Shoppers pick out fresh flowers and produce at the Crystal Spring Farmers’ Market. (Courtesy of the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust)

BRUNSWICK — Twenty-five years ago, the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust stepped in to keep Crystal Spring Farm, a property they say has been at the heart of the Brunswick farming community for generations, from becoming a large housing development. 

The property, now 320 acres of conserved land, was purchased in two pieces, according to Angela Twitchell, land trust executive director. The first 160 acres were purchased in 1994 for about $700,000, and then between 2004 and 2008, the trust raised another $2.7 million to buy the other 160 acres and renovate the existing farm buildings. 

To celebrate community and conservation over the last quarter-century, the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust is hosting a festival on Sunday afternoon with live music, locally sourced food and even a special basil-infused beer released in collaboration with the land trust and Flight Deck Brewing. 

Crystal Spring Farm is also an example of how the “community really embraced the conservation of this farm and made the community really connected to that place,” Twitchell said.

Between the two purchases, in 1999, the Crystal Spring Farmers Market was born.

The Saturday farmer’s market hosts 40 vendors every week, with as many as 3,000 visitors in a single day, including many low-income and food-insecure community members who can still have access to fresh, local produce using their Harvest Bucks and SNAP benefits.

The market “adds significant value to the local economy and supports a vibrant, more environmentally-sound food system,” according to a news release. 

Additionally, “the farm helps maintain water quality in the streams flowing into Maquoit Bay, protects groundwater in a regionally significant aquifer, hosts a rare habitat called the Sandplain Grassland (what many of us refer to as the blueberry barren), and provides trails near the local schools and downtown,” the trust said. Crystal Spring Farm was also once a dairy farm and produced Dee’s Ice Cream. 

The land also includes over five miles of trails, the community garden, the Labyrinth in the Woods and a solar array. It has become “a visible representation of the land trust’s mission, which includes conserving land while also promoting local agriculture and supporting diverse community needs,” the press release states. 

Jamison Pacheco, a land trust representative, said farming has “played a pivotal role in this community for generations,” and serves as a reminder of their that it is important for people of all ages to have ways to engage with agriculture and the land conservation, and that the community will be better for it. 

In 2012, a Trust for Public Land report titled “Return on the Investment In Land for Maine’s Future” found that for every $1 invested in public land, $11 in “natural goods and services” were returned to Maine’s economy. 

In coming months, the land trust will start planning what it wants to accomplish in the next 25 years, Twitchell said, but in the immediate future, she hopes to continue conserving “the most special places in our community,” especially local access to waters and farmland. She also wants to focus on the future stewardship of the trust’s properties by building an endowment to make sure that when they conserve land, they’re conserving it forever. 

In the meantime, Crystal Spring Farm and the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust are celebrating 25 years of continued growth from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday on the Farmer’s Market Green at 277 Pleasant Hill Road with music, food, games and activities.

Tickets are$10 for adults and $5 for children 10 and older. For tickets or more information, visit btlt.org/events 

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