Chad Strater was instrumental in Sea Meadow Marine Foundation’s purchase of the boat yard on Even Keel Road in Yarmouth. Contributed / Molly Haley

When Rebecca Rundquist saw for sale signs go up at a boatyard on the Cousins River in Yarmouth in 2020, she wondered who would buy it and for what purpose. It wasn’t until an oyster farmer told her he was worried about the sale of working waterfront property that she decided to find out.

Rundquist and dock builder Chad Strater – who worked out of the boatyard, then called Even Keel Marine – met with the owners.

One year later, Sea Meadow Marine Foundation, a nonprofit that works to protect working waterfronts in Maine, was born. Two years later, the foundation purchased the boatyard. Now called Sea Meadow Marine, it supports 32 families in various marine industries, including clamming, boat building and aquaculture. It also offers educational programs and plans a slow, eco-friendly expansion.

At that first meeting, Rundquist, Strater and the owners struck a deal.

The boat yard on the Cousins River. Contributed / Molly Haley

“They really didn’t want to sell it to a developer. They wanted to protect space for their own business, but also for working waterfront,” Rundquist said.

The owners gave Rundquist and Strater two years to figure out how to buy the boatyard, located on Even Keel Road. In the meantime, Strater would manage the property and pay a monthly fee.


“I ran it as a yard, so with that monthly amount, it was essentially like I was renting the yard from them in totality,” Strater said.

Over the course of a year, the duo decided the best way to acquire the property and save the working waterfront, which includes about 7 acres of salt marsh and 4 acres of land, was to establish a nonprofit.

“With the help of (Sen.) Angus King’s office, we formed a nonprofit and a board,” said Rundquist, who previously started the tree-awareness Frank Knight Foundation in Yarmouth and is a manager of the Cumberland Wood Bank.

Funded by a USDA loan via Coastal Enterprises Inc., Sea Meadow Marine Foundation acquired the boatyard in December 2021 for $1.22 million.

For Strater, the preservation was personal.

“I’m one of them,” Strater said. “I work on the water, I build docks and piers.”


Access to a working waterfront is important for families and small businesses, he said. While large businesses have the ability to own big piers and co-ops, it’s difficult for small businesses to have that same opportunity.

“Working waterfront in Maine is kind of a way of life for Mainers,” Strater said. “Without the actual thing there, it goes away.”

The last year has been successful for the foundation. It held programs on working waterfronts in schools and with students at Maine College of Art and Design and MIT on designing innovative buildings.

“We’re moving really slowly on purpose, because we want to create green, environmental infrastructure,” Rundquist said.

Two of Sea Meadow’s sea farmers opened the Freeport Oyster Bar in June, and Rundquist emphasized that the ability to farm oysters as locally as Yarmouth is a benefit to the farmers.

“They’re literally able to land their catch and drive up the street,” Rundquist said. “It provides a venue for other farmers as well.”

In the future, Sea Meadow hopes to create aquaculture apprenticeship and training programs and give those starting out a place to sea farm without having to buy their own sites.

“I think that we really want to be able to help new people in aquaculture more,” Strater said. “That’s one of our big goals, is just having the resources to help farmers and other working waterfronts get what they need to survive, if not thrive.”

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