Rick Grant, photographed in 2016 in the machine barn on Grant’s Farm in Saco. His death a year later led to Thursday’s auction of the family farm. Staff photo by Whitney Hayward

A farm in Saco that has been owned by the same family for more than 200 years is going on the auction block Thursday.

The auction follows a year-long dispute over the will of Richard M. Grant – the seventh-generation farmer who worked the land off Grant Road with his family until his death in 2017. The land had been farmed by the Grant family since the family was given 25 acres as a gift from King George III in the late 1700s.

The Grant’s Farm auction set for Thursday includes a parcel with more than 300 acres and three barns. The 1955 Dodge D-126 truck will be auctioned separately on the same day. Photo courtesy of Keenan Auction Co.

The auction is part of an estate settlement that calls for dividing the proceeds between Grant’s widow and children. And it means the future is uncertain for the historic farm and more than 300 acres of fields and forests in western Saco.

Auctioneer Stef Keenan of Keenan Auction Co. said it is not unusual for a Maine farm to go to auction, but he called Grant’s Farm an “exceptional piece of property” because of its location 5 miles from the Maine Turnpike. Interest in the auction has been strong from both the farming and development communities, he said.

“It should be a very well-attended auction,” Keenan said. “We will have parties from several states bidding online and on site.”

The auction will include two parcels of land and a variety of farm equipment ranging from a 1955 Dodge D1126 truck to tractors of various sizes. Parcel 1 on Grant Road is about 313 acres, including 87 acres of tillable fields and 221 acres of woodlands. There are three barns on the property located in the city’s conservation district, which is designed to preserve agriculture and open space while permitting low-density residential uses.

The second parcel, on Buxton Road, has 10 acres and a custom home built in 2015. The various pieces of equipment will be auctioned separately from the real estate parcels.

PARTIES AGREE TO AUCTION PROPERTY AND EQUIPMENT

The farm is being sold under a court order liquidating the estate of Grant, who died from a heart attack on his farm on Feb. 13, 2017. Grant was survived by his mother, Claire Grant; his children, Trena Soucy, Julie Grant and Benjamin Grant; and his wife, Stacy, the children’s stepmother. He also had several grandchildren.

Thursday’s auction means the future use is uncertain for the historic farm and more than 300 acres of fields and forests in western Saco. Courtesy of Keenan Auction Co.

Benjamin Grant, who farmed with his father for more than 15 years, declined to comment when reached by phone. He and his family are now operating Grant Family Farm on land owned by his grandparents on McKenney Road.

A message left for Stacy Grant was not returned.

Probate court records do not reveal all of the details of the dispute over Richard Grant’s will between Stacy Grant and his three children, but show that it was settled with an agreement filed last month.

Grant’s will left the farmland, buildings and equipment to his wife, Stacy, whom he married three years before his death.

A handwritten note at the end of the will indicated he wanted to leave his daughter Julie a bottle of Grey Goose vodka and his son the “biggest screwdriver in my toolbox,” according to documents filed in court.

After Richard Grant’s death, Stacy Grant was appointed special administrator of the estate. But in a petition filed to have Stacy Grant removed as administrator, Julie Grant said Stacy Grant had no experience in farming operation and had barred Benjamin Grant from going onto the farm by having a no trespass notice served by the Saco Police Department.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement filed in June, Stacy Grant resigned as special administrator of the estate and Grant Farm ceased to operate.

The parties agreed that the farm property and equipment would be auctioned as soon as possible, with half of the proceeds going to Stacy Grant. The other half of the estate will be split evenly between Julie Grant, Benjamin Grant and Trena Soucy, according to court records.

FARMER KNOWN AS ‘THE CORN KING’ AND ‘BEAN BARON’

Richard Grant, who went by Rick, grew up in Saco and graduated from Thornton Academy in 1977. He worked at Cohen Egg and Wood Structures of Maine before buying his ancestral farm in 1984 following the death of his father, Benjamin Richard Albert Grant, according to the son’s obituary.

Known for his zest for life and passion for farming, Richard Grant was called “The Corn King” and “The Bean Baron of Maine” by those who knew him.

Every season he planted and harvested more than 100 acres of vegetables that were sold locally and by Hannaford, Native Maine Produce and Pennrose Farms.

In a 2012 promotional video for Hannaford, Grant described himself as a hard worker similar to other farmers running small farms.

“Like most small farmers, I’m the marketing guy, the guy that answers the phones and the guy that drives the tractor,” he said. “I work hard to grow the best quality corn, beans, pumpkins and tomatoes.”

The auction will begin at 10 a.m. Thursday at 77 Grant Road in Saco.

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: grahamgillian

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