Spring Brook Farm & Market’s mission statement – “to provide the highest-quality food for our community while being responsible stewards of our surrounding farmland” – is relatively new.

But the mission itself is not. The commitment dates back to the Cumberland farm’s founding in 1820, the year Maine became a state.

And Spring Brook’s practices – including maintaining soil health, promoting biodiversity and pollinators, and producing food “in the healthiest, most humane way possible” – are among the key reasons that the venerable farm has been honored with the 2018 Lee Auto Malls Community Farm Champion Award.

“Lee is an active supporter of local and organic food in Maine, and it’s important to us to promote this growing movement and help make such good food accessible to more people,” said Adam Lee, chairman of the family-owned auto company.

“For multiple generations, the owners of Spring Brook Farm have adhered to the principles of producing food sustainably, and we’re delighted to recognize their contributions to the community.”

As the farm on Greely Road in the heart of Cumberland approaches its 200th anniversary, recent  changes have seen production increase; acreage expand to a total of 300, including neighboring fields being managed; and operations strengthened all around. Products range from pasture-raised meat to veggies to honey to manure.

It was in spring 2015 that longtime owners Greg and Kay Fowler (Kay, a Blanchard, was born on the farm and represents the fourth generation of family ownership) were approached by Jeff Storey, who asked about the possibility of leasing and operating the property.

Storey, now 43, grew up nearby and worked at Spring Brook from junior high into his college years. Later, working in construction, he found that “I missed this (farming) every day of my life.”

(He speaks moments after convincing the last cow into shelter as a Nor’easter was just beginning.)

Kay remembers that “we had a good history with Jeff. He learned about the process from Greg and me when he was here part-time, and later learned to work with large equipment. We knew would be in good hands.”

Today, Storey is in the early stages of a 40-year lease, operating the farm and its growing market. The Fowlers still live here, and are involved. Greg, 80, enjoys lending a hand with farm tasks. Kay, who keeps the books, proudly notes that “we are direct-to-consumer in almost every way, and as organic as possible.”

The Spring Brook cow herd now numbers 135, up from 20 three years ago. The chickens have tripled, to more than 600; the pigs (20) have multiplied tenfold.  A heated (by waste-product softwood) greenhouse was added last fall. So was a pair of draft horses; Storey recently hitched them for a delivery drive to the Cumberland food pantry.

“It’s great to be in this community,” Storey said. “We couldn’t do what we’re doing without the people here around us.”

For more information, follow Spring Brook Farm & Market on Facebook and Instagram, and visit www.sbfarmandmarket.com.