Greg and Kay Fowler, left, turned over operations of Spring Brook Farm in 2015 to Jeff Storey. He is purchasing a 25.7-acre tract of land next to the farm, which has been in Kay Fowler’s family since 1820. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

CUMBERLAND — Nearly 26 acres of Greely Road farmland that Jeff Storey is purchasing from the town are coming home.

After working at neighboring Spring Brook Farm as a teenager three decades ago, the Cumberland man signed a 40-year lease in 2015 to operate the farm. Greg and Kay Fowler, who own the 168 Greely Road parcel, have continued to live in their house, while Storey runs the Spring Brook Farm & Market.

Kay Fowler was born on the property, which has been in her family – the Blanchards – since 1820, the year Maine became a state. She and her husband in 1996 sold 100 acres to the town, which formed much of the 200-acre Twin Brook Recreation Area.

Cumberland allowed the Fowlers, and Storey, to continue using a quarter of the land off Greely Road, between Spring Brook Farm and a railroad line, for agricultural purposes.

But with Storey’s latest purchase, due to close later this year, will put 25.7 acres back in the Spring Brook Farm fold.

“This went with the original 100 acres,” Fowler said in an Aug. 1 interview alongside her husband and Storey. The town wanted to purchase a solid 100 acres, “so we put (this parcel) on, and now we’re taking it off,” she said with a chuckle.

Storey’s lease is due to expire in 2055, when he is 80. He expects that his property and the Fowler’s will be owned and operated together in the decades to come.

“Who knows what I’m going to be doing, if I can even walk then,” he said.

“Look at us,” Fowler joked, glancing at her husband.

The Town Council on July 22 unanimously authorized Town Manager Bill Shane to execute a purchase and sale agreement with Storey. His cousin, Chairwoman Shirley Storey-King, did not vote.

Of the $225,000 purchase price, Storey is paying $45,000, with the Chebeague & Cumberland Land Trust and Maine Farmland Trust planning to contribute the balance. The land will go into a conservation easement in perpetuity, ensuring it is always used for agricultural purposes.

“For generations the Blanchard family and the Fowler family have loved, and cared for, and worked this land, and now Jeff Storey stands ready to carry it on into the future,” said Penny Asherman, president of the CCLT board. “In our rapidly developing community this is a rare and critical opportunity to support local agriculture, which we haven’t really done yet much in our community.”

Although the easement allows him to build farm-related – but not residential – structures on the parcel, Storey said he plans to make no changes, and to continue to use the property to graze animals, and to mow the grass to make hay. A corn patch on the field supplies Spring Brook’s market.

The only significant change: “Rather than borrowing it, we own it,” Storey said.

And the ownership and easement prevent any other development there. A town proposal in March to relocate its sand and salt sheds from the Public Works garage, and create a new compost and brush facility, on 14 acres of that land drew considerable heat from residents. The fervor resulted in a Town Council deadlock on the issue, which killed the proposal.

“It was pretty clear that the majority of people that evening (in March) wanted to see it just remain in agriculture,” Shane said at the July 22 meeting.

“It’s a relief to have it back,” Fowler said. “… This way we don’t have to worry about it.”

The farm and its market are open all year, offering meat, eggs, poultry, Smiling Hill Farm dairy products, and fruit and vegetables, along with hay, firewood, manure and plowing services.

“We’re not doing wholesale,” Storey said. “Everything we do is retail to the public.”

The farm’s growing population now includes approximately 90 head of cattle, 700 chickens, 20 pigs, 100 lambs and four draft horses.

“With our growth, we can’t be any smaller,” Storey said. “I’ve got 27 cows, a bull and a dozen calves that can go right from the railroad tracks up to the barn, right on this entire property. If I lost this segment, I would have to downsize, or I’d just have to move them to a different location.

“But right now, they can come home at night, and I can keep my eyes on the calves, they can come and go,” he added.

And as the world changes around them, that will likely be the way things remain.


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