core part of the work being supported by land trusts across Maine.
“Our crew at Aldermere thoughtfully manage the pastures to enhance soil health and its capacity to store carbon,” said Stookey. “Through regenerative farming practices, they’re increasing carbon sequestration, water infiltration and retention, and maintenance of species and habitat diversity. It’s extremely different from what you see happening in the industrial food system.”
Aldermere Farm currently offers free, year-round programs for young people, seasonal events and farm tours, donated beef for local food pantries, places to walk, snowshoe and ski, sustainable farm operations dating back to the 1950s, education and support for professional farmers, including regenerative farming and other land resilience practices.
Erickson Fields currently offers agricultural programs that produce over 20,000 pounds of fresh local food annually for pantries, schools and businesses, a year-round place where people can walk and run, garden, and enjoy nature, a 1.8-mile wellness trail, community gardens and educational opportunities.
The goal of the campaign is to maintain and grow both agricultural preserves.
It’s expected the new barn and visitor center at Aldermere Farm will increase operational safety and efficiency for staff, support youth programs, serve as a demonstration facility for other farmers, and allow more visitors to learn about the farm and MCHT’s work. The wheelchair accessible and solar-ready structure will open to the main barn, with a balcony to look out over day-to-day activities at the farm
A facility to house breeding bulls will keep cattle safe and facilitate sharing services and equipment with other farms. A shelter in the pasture will prevent overgrazing. An open-air barn in the garden at Erickson Fields will replace a temporary tarp building and allow staff to keep equipment on site. Current roadside barns at Erickson Fields will be redesigned and rebuilt to allow staff and program participants to wash, pack and distribute produce more safely and efficiently, and enhance food security efforts. The current roadside barns are farm outbuildings originally built 75 or more years ago for livestock.
There will be new and improved signage at both preserves and new equipment, including a truck and tractor expected to drastically increase efficiency and impact at both preserves.
Investments in the endowment for the preserves are expected to ensure there is funding to maintain the infrastructure updates.
Calf Unveiling Day is scheduled for May 6, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Aldermere Farm, 20 Russell Ave., Rockport.
Attractions will include barnyard tours, demonstrations, live music, grilled Aldermere burgers, Stone Fox Farm Creamery's homemade ice cream and Uproot Pie Co.’s woodfire pizza.
Admission is free.
For more information, call 207-236-2739 or click here.
Maine Coast Heritage Trust began on Mount Desert Island in 1970 and today maintains a network of almost 150 coastal and island preserves coastwide.