Winterport considers leasing its berry fields

Posted Nov. 19, 2008, at 2:26 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 6:03 a.m.

WINTERPORT, Maine — The town is weighing a proposal to lease berry fields it owns on Blueberry Hill.

Town manager Phil Pitula said representatives of Merrill Blueberry Farm Inc. of Ellsworth outlined their plans during a meeting with the Town Council on Tuesday. Pitula said Richard and Todd Merrill believe the fields could be productive despite their not having been maintained for years.

The town has about 80 acres of fields on the hill off the Monroe Road. He said the Merrills believe about half of the acreage could be brought back into production.

“The Merrills think they can bring them back, but it will involve a lot of work and investment,” Pitula said Wednesday. “We used to have someone manage the fields years ago, but that didn’t work out. Other than bush-hogging them every few years, they haven’t been touched.”

Pitula said approximately 30 residents attended the council meeting, some of whom expressed concerns about the spraying of pesticides. He said the fields would need to be sprayed to be productive but that any chemicals used would be state approved and their application would be in limited quantities.

“There would be nothing that’s not approved or in large quantities,” he said.

Pitula said the council plans to invite the Merrills back for another meeting early next year and would put off making any decision on leasing the fields until then. That will give members an opportunity to review the proposal and consider its ramifications.

“It just gives people time to research everything,” he said.

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