The goal is to fund the construction of a dual-purpose barn and visitor center at Aldermere Farm, including a wheelchair-accessible vestibule, grain room, washroom, storage areas, office, as well as a balcony, providing a top-down view of the working barn below.
Both Aldermere Farm and Erickson Fields are well known in the Midcoast, treasured for their agrarian, educational and recreational roots. Both, just a few miles apart, provide food, recreation, youth programming, farmer support services, and public demonstration of an environmentally sustainable agricultural way of life.
MCHT has set a December 31 deadline to meet its fundraising goal.
“Over and over again, we've heard from people that they want to see the cows, especially the baby calves,” said Aldermere Farm and Erickson Field Manager Heidi Baker, in a news release. “We're excited to have an opportunity for people to view them safely from above like I did as a little girl in the hayloft growing up on a farm.”
The proposed plan is to remove six of the nine buildings on the site, many in dire need of repair, and construct a single new structure to consolidate farm functions while increasing accessibility to visitors.
Aldermere Farm currently hosts approximately 2,000 people per year through weekly tours and special events, including calf unveiling days held in the springtime.
With a new barn/visitor center, and improved accessibility and recreational opportunities, the public will get an even closer look at the 136-acre farm, which was placed under protection of MCHT in 1999.
“Aldermere Farm and Erickson Fields were originally established as working farms, not as public preserves,” said Kate Stookey, president and CEO of Maine Coast Heritage Trust. “Yet for generations, they have done a remarkable job of welcoming thousands of annual visitors while fostering powerful connections between the food we eat and the land that sustains us.
“All of us at MCHT are excited to launch a campaign in support of these iconic preserves so they can do an even better job of serving our community and deepening a broad appreciation for sustainable agriculture and land conservation.”
Camden architect Joseph Russillo designed the 9,175-square-foot (62-foot by 153-foot) open-air barn, which incorporates a 840-square-foot visitor center at Aldermere Farm. Other improvements include:
A new 792-square-foot bull barn at Aldermere Farm to house breeding bulls;
A new 880-square-foot pasture shelter at Aldermere Farm to keep cattle safe and prevent over-grazing;
A permanent 660-square-foot storage barn at Erickson Fields to store tools and equipment, replacing a temporary tarp building;
Trail upgrades at both preserves to allow a wider variety of experiences for visitors of all abilities;
New signage at both preserves to educate visitors about sustainable cattle farm operations, regenerative farming and land conservation on Maine’s coast;
Essential new equipment, including a solar array, tractor, truck, and transport van; and
An increased endowment for both preserves to protect essential infrastructure and ensure long-term sustainability.
“Aldermere Farm and Erickson Fields are powerful examples of Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s mission to create more public access to coastal lands while supporting community engagement and protecting the natural and historical integrity of the coast,” said MCHT Planned Giving Officer David Warren. “Through these preserves, MCHT works to connect thousands of people to the land, feed the local community, inspire youth, support fellow farmers, and demonstrate sustainable farming practices.”
Warren noted that the total $3 million funding need includes $2 million for Aldermere Farm (approximately $1 million for the barn and visitor center); $500,000 for Erickson Fields; and $500,000 for an endowment.
“Aldermere Farm is a treasured icon of our coastal community,” said Amy Rollins, Member Services Director at Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce. “It's a public preserve that provides open space and access to meaningful programming that is valued by residents and visitors of all ages and abilities. I expect there will be tremendous support for a new barn and visitor center, with trail improvements and new signage rounding out the enhancements that will benefit us all.”
“Over the years, we’ve done as much as possible with what we have, but it’s time to make a significant and meaningful investment in these preserves,” said Baker. “I just know the impact of this campaign, if successful, will be tremendous for everyone in our community.”
Aldermere Farm and Erickson Fields Project Timeline
Phase 1: 2021 (Completed)
Pasture and Bull Barns
Phase 2: 2022
Aldermere Farm Barn and Visitor Center
Erickson Fields Storage Facility
Solar Panels for New Structures
Reestablished Pastures at Erickson Fields
Visitor Center Educational Display
Phase 3: 2023 & Beyond
Redesign of Production Barn at Erickson Fields
Trail Upgrades at Both Preserves
Production and Transportation Van for Erickson Fields
Upgrades to Historical Buildings at Aldermere Farm
Equipment Needs at Both Preserves
ABOUT MAINE COAST HERITAGE TRUST
MCHT is a dynamic, multifaceted organization with initiatives ranging from preserving coastal access for communities to high impact ecological work focused on reconnecting waterways and improving coastal resiliency to climate change. A leader in Maine’s nationally renowned land conservation efforts since 1970, MCHT maintains a growing network of almost 150 coastal and island preserves free and open to everyone and leads the 80-member Maine Land Trust Network to ensure that land conservation provides benefits to all Maine communities. Get involved at www.mcht.org.