FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 1, 2014
Press contact: Mike Parker, Board President, Presumpscot Regional Land Trust
Contact (207) 893-1627 or (207) 839-4633
On August 14th, long-time resident of Standish and owner of the popular Randall Orchards, Richard Randall, placed an agricultural conservation easement on his 297 acres with the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust (PRLT). Combined with another conservation easement on 185 mostly wooded and contiguous acres that he donated in December 2011, this permanently protects 482 acres in Standish and Gorham from development and subdivision to ensure a future for farming in one of the fastest growing areas in Maine.
Many local people know of Randall Orchards from Mr. Randall’s farm stand, his Pick-Your-Own apples, and his delicious cider; many have grown accustomed to seeing Randall Orchards apples sold at Hannaford stores. Others may know the scenic approach to the farm off Route 25 in Standish. Randall Orchards is an iconic farm in the region and will remain so by virtue of this action. Randall Orchards represents one of the largest blocks of undeveloped land in the area, and is one of the last agricultural farms in Standish, featuring 100 acres of apple orchards (approximately 7,500 trees), good agricultural soils, and nearly 400 acres of woodland and streams in close proximity to the Greater Portland population center.
“This is a truly great event for the community,” says PRLT Board President, Michael Parker, “The Land Trust appreciates the many organizations, agencies, and people who got us here with their hard work and financial support. Chief among them are the primary funders— the State of Maine’s, Land for Maine’s Future Program (LMFP) and the USDA’s Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) — and, of course, landowner Dick Randall, whose vision and commitment have inspired us from the start. It’s been a pleasure and an honor for the land trust to help ensure that this landmark remain intact and that it be conserved as farmland for generations to come. The timing couldn’t be better, either. In a matter of days, hundreds of people will be enjoying the fall tradition of picking apples at Randall Orchards.”
“The Land for Maine’s Future Program congratulates Dick Randall and is partners for this significant achievement,” said Ed Meadows, Director, Land for Maine’s Future Board. “As a cultural and agricultural landmark with a long history as a working farm, the fact that it continues to thrive makes this an outstanding land conservation project. The success of this conservation effort supports agricultural, forestry and natural resource based businesses near Maine’s population centers, maintains wildlife habitat and provides open space, all of which are important to Maine people and consistent with LMF’s mission.”
“The USDA Ranch and Farm Lands Protection Program is playing an important role in ensuring that lands stay in agriculture and provide open spaces for future generations,” said Cathee Pullman, Acting State Conservationist for NRCS in Maine. “Keeping this land in agriculture will help preserve its agricultural, historical and natural resources. We are pleased to be a partner in this effort.”
Since the start of this farmland protection project in 2010, PRLT has raised more than $110,000 for the necessary transactional costs associated with this project. These include appraisals, surveying, environmental site assessment, baseline documentation and legal fees. Community support has been enthusiastic with donations from individuals and businesses exceeding $41,000 and generous foundation grants from Davis Conservation Foundation, Elmina B. Sewell Foundation, Fields Pond Foundation, Maine Farmland Trust, and Maine Community Foundation’s Twombly Family Fund. Additionally, the Town of Gorham contributed $20,000 from its open space account and the Town of Standish, $5,000. Maine Farmland Trust donated two grants, guided PRLT in the process of gaining the sponsorship of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to apply for LMF funding, and will continue to advise PRLT in its stewardship role. Maine Boundary Consultants and Summit Environmental Consultants provided significant financial support and in-kind contributions to the project.
Four generations of the Randall family have played an important role in the Standish community. The farm was purchased by Mr. Randall’s grandfather, Edgar, in 1905. He moved into the 1776 farmhouse and there began the Randall farm lineage. Since then, the Randall farm has produced a wide array of agricultural products, ranging from vegetables, wood products, and eggs, to a dairy herd and hay for the animals during WWII, to the expansive and professional apple operation of today. The easement will allow Mr. Randall to continue the family tradition of limited public access. With the landowner’s permission, citizens will still be able to enjoy low impact recreational activities such as picking apples, walking, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, snowmobiling and hunting.
When Mr. Randall first spoke to PRLT about his property in 2009, he talked about its farming history and his passion to protect it from development. “In 50 years, I don’t believe there will be many places so close to Portland with this many acres of farm and forest for people to enjoy,” Mr. Randall said. “I want to make sure I preserve this land as a farm for the future.” Now, thanks to his personal commitment and grant funding from LMF and FRPP, he has achieved a future for his farm just as he envisioned it.
The conservation of these 482 acres will provide benefits to Maine residents and visitors for generations to come by forever protecting the important agricultural soils that are key to a farm’s long-term productivity. In addition, the working farm and forest will also provide scenic viewscapes, woodlands and open space in a fast-developing region, and protect environmental resources, such as large block of contiguous wildlife habitat, forested wetlands, and ground water quality in the Sebago Lake Watershed, the source of drinking water for Greater Portland.
The Presumpscot Regional Land Trust (PRLT) is a conservation stewardship organization founded in 1986 whose mission is to conserve and protect natural lands and historic landscapes for posterity in the Presumpscot River watershed and western shore area of Sebago Lake. In fulfillment of its mission, PRLT uses easements or ownership to acquire significant interests in outstanding lands that preserve the natural character of the region, most particularly those that: preserve critical wildlife habitat; afford public access for recreational opportunities; are located near water (including rivers, lakes, ponds, wetlands); are large and contiguous blocks; are adjacent to existing conservation lands; are important for agricultural uses; and possess strong visual and scenic qualities. At the forefront of land protection efforts along much of the northern portions of the Presumpscot River, the PRLT is the only land trust in Maine whose land protection efforts focus on the Presumpscot River watershed and western shore area of Sebago Lake. Today, the growing legacy includes more than 1,062 acres forever protected in the towns of Gorham, Standish, Gray, Sebago, Westbrook and Windham.