Maine Coast Heritage Trust Announces Major Milestone in Campaign for Aldermere Farm & Erickson Fields Preserves
Release date: October 13, 2023
News of a major gift arrives days before a Fall Celebration at Erickson Fields and as MCHT approaches the final stretch of a transformational campaign for Aldermere Farm, home to the oldest continuously operated herd of Belted Galloway in the United States.
ROCKPORT, MAINE, October 12, 2023 – Maine Coast Heritage Trust, a statewide land conservation organization, announced today that it will receive a $500,000 gift toward the campaign for Aldermere Farm and Erickson Fields, two landmark preserves that have had a profound multi-generational impact in Midcoast Maine by providing food, farming, education, and public demonstration of the agricultural way of life. The $3M campaign was publicly announced in May 2022 with the goal of reaching its completion by December 31, 2022, but due to building material shortages, unprecedented rises in construction costs, and delays in securing a contractor, the deadline and the campaign goal were extended.
Aldermere Farm, a historic saltwater farm situated on the shores of Penobscot Bay in Rockport, has already undergone most of the renovation work to accommodate the oldest continuously operated herd of Belted Galloway cows in the United States while improving accessibility to the public. Included are a new barn and attached wheel-chair accessible visitor center with meeting space and education resources, a washroom, and a balcony providing a top-down view of the working barn.
Nearby Erickson Fields, which grows an average of 20,000 pounds of fresh food per year for local hunger relief efforts, has added a new open-air barn to house equipment for programing, gardening, and food distribution to members of the Midcoast community.
With a gift of $500K from the Sherman Family Foundation, the organization says it can approach the final stretch of its renovation work, while inspiring others to join the cause.
“Everyone at MCHT is feeling incredibly grateful to the Sherman Family Foundation for coming through with such an inspirational gift,” said David Warren, MCHT Planned Giving and Major Gifts Officer. “We are especially heartened because this is a family that wishes to support efforts to increase food security. Their gift inspires us to think expansively about our efforts to demonstrate sustainable, impactful, regenerative farming and to engage with young people in the work.”
MCHT will continue to fundraise through December 31, 2023, with the hope of exceeding its original goal in order to make up for increased building costs. All new gifts to the campaign will be matched dollar for dollar up to $250,000.
Fall Celebration at Erickson Fields Preserve Spotlights Regenerative Farming
As news breaks of the campaign gift, friends, partners, and members of the public are preparing to come together for a Fall Celebration at Erickson Fields Preserve on Saturday, October 14 from 1:00 to 4:00 PM. The event is a chance to celebrate the harvest season, meet neighbors, and learn about programs and renovations underway at each preserve.
Attendees will have the chance to see the critical new infrastructure and equipment that’s already in use while meeting a broad array of community partners and witnessing the organization’s annual harvest of vegetables grown for food pantries, public school lunches, free farm stands, and other hunger relief efforts. Guests will also have the chance to meet members of the Teen Ag Crew who been immersed in a deep exploration of plant and soil health, while learning to apply regenerative farming techniques to raise nutrient dense vegetables.
MCHT President and CEO Kate Stookey will welcome community partners and guests while providing updates about the campaign. Aaron Englander, Interim Director of Aldermere Farm and Erickson Fields Preserve and a passionate spokesperson for Maine’s regenerative farming movement, will give a short informational talk.
Community Programs Aim to Reduce Food Insecurity and Food Waste
Local partnerships within the Midcoast community have greatly expanded the impact of Aldermere Farm and Erickson Fields through public-school outreach and Community Wellness Programs at Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo County General Hospital. Spearheaded by the Knox County Gleaners and Pen Bay Medical, the collaboration allows local schools and hospitals to increase food distribution for food insecure families within the community.
“Because of these programs, we expect to harvest another 20,000 pounds of fresh food this year for distribution to local food pantries and public schools,” said Englander.
Nancy Wood, SNAP Ed Nutrition Educator for Knox County, and chief gleaner at the Knox County Gleaners says the Knox County Gleaners began the collaboration with Erickson Fields in 2019 in an effort to reduce food insecurity and food waste.
“This very successful collaboration has afforded hundreds of individuals in Knox County access to free, fresh, local, nutritious food,” says Wood. “Our mutual intention is to keep our locals healthy with nutritious produce while affording them to spend their hard-earned dollars on other life necessities. We believe that there is no better partner for the efforts of Knox County Gleaners than Erickson Fields with their educational format and profound sense of community.”
Deidre Dority, Program Manager Specialist for the Community Health Department in Knox and Waldo counties at Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo County General Hospital, noted that her organization sets up a seasonal farm-stand each year at the health center that is stocked twice a week with the fresh vegetables cultivated at Erickson Fields. “This resource offers our patients access to fresh vegetables at no cost to the recipient,” said Dority. “Patients living with transportation insecurity have told us that having access to this bounty at their doctors’ office increases their vegetable consumption by combining an appointment with a food resource,” she added. The partnership has benefits beyond the recipients of the local food. According to Dority, both medical staff and providers have vocalized the importance of the partnership and how the presence of fresh vegetables and a lower barrier food resource in the workplace reduces stigma surrounding food insecurity.
We’re grateful for the ongoing support that makes Erickson Fields Preserve such an impactful community resource.” said Englander. “These improvements at the farm will greatly enhance our food security efforts and give us more time for programming, gardening, and food distribution.
Event Details — Aldermere Farm & Erickson Fields’ Fall Celebration
What: Aldermere Farm & Erickson Fields’ Fall Celebration – All Welcome.
When: Saturday, October 14 from 1:00 to 4:00 PM
Rain Date: Sunday, October 15 from 1:00 to 4:00 PM
Where: Erickson Fields Preserve, 164 West Street, Rockport
Learn More: https://www.mcht.org/event/aldermere-farm-erickson-fields-fall-celebration/
Activities throughout the day:
- At 2 PM, MCHT President and CEO Kate Stookey will welcome guests and provide updates about the Aldermere & Erickson campaign. Following Stookey’s remarks, Aaron Englander, a passionate spokesperson for Maine’s regenerative farming movement, will give a short informational talk.
- Harvest carrots with the Teen Ag Crew
- Hands-on demonstrations from the Knox County Gleaners and Teen Ag Crew on how the produce is grown, harvested, washed, and packed for delivery.
- Learn how your family can get involved with Kids Can Grow and build your own raised bed at home.
- Take a walk on the “Story Walk”
- Meet the Aldermere 4-Hers and their Belted Galloway cows from Aldermere Farm
- Chat with members of The Knox County Gleaners and learn about the Community Wellness Program at Pen Bay Medical Center and partnership programs that address food insecurity in our local communities.
- Home-made ice cream from Stone Fox Farm Creamery’s ice cream truck.
- Take a self-guided tour at Erickson Fields and learn about the agricultural programs run at Aldermere Farm and Erickson Fields.
- Meet an Aldermere Belted Galloway cow and explore the Teen Ag Crew’s 4-acre garden.
About Maine Coast Heritage Trust
MCHT is a nonprofit land conservation 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. MCHT began on Mount Desert Island in 1970 and continues to serve as the local land trust for the MDI community with over two dozen preserves in the area. Since it began, MCHT has become a leader in Maine’s nationally renowned land conservation efforts and maintains a growing network of almost 150 coastal and island preserves coastwide—free and open to everyone. MCHT also 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.
Planned Giving and Major Gifts Officer
Maine Coast Heritage Trust
Interim Director of Aldermere and Erickson Fields Preserve