Friday, March 26, 2010

Voters will be asked to help preserve the Deb-Tone Farm in North Berwick. (Courtesy photo) Conservation of North Berwick Farm Goes Before Voters

According to ME DOT, on average 9,000 motorists drive by Deb-Tone Farm on Route 4 every day and for them Deb-Tone Farm provides the bucolic foreground of one of the most scenic vistas of Mt. Agamenticus and the Tatnic Hills. For residents of North Berwick, Deb-Tone is a beloved example of the agrarian roots of this community and an iconic feature of their hometown.
At this year’s town meeting on April 10th, North Berwick residents will have the opportunity to help permanently protect this farm and view. Article 3 of the 2010 Town Warrant proposes allocating a portion of the town’s Open Space Fund toward the conservation of Deb-Tone Farm. Monies in the Open Space fund were generated from impact fees assessed on new residential development and do not come from the general revenues raised by taxation.
Conservation of Deb-Tone Farm began in March of last year, when the owners, Kenney and Marion Goodwin, contacted Great Works Regional Land Trust about permanently protecting the farm through a conservation easement. Great Works Regional Land Trust’s Farmland Protection program has conserved 21 farms and over 1,000 acres to date and has received statewide recognition for its efforts. Deb-Tone’s rich agricultural soils and location within the 500+ acre working landscape of Cabbage Hill made it eligible for 50% funding for the acquisition of its development rights through the federal Farm and Ranchland Protection Program. The April 10th vote will be the first step toward raising the local match to these federal funds.
The campaign to protect Deb-Tone Farm has until January 2011 to raise the $230,000 needed to purchase the easement and reimburse the upfront expenses associated with the project such as surveys and appraisals. $102,000 has been committed toward the project by the federal FRPP program, Maine Farmland Trust and individual donors. The proposed commitment from the town of North Berwick is for $40,000, which was endorsed by the Board of Selectmen and the North Berwick Budget Committee.
An information session is scheduled for March 31st at 7:30 p.m. at the Community Room at the Woolen Mill in North Berwick for the public to learn more about Deb-Tone Farm and the role conservation easements play in saving farmland. Information is also available at the land trust website or by calling the land trust office at (207) 646-3604.
Photo caption: Voters will be asked to help preserve the Deb-Tone Farm in North Berwick. (Courtesy photo)