The Scarborough Land Trust has completed the $2.5 million purchase of the Benjamin Farm property on Pleasant Hill Road, adding 135 acres of fields, woods and wetlands to its inventory of conservation land.

The Scarborough Town Council voted unanimously in June to spend $2 million from the town’s Land Bond Fund to buy what is one of the last open spaces in one of the most densely developed neighborhoods in Scarborough.

The trustees then set a deadline to raise the remaining $500,000 through private donations and complete the purchase by the end of 2014, which they did at a closing with Jerrerd Benjamin’s heirs on Dec. 12.

“This is a project that the land trust has been working on for more than 15 years,” said Kathy Mills, the land trust’s executive director. “It’s an amazing expanse of open fields, woods and wetlands, and it has abundant wildlife. It’s filled with birds.”

Located just two miles from Higgins Beach, the property was owned by five children of the late Jerrerd Benjamin, who farmed the property until 2005. It contains the headwaters of the Spurwink River, abuts the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, and is part of a wildlife and wetlands corridor that stretches to the Scarborough Marsh.

“People have been driving by Benjamin Farm for years, hoping that it would be conserved,” said Paul Austin, the land trust’s president. “Benjamin Farm is a dream come true for Scarborough.”


More than 400 individuals contributed to the land trust’s fundraising campaign, Austin said. Anonymous donors issued a $50,000 matching challenge in September that took the campaign over the top. The land trust will use additional funds raised during the campaign to help care for the property in perpetuity.

“The strong support for Benjamin Farm shows that conservation of natural areas is a priority for the people of Scarborough,” said Tom Hall, Scarborough’s town manager.

In the coming months, the land trust will develop a conservation plan for Benjamin Farm that will include creating trails for public access, maintaining open space and preserving wildlife habitat. The trust will seek community input in developing the plan.

Founded in 1977, the trust has conserved more than 1,300 acres and created trail networks on four properties that are open to the public year-round: Libby River Farm, Fuller Farm, Sewell Woods and Broadturn Farm.

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