Land trusts and community come together to conserve Damariscotta farmland

Land trusts and community come together to conserve Damariscotta farmland

Chapman Field and Forest campaign nears goal

Funding from three project partners in the past two weeks has brought Coastal Rivers close to the finish line in our campaign to permanently conserve Chapman Field and Forest, a 32-acre parcel in Damariscotta. Adjacent to Coastal Rivers’ 115-acre Salt Bay Farm property on Belvedere Road, the property includes forest, wetland, and a significant amount of farmland with excellent soils.

It is because of this important farmland that Maine Farmland Trust (MFT) joined in the effort among several partners. MFT contributed to the campaign by purchasing an agricultural conservation easement on the land from Coastal Rivers last week.

In addition to Coastal Rivers’ own commitment to conserve the land, this agricultural conservation easement adds another layer of certainty to a portion of the land’s future as farmland.

Both Coastal Rivers and MFT are committed to keeping these acres in agriculture in part because of the proximity of Chapman Field and Forest to Twin Villages Foodbank Farm (TVFF). TVFF grows food for donation to area food pantries in the fields at Coastal Rivers Salt Bay Farm, immediately adjacent to the new property, and is ready to expand.

map of Salt Bay Farm with overlays showing new property

Map of Coastal Rivers’ Salt Bay Farm, showing new Chapman Field and Forest property adjacent to the fields in production at Twin Villages Foodbank Farm (click on image for a larger view). Map courtesy of Google Maps.

Coastal Rivers will provide use of most of the open fields of Chapman Field and Forest to TVFF at no cost, in addition to the land already in production nearby. Coastal Rivers also provides administrative and development support to TVFF.

Coastal Rivers will continue to own and hold the land, while MFT will monitor the conservation easement. Along with its valuable soil, Chapman Field and Forest offers important wildlife habitat, as well as protection for water quality in Oyster Creek and Great Salt Bay. In addition, this land holds exciting opportunities for Coastal Rivers’ education program.

The property is named after the Chapman family, who owned it for many years. Chris Chapman and partner Elaine Cyr of Harpswell sold the land to Coastal Rivers at a bargain rate, because they had long wanted it to be added to Coastal Rivers’ Salt Bay Farm. “I am excited to see this land return to being farmed,” Chapman shared.

With the support from MFT and donors, Coastal Rivers has just $22,000 left to raise to complete fundraising for the project, out of a total project cost of $142,000.

“It’s hard to overstate just how important this project is on so many levels and how grateful we are for the enthusiastic support of generous community members, Chris and Elaine, and Maine Farmland Trust to make this project happen,” said Coastal Rivers Executive Director Steven Hufnagel. “It means healthy food for the community, permanent farmland, clean water in Great Salt Bay and the Damariscotta River, wildlife habitat, and new areas to explore for the thousands of schoolchildren in our programs. Above all, I’m so pleased it will allow TVFF to expand to address the pressing need for greater food security in Lincoln County.”

Anyone interested in contributing toward completion of this project may direct donations to Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust, PO Box 333, Damariscotta, ME 04543 with “Chapman Field & Forest” in the memo line.