The Bowdoinham Community Development Initiative is working to boost interest in its online program to help preserve farmland within the rural town.

Launched in April, the program is part of a larger Farmland Inventory Project that connects landowners with aspiring farmers who need land to farm. Currently, the website has only four active properties listed and four farmland seekers using the site.

“The project goals were to spend the summer, when most farmers are busy, connecting with more landowners to increase the number of available property listings,” said Abby Sadauckas, an agent at Land for Good, an organization that works to put more farmers on more land to ensure the future of farming. “Since the website has launched, we have added half a dozen profiles of both farmers looking for land and landowners who have land that they want to make available. However, the farmland seekers stopped looking for land as soon as the farming season began.”

In collaboration with Land for Good, Bowdoinham Community Development will work to connect farmers to the town’s available agricultural land through farmland.bcdimaine.org

As part of the outreach program, Bowdoinham Community Development is  focusing on the 72 properties it identified as having prime agricultural soils using Geographic Information Systems data.

“Our goal is to reach out to as many of those property owners as possible and see if any are interested in making their land available for farming,” Sadauckas said. “We are aware of a handful of properties that have been sold since we developed the property a few years back. We expect to see more properties listed in the fall and early winter as well as more farm seekers creating profiles then as well.”

According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Sagadahoc county, which includes Bowdoinham, had 209 farms or 17,687 acres of land in 2017 compared to 229 farms or 20,090 acres of farm land in 2012.

There are 374 farm producers in the county of which 225 are male farmers and 149 are female farmers.

Phil Cuddeback, a farmer from Portland, purchased land from a Bowdoinham resident whom he met at one of the events Bowdoinham Community Development hosted for farm-seekers before launching the website.

“The BCDI event provided me with an opportunity to meet with a landowner who was looking for a potential buyer. It just worked out between us, and I bought the land from him. The organization has created that initial connection, which I needed,” said Cuddeback.

Bowdoinham Community Development Chairperson Mary Mayo said it’s too early to tell how the website is helping farmers or either landowner.

“I think given the interest in farming and other sites similar to ours, Connecticut, for instance, has one. I think we can expect that it will be a helpful tool, not only in matchmaking, which is the immediate goal. But the long-term goal is to help people, hands-on plan, being farmed,” said Mayo.

Visit farmland.bcdimaine.org for more information.

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