In 2015 Maine Coast Heritage Trust, the statewide land conservation organization that owns Aldermere Farm in Rockport, invested in improving public access to conserved lands, and expanded its outdoor programming. MCHT helped improve or create access at more than two dozen sites — places suited for activities such as hiking, hunting, public gardens, and shore access.

“Conserved lands bring so many benefits to Maine’s coast,” MCHT President Tim Glidden said. “This year, Maine Coast Heritage Trust stepped up as never before to fulfill the promise of this important work, and create permanent access to the land and lasting impacts for individuals and communities all along the coast.”

In Rockport, partnering with PenBay Medical Center and other groups, MCHT created a wellness trail at its Erickson Fields preserve and conserved additional land adjacent to the preserve that will eventually connect trails to the popular Beech Hill Preserve. Bob White, a neighbor who volunteered to build a kiosk for the trail, was pleased by the activity he saw on the trail. “You’d be amazed how many people are using the wellness trial already — there’s a real need for this kind of thing,” he said.

Also at Erickson Fields, MCHT operated a community garden and coordinated a Teen Agriculture program that resulted in donations of more than 12,000 pounds of food to local food pantries.

“I like to provide at least some produce in the winter,” explained Carol Watier, a volunteer with the Come Spring Food Pantry. “We have been so pleased with the lovely, fresh produce the Teen Ag Crew has delivered to us.” In addition to food pantries, Teen Ag supplied another 5,000 pounds of fresh produce to Meals on Wheels, area public schools and two area retirement homes.

The land trust carried out other projects in Casco Bay and Millbridge as well.

“All of these projects exemplify the diversity of benefits being brought to all Maine residents and communities statewide by land conservation groups,” Glidden reflected. We are grateful to all of the individuals, partners and supporters that make this work possible.”

For more information, contact Richard Knox, director of communications, at 729-7366, or visit mcht.org.