Maine Coast Heritage Trust Announces $3M Campaign to Support Sustainable Agriculture and Community in Midcoast Maine

Release date: May 4, 2022

[May 2, 2022 — Topsham, ME] — Maine Coast Heritage Trust announced today that it is launching a $3M campaign in support of Aldermere Farm and Erickson Fields, two landmark preserves that have had a profound multi-generational impact on Midcoast Maine by providing food, recreation, youth programming, farmer support services, and public demonstration of an environmentally sustainable agricultural way of life. The organization has set a December 31, 2022, deadline to meet its fundraising goal.

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

“Over and over again, we’ve heard from people that they want to see the cows, especially the baby calves,” said Aldermere Farm and Erickson Field Manager Heidi Baker. “We’re excited to have an opportunity for people to view them safely from above like I did as a little girl in the hayloft growing up on a farm.”

The proposed plan is to remove six of the nine buildings on the site – many of which are in dire need of repair – and construct a single new structure that will consolidate many functions of the farm while increasing accessibility to a broader variety of visitors.

Aldermere Farm currently hosts approximately 2,000 people per year through weekly tours and special events, including its widely prized calf unveiling day held in the springtime. With this new structure in place, as well as improvements to increase accessibility and recreational opportunities, visitors will enjoy a more intimate and more informed 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.”

Aside from a new 9,175-square-foot (62-foot x 153-foot) open-air barn including 840-square-foot visitor center at Aldermere Farm, both designed by Camden architect Joseph Russillo, the campaign hopes to provide funding for eight additional priorities, including:

  1. A new 792-square-foot bull barn at Aldermere Farm to house breeding bulls;
  2. A new 880-square-foot pasture shelter at Aldermere Farm to keep cattle safe and prevent over-grazing;
  3. A permanent 660-square-foot storage barn at Erickson Fields to store tools and equipment, replacing a temporary tarp building;
  4. Trail upgrades at both preserves to allow a wider variety of experiences for visitors of all abilities;
  5. New signage at both preserves to educate visitors on a wide variety of topics, from sustainable cattle farm operations to regenerative farming to the positive impacts of land conservation on Maine’s coast;
  6. Essential new equipment, including a solar array, tractor, truck, and transport van;
  7. An increased endowment for both preserves to protect their essential infrastructure and ensure their long-term sustainability for future generations.

“Aldermere Farm and Erickson Fields are powerful examples of Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s mission to create more public access to coastal lands while supporting community engagement and protecting the natural and historical integrity of the coast,” said MCHT Planned Giving Officer David Warren. “Through these preserves, MCHT works to connect thousands of people to the land, feed the local community, inspire youth, support fellow farmers, and demonstrate sustainable farming practices.”

Warren noted that the total $3M funding need includes $2M for Aldermere Farm (approximately $1M for the barn and visitor center); $500K for Erickson Fields; and $500K for the endowment.

“Aldermere Farm is a treasured icon of our coastal community,” said Amy Rollins, Member Services Director at Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a public preserve that provides open space and access to meaningful programming that is valued by residents and visitors of all ages and abilities. I expect there will be tremendous support for a new barn and visitor center, with trail improvements and new signage rounding out the enhancements that will benefit us all.”

The Rich History of Aldermere Farm & Erickson Fields

Around 1800, the Daniel Barrett family began farming much of what is now known as Aldermere Farm, where they raised a variety of animals, fruit, and vegetables for local markets. In 1899, Albert and Helen Chatfield purchased the property for their family’s summer home. Their son Albert Chatfield Jr. inherited the farm in 1950 and began to employ organic methods of farming, eventually introducing a cattle herd of Belted Galloways. On June 14, 1999, Albert Chatfield, Jr. passed away, bequeathing Aldermere Farm to Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

Nearby Erickson Farm had been a dairy farm for generations, until the Erickson family stopped farming the land in the 1980s and welcomed Aldermere Farm to 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.

Over two decades, Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s preserves at Aldermere Farm and Erickson Fields have provided life-changing community gathering and learning place for children, families, and the greater Camden-Rockport community.

To learn more, go to:

aldermere.org

mcht.org/preserves/erickson-fields

ABOUT MAINE COAST HERITAGE TRUST 

MCHT is a dynamic, multifaceted organization with initiatives ranging from preserving coastal access for communities to high impact ecological work focused on reconnecting waterways and improving coastal resiliency to climate change. A leader in Maine’s nationally renowned land conservation efforts since 1970, MCHT maintains a growing 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. Get involved at www.mcht.org. 

Contacts:

Heidi Baker
Aldermere Farm and Erickson Field Manager
hbaker@mcht.org

David Warren
Planned Giving and Major Gifts Officer
Maine Coast Heritage Trust
dwarren@mcht.org
207-522-9228

Aldermere Farm Stats

  • Established in 1800, protected by MCHT in 1999
  • Approximately 2000 visitors in 2021
  • 136 acres including fields, woods, wetlands
  • Free, year-round programs for young people, including Farm Hands and the Aldermere Achievers 4-H Club
  • Education and support for professional farmers
  • Seasonal events and farm tours for the community and visitors
  • Donates beef annually to local food pantries
  • Beautiful places to walk, snowshoe, and ski

Erickson Fields Stats

  • Established in the 1800s
  • 164-acres, with approximately 4 acres in mixed vegetable production, 8 acres in hay land, approximately 20 acres in pasture, and 1.4 miles of trails
  • Donates annually over 25,000 pounds of fresh food for local pantries, schools, and businesses
  • Home to the Teen Ag Program, where local high school students work planting, harvesting, and distributing food to local hunger relief organizations, schools, and businesses
  • Runs programs that teach families how to grow their own vegetables
  • A year-round family- and dog-friendly place where people can walk and run, garden, and enjoy nature
  • A 1.8-mile wellness trail loop connected to nearby Beach Hill Preserve
  • Community gardens and educational opportunities for young kids and their families
  • Education and training on no-till, soil supported practices

“Over the years, we’ve done as much as possible with what we have, but it’s time to make a significant and meaningful investment in these preserves,” said Baker. “I just know the impact of this campaign, if successful, will be tremendous for everyone in our community.”

aldermere Farm

 

 

 

 

 

Aldermere Farm and Erickson Fields Project Timeline:

Phase 1: 2021 (Completed)

  • Pasture and Bull Barns

Phase 2: 2022

  • Aldermere Farm Barn and Visitor Center
  • Erickson Fields Storage Facility
  • Solar Panels for New Structures
  • Reestablished Pastures at Erickson Fields
  • Visitor Center Educational Display
  • Preserve Signage

Phase 3: 2023 & Beyond

  • Redesign of Production Barn at Erickson Fields
  • Trail Upgrades at Both Preserves
  • Production and Transportation Van for Erickson Fields
  • Upgrades to Historical Buildings at Aldermere Farm
  • Equipment Needs at Both Preserves