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“My mother would be dancing”

Creative Conservation Brings Old Farmland Back to Life

Marieta with her dog Brittany. They walk the trail at MCHT’s Erickson Fields Preserve every day. Copyright: Jane Kurko

Updated: May 2023

Erickson Fields Preserve in Rockport offers something you’re less and less likely to find in Midcoast Maine:

  • A broad swath of undeveloped land
  • A new trail through the woods, half a mile from the ocean
  • Young people working in the dirt, growing food for local pantries

Marieta Wheaton, who passed away in 2023, grew up on the land that is now Erickson Fields Preserve, weeding the family gardens in the summertime and sledding down Route 90 (an old country road back then) in the wintertime.

She lived across from Erickson Fields, and, from her kitchen window, watched the goings on at the busy preserve. She saw members of Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s Teen Ag Crew wash crates of harvested vegetables, parents gardening alongside their children through MCHT’s Kids Can Grow program, and volunteers loading their cars with deliveries for food pantries. These sights made her happy.

“My mother would be dancing to think of how Erickson Fields is being kept,” she said back in 2016. “I think working with the soil can bring you closer to real life.”

To foster connections between people and the conserved land in their back yards—and to address the issue of food insecurity in Maine—over the past several years, Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) has sought opportunities to create community gardens on conserved land.

In addition to Erickson Fields preserve, MCHT now hosts community gardens at Milbridge Commons, Babson Creek, and Kelley Farm preserves. Check them out!

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