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May 10, 2022

Maine Coast Heritage Trust sets $3M fundraising goal to support midcoast farms

Courtesy / Maine Coast Heritage Trust Aldermere Farm in Rockport boasts the oldest continuously operated herd of Belted Galloway cows in the U.S. and hosts 2,000 visitors a year.

Maine Coast Heritage Trust is launching a $3 million fundraising campaign to support  Aldermere Farm and Erickson Fields, two landmark land preserves in Rockport.

The organization has set a Dec. 31 deadline to meet its fundraising goal. It includes $2 million for Aldermere Farm, $500,000 for Erickson Fields and $500,000 for the endowment.

Funds raised by the campaign will largely support a barn and visitor center at Aldermere Farm, including a wheelchair-accessible vestibule, grain room, washroom, storage areas and office, as well as a balcony, providing a top-down view of the working barn below.

Aldermere Farm is a saltwater farm started in the early 1800s situated on the shores of Penobscot Bay and home to the oldest continuously operated herd of Belted Galloway cows in the United States.

Nearby Erickson Farm had been a dairy farm for generations, until the Erickson family stopped farming the land in the 1980s and had Aldermere Farm manage its fields for hay and grazing. When the Erickson family decided to sell the land, they worked with MCHT and Maine Farmland Trust to preserve the property.

The proposed plan at Aldermere Farm is to remove six of the nine buildings on the site, many of which are in need of repair, and construct the 9,175-square-foot open-air barn and visitor center, consolidating many functions of the farm while increasing accessibility.

Aldermere Farm currently hosts about 2,000 people per year through weekly tours and special events. With this new structure in place, as well as improvements to increase accessibility and recreational opportunities, visitors will get a more intimate look at the 136-acre farm, which was protected by MCHT in 1999.

“Aldermere Farm and Erickson Fields were originally established as working farms, not as public preserves,” said Kate Stookey, the new president and CEO of Maine Coast Heritage Trust. “Yet for generations, they have done a remarkable job of welcoming thousands of annual visitors while fostering powerful connections between the food we eat and the land that sustains us.

"All of us at MCHT are excited to launch a campaign in support of these iconic preserves so they can do an even better job of serving our community and deepening a broad appreciation for sustainable agriculture and land conservation.”

In addition to the new barn and visitor center, both designed by Camden architect Joseph Russillo, the fundraising campaign hopes to provide funding for a new bull barn to house breeding bulls, a new 880-square-foot pasture shelter at Aldermere Farm to keep cattle safe and prevent overgrazing, a 660-square-foot storage barn at Erickson Fields, trail upgrades, new signage and equipment.

MCHT maintains a network of almost 150 coastal and island preserves free and open to everyone and leads the 80-member Maine Land Trust Network to ensure that land conservation provides benefits to all Maine communities.

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