John and Martha Charest join MFT Land Protection staff member Charlie Baldwin at the closing of the donated easement for their farm in Buxton. COURTESY PHOTO/Maine Farmland Trust

John and Martha Charest join MFT Land Protection staff member Charlie Baldwin at the closing of the donated easement for their farm in Buxton. COURTESY PHOTO/Maine Farmland Trust

BUXTON — A farm in Buxton dating back to the mid-18th century has been protected for future generations through the donation of an easement to the Maine Farmland Trust.

John and Martha Charest purchased the 69-acre property in 1974 and set about clearing farm fields choked by alder and restoring the century old farmhouse and barn on the site. 

The Charests are only the fifth owners of the farm, which was originally farmed by Captain John Elden, a veteran of the French and Indian War, in the mid-1700s.

They started raising Belted Galloway cattle on the farm in 1978, and over the years also have raised sheep and pigs.

Today the Charests continue to keep a small herd of cattle and actively manage the farm’s woodland acreage for silvopasture, a type of woodland pasture for livestock, and manage tree growth at the property with a forester’s assistance.

The couple first approached the Maine Farmland Trust more than a decade ago in an effort to make sure the land will remain available for future generations of farmers long after they leave the property.

“Maine Farmland Trust was always upper most in our minds as we looked to the future,” the couple said.

Earlier this year, after numerous family discussions, the Charvests decided to place an easement on the property and donate it to Maine Farmland Trust because they believe the organization is best situated to ensure that the lands they restored to productivity will be protected and available for agricultural use for generations.

“They came highly recommended,” the couple said. “With the help of the Maine Famland Trust we are assured that this land we’ve worked so hard for over the years will remain open and productive fields and woodlands.”

Trust officials say that a donated easement may be the best tool to protect a farming property and are generally easier to execute than purchased easements and offer farmers some financial benefits.

When an easement is donated on a farm property, certain rights and restrictions of a property are given, free of compensation, to a separate entity which is usually a nonprofit land trust.

Donated easements count as a charitable contribution that can be deducted from a farmer’s taxable income. Other financial benefits of donating an easement can result from avoiding capital gains or estate taxes, and could result in a reduction of property taxes and in some cases protecting farmland can also add value to abutting properties, as well as for the land itself.

Maine Farmland Trus is a statewide, member-powered nonprofit organization working to protect farmland, support farmers, and advance farming.

Since its inception in 1999, the trust has helped to protect more than 54,000 acres of Maine farmland and provided more than 550 farm families with critical services.  

— Executive Editor Ed Pierce can be reached at 282-1535 ext. 326 or by email at [email protected]

 

 


Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: