The Scarborough Land Trust is ramping up a $500,000 fundraising campaign after the Scarborough Town Council voted unanimously Wednesday to spend $2 million from the town’s Land Bond Fund to help buy the 135-acre Benjamin Farm on Pleasant Hill Road.
The trust has set a Dec. 31 deadline to raise enough money to buy the $2.5 million property, which is one of the last remaining open spaces in one of the most densely developed neighborhoods of Scarborough, according to a news release.
“Benjamin Farm is a gem of a property that so many in Scarborough have waited years to protect,” said Paul Austin, land trust president. “Now we have the chance.”
About one mile from Higgins Beach, Benjamin Farm is owned by the children of the late Jerrerd Benjamin, who farmed the property until 2005. It’s next to Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge land, contains headwaters of the Spurwink River and is part of a wetlands and wildlife corridor that stretches to the Libby River.
“The voters of Scarborough approved these land bond funds by overwhelming majorities years ago,” said council Chairman Richard Sullivan. “Benjamin Farm is exactly the type of project worthy of land bond support.”
The fundraising committee, headed by trust board member Betts Armstrong, formed in January with more than a dozen community volunteers. So far, it has raised $100,000 toward the $500,000 goal.
“This is the most ambitious fundraising goal the land trust has ever attempted,” Armstrong said. “We have a lot of work ahead in the next six months.”
Founded in 1977, the trust has conserved more than 1,200 acres and created trail networks on four properties that are open to the public: Libby River Farm, Fuller Farm, Sewell Woods and Broadturn Farm.