Aldermere Farm Celebrates 20 Years as an MCHT Preserve
Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Aldermere Farm is more than Belted Galloways and the sounds of kids laughing in the barnyard. It’s more than open rolling pastures, moss-coated stone walls, and the old oak trees shading Russell Avenue. It’s what all of these distinctive features, added up, have come to mean to people in Rockport and beyond.
Aldermere Farm is precisely the kind of place from which we derive a sense of place, and Rockport wouldn’t be the same without it. You’ll find proof in Rockport’s promotion materials for the town’s 125th anniversary, or in the “oreo cookie cow” arts and crafts lining the shelves in downtown gift shops. Or you might just ask someone from the community to imagine what might have been if Albert Chatfield Jr. hadn’t so generously worked with Maine Coast Heritage Trust to protect Aldermere.
Mr. Chatfield passed away in June of 1999—almost exactly 20 years ago. In his final act of love for the farm, he bequeathed Aldermere Farm to MCHT, adding several additional conservation easement restrictions to preserve the farm’s scenic and ecological integrity forever.
Since then, MCHT has strived to hold on to what makes Aldermere Farm so special, caring for the land and world-class herd while adopting new programs, like Aldermere Achievers 4-H program and Farm Hands, and holding events, like Calf Unveiling Day, to further connect the midcoast community with the working saltwater farm. The power and impact of this programming, initiated by former General Manager Ron Howard and lovingly stewarded by the current Manager Heidi Baker, inspired programming at other MCHT preserves in Rockport and on Mount Desert Island.
For many, the programming at Aldermere Farm proves life-changing. Before she started 4-H, Elizabeth Eaton hardly spoke or looked strangers in the eye; this year she was placed in the top ten at a state public speaking competition—not to mention the numerous blue ribbons she’s won for animal husbandry over her years in the 4H program. Elizabeth calls Aldermere Farm her “second home.”
When we asked people what Aldermere Farm means to them that word “home” comes up a lot. “I don’t feel like I’ve been home until I see my cows,” says Martha O’Connell, who grew up in Camden, and has lived away for the last 30 years. “We have been coming to the Camden area for over 25 years and most of them, I have driven by the farm every Sunday morning on my way to Quaker Meeting,” says Linda Heinl. “Peace and tranquility! The love of nature. It feels like all is right with the world for a few precious minutes.”
Below, more community members and visitors share what Aldermere Farm means to them. Do you have something to add? We’d love to hear from you! Please email your thoughts and stories to .
“I've lived down the street from Aldemere (on and off) for 40 years. We just sold our house, and I still make sure to drive down Russell/Chestnut so I can drive by the farm. Truly one of the loveliest spots in Camden. Love walking by and chatting with the cows (or sheep or whatever is in the pen) on my way by. Love the chance to smell a farm. Love the trees that line the roads. Love a fresh snow on the farm, the awakening of spring, the fields in the summer. Such an amazing, special place to have in our midst.” – Robin McIntosh
“I've sawed Lumber for Aldemere farm for years. They treat me like I'm part of the team. Very friendly people with one of the best farms around.” – Mike Dostie
“When I return to the Camden area the thing I look most forward to is seeing those beautiful cows in that picturesque setting. What a treasure was given and you can see how it is treated as such. I wish I could visit more often, or live in the area and volunteer. Maybe it brings back memories of our old farm or my grandparents farm. Maybe it reminds me how important my life on those farms was and how it shaped my life. I see the young kids working with smiles on their faces and know they will never forget their time there. I know I won't. Thank you all for your hard work and dedication. And thank you for sharing it with me.” – Heidi Perna
“When I come up to visit my parents in Rockport each Summer, we have visited the farm and cows. I always make it a point to go running past the farm each year. It is my happy place. And I have a bonafide piece of Beltie art from the art show there to remind me of it when I am at home in Virginia.” – Kristen Posson Chaddock
“Aldermere Farm offered the best summer internship experience I had during my college career! The experiences on the farm, the passionate staff and 4-H families, and friendships made are unmatched.” – Drake A. Babcock
“I spent several years in the Farms Hands program, probably 14-15 years ago. I got to know Ron Howard really well and the time I spent with them and the interns was amazing. I’m so thankful for learning how to treat the calves, how to brush and lead them, how to soothe them and motivate them. It was something I want my own daughter to experience too!” – Brielle Morin