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Stories from the Coast

“My mother would be dancing”

Creative Conservation Brings Old Farmland Back to Life

Marieta with her dog Brittany. They walk the trail at MCHT’s Erickson Fields Preserve every day. Copyright: Jane Kurko

Erickson Fields Preserve in Rockport offers something you’re less and less likely to find in midcoast Maine:

  • A broad swath of undeveloped land
  • A new trail through the woods, half a mile from the ocean
  • Young people working in the dirt, growing food for local pantries


Marieta Wheaton grew up on the land that is now Erickson Fields Preserve, weeding the family gardens in the summertime and sledding down Route 90 (an old country road back then) in the wintertime.

She still lives across from Erickson Fields, and, from her kitchen window, watches the goings on at the busy preserve. She sees members of MCHT’s Teen Ag Crew washing crates of harvested vegetables, parents gardening alongside their children through MCHT’s Kids Can Grow program, and volunteers loading their cars with deliveries for food pantries. These sights make her happy.

“My mother would be dancing to think of how Erickson Fields is being kept,” she says. “I think working with the soil can bring you closer to real life.”

To foster connections between people and the conserved land in their back yards—and to address the issue of food insecurity in Maine—over the past several years, Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) has sought opportunities to create community gardens on conserved land. 

In addition to Erickson Fields preserve, MCHT now hosts community gardens at Milbridge Commons, Babson Creek, and Kelley Farm preserves. Check them out! 

Harvesting the crops at Erickson Fields

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