Family farm protected for new generations
Maine Farmland Trust recently closed on the purchase of an easement that protects a 347-acre farm in Freedom.
Bennett Farm, owned by Steve and Judy Bennett, is a hay and beef farm with a large sugaring operation and a sustainably managed woodlot.
The purchased easement, a legal agreement in which a land trust purchases the development rights on a specified piece of land, ensures that the property will remain a contiguous farm and can be transferred as a farm to the next generation of the Bennett family.
The family has been farming this land since 1980. During that time, they have consistently followed conservation practices, adopting forest management plans and other long-term stewardship procedures.
Three generations of the Bennett family were present for the closing. Eventually, the Bennetts would like to pass the land on to their children, one of whom, Erin (and her husband Jason), owns one of the now-protected parcels.
The young couple aims to continue farming and even possibly expand the property. And their children—although still only in elementary school—already talk about farming it when they grow up.
Unlike many of Maine Farmland Trust's land protection projects, Bennett Farm is not in an area of high development pressure.
Yet rural farmland, especially properties like Bennett Farm, with rolling hills and sweeping vistas, is still in danger of being subdivided into individual house lots, which severely decreases the viability of the land for farming.
Protecting one piece of land in a community supports the future of farming in the greater area.
Maine Farmland Trust is a statewide organization with a mission to protect farmland, support farmers, and advance farming in Maine.
Since 1999, the organization has protected over 37,000 acres of farmland throughout the state, while supporting over 400 farm families. The purchased easement program was added in 2012 to help further encourage farmland protection.