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Dyke and Tim Messler

Making Philanthropy a Family Tradition

When Dyke Messler first moved to the Camden-Rockport area in 1978, Aldermere Farm struck him as "a peaceful haven in an area of great natural beauty." Two decades later, after Mr. Chatfield bequeathed the 136-acre saltwater farm to Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Messler was among the first local residents to step forward and offer support for sustaining the farm operation there.

"I've been impressed by how MCHT has kept Aldermere Farm fresh and growing, opening it up to the community," Messler observes. He has continued supporting the farm because he believes in sustaining the natural settings that define Maine. That conviction, he says, traces back to childhood and is fueled by his undiminished sense of wonder: "There is something so amazing about being alive in this incredibly beautiful place."

Dyke's son Tim shares his father's appreciation for natural landscapes. "I only realized after moving away," he notes, "that not everyone is fortunate enough to grow up in such a wonderful place." An active member of a CSA (community supported agriculture farm) in New York, Tim would like to see more people appreciate how food is grown. When his father introduced him to Aldermere Farm, Tim became an MCHT supporter as well. He values the "human scale" of farms like Aldermere and Erickson Fields, and the way they engage young people through programs like the Teen Ag Crew, Kids Can Grow, and 4-H.

Dyke invited Tim to serve on the board of his family's charitable foundation at age 18 so he'd learn to be guided by the aphorism that "to whom much has been given, much shall be expected." "A highlight of working with MCHT," Dyke observes, "has been getting to know others--like Richard Rockefeller [whose mother Peggy co-founded the Trust]--who are so incredible and inspirational in their sharing."

Hearing of MCHT's efforts to secure several new agricultural easements in Camden, Tim and Dyke reminisce about buying eggs from the Rokes Farm decades ago at a farm stand decorated with gladioli and hand-knit hats. "It's about so much more than the land or fresh food," they observe. "It's about our shared quality of life."

In its work downeast, Maine Coast Heritage Trust recently conserved a beautiful, 12-acre island off Roque Bluffs that has an easy landing beach, open meadows and high ledges. Historically used to graze sheep, Hickey Island has interesting rock formations and has been a destination for geology students and boy scouts. It lies at the mouth of Little Kennebec Bay, an MCHT "whole place" where focused conservation effort has protected extensive shorefront.