August 26, 2019
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Fermentation company buys Maine farm to preserve farmland

Alexander Violo | Lincoln County News
Alexander Violo | Lincoln County News
Thirty Acre Farm plans to renovate this barn across from 145 Waldoboro Road in Bremen and to build a new barn and greenhouse on the property.

The family behind Thirty Acre Farm of Whitefield hopes to buy a property on Route 32 in Bremen, transform the property into its headquarters and ensure it remains farmland forever.

After two meetings, the Bremen Planning Board approved Thirty Acre Farm’s application to renovate a barn, build a new barn and build a greenhouse at the roughly 32-acre property.

According to planning board Chair Walter Voskian, the board took two meetings to rule on the farm’s application, eventually approving it with the caveat that the town office needs to receive several documents before construction can begin on the property, across from 145 Waldoboro Road.

“There will be no construction until we get the requested documents,” he said.

Voskian said the matter was in front of the board during a regular meeting Jan. 8 and an emergency meeting Jan. 15, when the application was approved after substantial discussion.

Voskian said Thirty Acre Farm’s proposals for the site include renovating an existing 37-foot-by-46-foot barn, building a new 60-by-100 barn, and building a new 30-by-72 greenhouse.

Mary Sue Weeks owns the property, according to Voskian.

Simon Frost, an owner of Thirty Acre Farm, said the business has a signed a purchase-and-sale agreement for the property.

Though the approval process was not quick, it allowed the board to lay out a procedure for commercial applications, according to Voskian, who said the board used a decision document as part of the approval.

“There was considerable discussion, but we established a precedent for complex commercial applications. We are now equipped with a procedure and a decision document for future applications,” Voskian said.

Voskian said the applicant must provide a copy of the deed and covenants for the property, a copy of a potential agricultural conservation easement, a copy of the septic design, a Maine Department of Transportation permit for access from Route 32 if the DOT deems it necessary, a site sketch, and a certificate of occupancy.

According to Voskian, additional conditions include an agreement that construction will begin within a year and conclude within two years, that the contractor must have certification for erosion prevention, and that any composting is done in a manner that prevents odor.

Additional permitting required for the project includes approval from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry and a mobile food vending license for farm products once the business is open.

Voskian said the basis of the board’s discussion was gathering additional information from the applicant and not on the proposed use of the site.

“It was not a concern over use but rather a dotting of i’s and crossing of t’s,” Voskian said.

The field and woodlands of the property will be placed in an agricultural conservation easement through the Maine Farmland Trust, a nonprofit based in Belfast, according to Voskian.

Frost, of Alna, said the project is in its introductory stages, with several steps to go before Thirty Acre Farm can move onto the Bremen property. He said the farm has been in business for 14 years.

Frost said the farm has been based in Whitefield since about 2005 and currently leases commercial kitchen space after selling the Whitefield property with hopes of relocating to Bremen.

The Bremen property offers Thirty Acre Farm a good balance of work and family benefits, according to Frost.

“It’s close to home, has good farmland, and seems to suit our needs,” Frost said.

The company makes certified organic lacto-fermented products, including sauerkraut, according to its website.

If the relocation is successful, Frost said the plan is to utilize 10 acres of the Bremen property for farming and to use the greenhouse to produce the business’s products.

According to Frost, the farm would grow cabbage, carrots, and other vegetables on the property.

Frost said the goal is to have the Maine Farmland Trust obtain a conservation easement on the property to ensure the fields retain their historical use as a forever farm.

Forever farm is a designation for properties that have been protected with agricultural conservation easements, according to the Maine Farmland Trust website.

Frost said financing needs to be secured for the conservation easement.

Voskian said Adam Maltese, of A. Maltese Design in Damariscotta, assisted Thirty Acre Farm with its application.

Maltese, a family friend of Simon and Jane Frost, described the project as a win-win-win for the applicant and the town of Bremen.

“The farmland trust gets farm space, the town gets to keep it as fields, and Thirty Acre Farm expands its growing operation,” Maltese said.

According to Weeks, the property has been a farm for hundreds of years.

“The whole property has been in my family for well over 200 years,” she said, and the farm is mentioned in her great-grandfather’s journal.

Les Fossel, a restoration expert from Alna, looked at the barn and said the original beams are hand-hewn, not sawed, placing construction of the building around the Revolutionary War era, according to Weeks.

 



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