(August 8th, 2019) After a major fundraising effort, Loon Echo Land Trust (LELT) is excited to announce that we have purchased and protected 252 acres of forestland surrounding Bridgton Historical Society’s Narramissic Farm in South Bridgton.
“We received incredible support from the community for this conservation project,” says Matt Markot, Loon Echo Land Trust’s (LELT) Executive Director. “The site of a once prosperous and well known family farm in South Bridgton, this land has great cultural, historical and ecological significance. We’ve chosen to call this land ‘Peabody-Fitch Woods’ in honor of the families who settled and farmed here. Now protected, this land will continue to benefit our community forever.”
The forest was originally part of the historic Peabody-Fitch Farm (now called Narramissic), which was established in 1797, just three years after Bridgton was incorporated. Margaret Monroe purchased the property in 1938. She left the farm buildings and fields to Bridgton Historical Society when she passed away in 1986.
Monroe’s daughter, Margaret “Peg” Normann, spent many of her summers at Narramissic and owned the 252 forested acres surrounding the farmstead. Peg passed away on June 11th, 2019.
“Loon Echo’s permanent conservation of this land is a fitting tribute to her love for the farm that she knew for so much of her life,” said the Bridgton Historical Society in a statement.
“We are thrilled to see the dreams that our mother and grandmother had – to make Narramissic and the surrounding land a place for others to enjoy – coming to fruition,” said Kristin (Normann) Mudge, daughter of Peg Normann and grandaughter of Margaret Monroe. “They would be so pleased! My siblings and I are excited and grateful that Loon Echo Land Trust and the Bridgton Historical Society are greeting this new venture with such energy and enthusiasm, and that our family’s beloved farm will forever remain intact.”
The Normann Family’s decision to conserve the property is noteworthy. Ned Allen, Bridgton Historical Society’s Executive Director, notes the significance of conserving the land surrounding the farmstead. “One of the most important components of Narramissic’s historic significance is its isolation from contemporary architectural and landscape features.”
Under our ownership and management, Peabody-Fitch Woods will never be developed, but the property will remain on the municipal tax roll. This acquisition also secures public access for recreational opportunities including hunting, walking, and nature observation. We will enhance the existing pedestrian trails located on the property and work with local clubs to ensure that a snowmobile and ATV corridor on the property remains accessible.
We will construct a new universal access trail over the next year that will take visitors on a walk through time. When completed, the trail will provide glimpses into the farm’s agricultural past and vistas of westerly mountains. Informational signs along the universal access trail will provide insight into the Peabody and Fitch families’ pioneering efforts.
“The Peabody, Fitch, Monroe and Normann families left an amazing legacy,” says LELT’s Stewardship Manager and South Bridgton resident Jon Evans, “We [LELT] are proud to now have the responsibility of protecting and managing this land forever.”
Peabody-Fitch Woods will also support a variety of cultural, educational and recreational activity. We are collaborating with the Bridgton Historical Society to plan new collaborative events that will take advantage of access to the farm and the woods.
The conservation of Peabody-Fitch Woods also increases forest connectivity, provides valuable wildlife habitat, and aids in the protection of the Sebago Lake watershed. Seventy-five percent of the forest is located within the Sebago Lake watershed, prompting Portland Water District to make a significant contribution to the project. “Forests filter water naturally, so these woods will help keep Sebago Lake – and all the ponds and streams between the property and Sebago Lake – clean forever. This is why our company is so supportive of Loon Echo’s work,” says Portland Water District Environmental Manager Paul Hunt.
We also received generous support from many community members, charitable foundations (including The Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, Kendal C. and Anna Ham Charitable Foundation, Fields Pond Foundation, Davis Conservation Foundation, Morton-Kelly Charitable Trust and an anonymous family foundation) and Sebago Clean Waters for this project. Thank you to everyone who contributed and helped conserve this special place.
We invite you to join us for a sunset concert with Bruce Marshall at Narramissic Farm on Wednesday, August 14th at 6:00 PM to celebrate the conservation of Peabody-Fitch Woods. Bring chairs, blankets, and a picnic for a fun evening outdoors. Carpooling is advised. Suggested donation of $10/person with proceeds to benefit Peabody-Fitch Woods and the Bridgton Historical Society.
More information about Peabody-Fitch Woods can be found at www.lelt.org/pfw.