The state’s population has risen about 20 percent since Scarborough Land Trust was founded 38 years ago, and the town’s population has jumped 109 percent. While those numbers – shared by board president Betts Armstrong – may have been new to many guests at the trust’s annual dinner at Broadturn Farm on Aug. 24, the increasing pace of development is palpable.

“There’s a sense of urgency for the land trust to conserve as many last special places as quickly as we can,” said Executive Director Andrew Mackie.

Between ticket sales, donations and support from 32 business partners led by Cabela’s, The Downs and Piper Shores, the dinner raised over $87,000 for land conservation and stewardship.

“Scarborough is getting bigger and bigger all the time with more development going on, and we feel it’s important to have land saved for future generations,” said Tom Ranello of sponsor Ranello Group Re/Max Shoreline.

The dinner sells out in advance year after year – even with tickets going for $200 per person. “It’s a real feel-good event,” said board member Nancy Ravin.

Guests enjoyed a cocktail reception with charcuterie and oysters, a sit-down family-style dinner by Dandelion Catering, and pastries and Beal’s ice cream under the stars.


The venue, Broadturn Farm, is a Scarborough Land Trust property leased by John Bliss and Sen. Stacy Brenner as a working farm specializing in floral bouquets and hosting weddings. “This is a way for us to give back and thank the community for saving farmland and open space in Scarborough,” Brenner said.

Continuing a tradition started at the 2022 dinner, the trust named a Conservationist of the Year – technically conservationists, plural, this time. The honor went to Lee Sprague, 83, and her late husband George Sprague, who financially supported the land trust when it purchased its first property, Libby River Preserve, in 1996. The 1.6-mile Lucy R. Sprague trail is named in memory of the couple’s daughter.

The trust has conserved 1,600 acres to date, prioritizing natural and agricultural resources, wildlife habitat, healthy waterways and public recreation. During the dinner, the nonprofit announced that two properties were under contract: Beaver Brook Preserve, 30 acres off West Beech Ridge Road with frontage along Beaver Brook, and Silver Brook Preserve, 18 acres of forest and wetland off Hanson Road that is part of the Casco Bay watershed. (Since then, one more property has gone under contract: 11 acres of pitch pine bog off Gorham Road that will be part of Warren Woods Preserve.)

“What Scarborough Land Trust is doing is the heart and soul of conservation in America,” said guest speaker Jerry Bertrand, former president and executive director of Massachusetts Audubon Society.

Supporters volunteer as trail stewards, raise their paddles with financial pledges and – in some cases – donate land that fits the trust’s criteria and has conservation value.

“My father was a farmer here in Scarborough, and I feel the land was really his and I just inherited it,” said longtime member Shirley Curry, who is considering a donation. “I think he would approve and would love to save some for farming.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at

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