“LOCAL FARMS, LOCAL FOOD” is the topic in the sixth annual Environmental Lecture Series, which begins on Sept. 27 at Bowdoin College’s Kresge Auditorium. Ben Hewitt, above, a Vermont farmer, will be the featured speaker on the Sept. 27. Titled “The Future’s in the Dirt,” Hewitt’s lecture will deal with local agriculture’s impact on environment, economic and public health.

“LOCAL FARMS, LOCAL FOOD” is the topic in the sixth annual Environmental Lecture Series, which begins on Sept. 27 at Bowdoin College’s Kresge Auditorium. Ben Hewitt, above, a Vermont farmer, will be the featured speaker on the Sept. 27. Titled “The Future’s in the Dirt,” Hewitt’s lecture will deal with local agriculture’s impact on environment, economic and public health.

BATH — Think of the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust and you might envision the magnificent confluence of six rivers around Bowdoinham, Woolwich and Brunswick that is Merrymeeting Bay.

 

 

Not only is Merrymeeting Bay the largest freshwater estuary system north of Chesapeake Bay, but it drains an astounding 38 percent of the state’s fresh water. Indeed, the land trust does work with state and federal agencies and private conservation organizations under the umbrella of the Maine Wetlands Protection Coalition. The results, so far: More than 18,000 acres of critical wetland habitat.

But as huge as Merrymeeting Bay is, KELT’s scope encompasses even more. Land conservation and — more recently — the preservation of farmland, occupies much of the staff ’s time.

To that end, the land trust has partnered with the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust to create “Local Farms, Local Food.” That will be the topic in the sixth annual Environmental Lecture Series, which begins on Sept. 27 at Bowdoin College’s Kresge Auditorium.

“We chose an environmental topic of global significance that has direct local relevance,” said Alicia Heyburn, project coordinator for KELT. “Your place is part of the global environment.”

Ben Hewitt, a Vermont farmer, will be the featured speaker on Sept. 27, beginning at 7 p.m. Titled “The Future’s in the Dirt,” Hewitt’s lecture will deal with local agriculture’s impact on environment, economic and public health.

Hewitt has penned two books, including “The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food,” and, most recently, “Making Supper Safe: One Man’s Quest to Learn the Truth About Food Safety.”

Heyburn said that Hewitt will speak to the “value of the local dollar” regarding agriculture.

“You cannot extricate the economic from the environmental,” she said. “One goes down, the other goes down. Put a face to your food. Where does it go? Where does it come from? It’s about building community.”

The land trust is doing its part to preserve farmland for farming, and its staff proudly points out that Maine has more young farmers than any state in the country.

How it works

Typically, a land trust preserves land in one of two ways: It creates easements that do away with land-development rights, and it acquires land, either land that is given or sold. In a perfect scenario, people come to own the land and farm it.

Cyrstal Spring Farm, located on Pleasant Hill Road at the corner of Woodside Road in Brunswick, is a prime example. Acquired through two capital campaigns, the 321-acre farm is by far the most complex of Brunswick/Topsham Land Trust’s projects.

From May until the end of October, Crystal Spring Farm is the venue for a large Saturday morning farmers market managed by BTLT.

Carrie Kinne, KELT’s executive director, points out that soil data helps land trusts determine what land belongs in a trust.

“The land trust identifies the land,” Kinne said. “Then there’s a legal transaction, where the landowner sells or donates developmental rights. It must go to a nonprofit to be in a land trust. We steward the land. We walk the property every year and make sure the standards are being kept.”

All together

The effort, Kinne said, is of utmost importance.

“We need to protect this land and have it be preserved for agriculture so that we can feed ourselves in the future,” she said.

In order to preserve farmland for farming — and for others to enjoy the benefits of that farmland — it takes many hands. Local restaurants, such as Solo Bistro in Bath and Henry and Marty in Brunswick, are doing their part by serving food from area farms.

Among Henry and Marty’s local offerings: Bissons Meat, Crystal Spring Farm, Goranson Farm, Fishbowl Farm, New Leaf Farm, Hahns End Cheese, Sparrow Farm, Laughing Stock Farm, Oyster Creek Mushroom Co., Thirty Acre Farm, York Hill Farm, Appleton Creamery, Patchwork Organic Gardens, Blueberry Ledge Farm, Squire Tarbox Farm, Freedom Farm, Bath Farmers Market, Brunswick Farmers Market and Crystal Spring Farmers Market.

And, it takes a lecture series such as the one being sponsored by KELT. Hewitt is a great choice, they say, to get it all started. “He will talk on the importance of local agriculture to local health,” said Becky Kolak, education coordinator for the land trust.

As a follow-up to the Sept. 27 lecture, KELT has organized a series of community book reads and public discussions. The first is scheduled for Oct. 17 at Patten Free Library in Bath, beginning at 4 p.m. Subsequent community book reads are set for 7 p.m. on Oct. 18 at Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick, and for 1 p.m. on Oct. 24 at Topsham Public Library.

KELT’s theme for this fall’s lecture series is “Working Landscapes: Farms, Forest and Fisheries.” The second lecture is Oct. 25 and the third is Nov. 15, both at Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, and both at 7 p.m.

[email protected]timesrecord.com

¦ THE KENNEBEC ESTUARY LAND TRUST is committed to conserving land and wildlife habitat of the Lower Kennebec and Sheepscot River estuaries. KELT is a community-based membership organization serving the towns of Arrowsic, Bath, West Bath, Georgetown, Westport Island and Woolwich.


Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: