Rustlewood Farm

Saving Land and Heritage in Southern Maine: Conserving Johnson Farm from CrossCurrent Communications on Vimeo.

Habitat and Water Quality Improvement at Rustlewood Farm

Shrubland is currently being developed at KLT's recently conserved, 300-acre Rustlewood Farm. The goal of this work is to help protect the water quality of Spruce Creek and Curtts Ridge Brook and create safe habitat for wildlife like the threatened New England cottontail.

Read the article in The Portsmouth Herald.

Learn more about scrubland habitat.  

Rustlewood Conservation Finalized

(Above - below Richard and Ken Johnson sign final paperwork to relinquish their rights of development of Rustlewood Farm)

      We are thrilled to have closed on the purchase of a conservation easement at Rustlewood Farm, permanently protecting 300 acres of environmentally rich fields and forest that straddle Kittery and Eliot, Maine. With the completion of this project, we are proud to have nearly doubled the amount of conserved land overseen by KLT; 700+ acres that will be here for our grandchildren’s grandchildren and will help ensure a sustainable future for Kittery. 
      The successful completion of our three-year, community effort to preserve this historic property ensures that its important soils will continued to be farmed by the Johnson family and will be available for farming by future generations. As the last dairy farm in KitteryRustlewood maintains an important link to the region's agricultural past and now provides an on-going opportunity to grow food locally. The easement enhances efforts to protect the water quality of Spruce Creek and the York River. In addition, it safeguards vital habitat for waterfowl and wildlife, including the endangered New England cottontail rabbit. The fields of Rustlewood Farm, stretching out along both sides of Route 101, have long been prized for their scenic beauty. The Friday, January 24 closing makes certain that these fields will remain open vistas and will offer a place for the public to get outside and enjoy recreational activities like walking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing.
      The Rustlewood Farm easement allows and encourages the current and future landowners to continue working this fertile land as an agricultural enterprise. Going forward, the Johnson family will still own the land of Rustlewood, however, they have given up the rights of development. This restriction will remain in effect no matter who owns the land in the future. KLT hopes that this agriculturally rich soil will continue to be farmed for many generations to come.
      This conservation project would not have happened without the time, effort, and funds of many, many supporters. KLT is grateful to all those who helped turn this vision into a reality. KLT would first like to thank the Johnson family for choosing to conserve their land, thereby creating an invaluable legacy for our community. We want to acknowledge the citizens and Town of Kittery for their overwhelming support of this conservation project and we would like to express our appreciation to the USDA Farm and Ranchland Protection Program. And we would like to express our appreciation to the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, The 1772 Foundation, the Ram Island Endowment Challenge, the Town of Eliot, Great Works Regional Land Trust, the Davis Conservation Foundation, the Fields Pond Foundation, the Thomas W. Haas Fund of the NH Charitable Foundation, the Rosamond Thaxter Foundation, and many local individuals and businesses for their generous backing. A special thank you also goes out to Rob Nichols who worked tirelessly and with great skill as our volunteer project manager. And thank you KLT members for your on-going support that makes this work possible!

Bond for Rustlewood Passes with 84%


Open Space Bond Passes with a Resounding YES!

Thanks to you, Kittery's first open space bond passed with 84%! The bond will provide  $150,000 toward the purchase of a conservation easement on Rustlewood FarmWe were thrilled by the voting turnout and by the strong show of support for the Rustlewood conservation project. Thank you to everyone who has made this possible!
A Bond Bonus 
If the citizens of  Kittery pass the $150,000 open space bond proposed in Question 3, then the Stand Up program will provide an additional $30,000 in matching funds to be used toward purchasing the conservation easement on the land of Rustlewood Farm (leaving only $50,000 left to be raised)!

An anonymous donor at the Maine Community Foundation, created a 20% match grant program called "Stand Up and be Counted"  in order to encourage Maine towns to conserve open space through the use of municipal bonds.  

A Little Goes a Long Way

If passed the $150,000 bond would add $.012 ( a little over a penny) to the Kittery property tax rate which is currently $15.14. This very slight increase would last for the life of the bond which is expected to be 10 years.

For an average homeowner in Kittery, the total increase in their taxes for the entire 10 year life of the bond would be a little less than $40, or roughly the cost of one fill-up at the gas station. 

KLT understands the importance of fiscal restraint in these economic times yet hopes that the citizens of Kittery will view this very modest increase in their taxes as a worthwhile investment in the future of the town.

KLT not Buying a Farm but a Guarantee Land Won't be Developed

KLT is not buying the farm but a guarantee that the land won't be developed. The Johnson family will still own the land and pay taxes on it. They can sell the land to someone else, but the conservation easement stays with the land. New owners couldn't do anything to the land that isn't proscribed in the easement that KLT would hold.  

Protecting the land doesn’t assure that Rustlewood Farm will always be a farm, but it is a guarantee that the land will always be available to produce food, protect water supplies, provide habitat for wildlife, promote hunting and recreation, and preserve a link to our community’s past.

The Public Benefits of Conserving Rustlewood Farm

• Conserving 300 acres of fields and forests, open rich agricultural soils to allow for production of local food.
• Protecting the water quality of Spruce Creek and the habitat the creek's banks help support.
• Supporting a rich array of wildlife, including habitat for the threatened New England Cottontail rabbit
• Sustaining public access to outdoor recreation including , birding, hiking, biking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and snowmobiling.
• Maintaining the history and tradition of farming in Kittery.
• Preserving scenic views on both sides of Wilson Road and the rural character of Kittery.
• Providing educational opportunities for our school children about agriculture and conservation.

Rustlewood in the News

(Portsmouth Herald)
Kudos to Kittery Land Trust, residents

(Portsmouth Herald)

Vote to preserve Rustlewood

(Portmouth Herald)
Vote to preserve Rustlewood Farm

(Portsmoth Herald)
Stakes high in June 11 Maine town election

(Portsmouth Herald)

Vote for cows for conservation 

Owner hopes to save Kittery's last working dairy farm

(Portsmouth Community Radio - WSCAFM)
Interview starts at minute 11 minutes 30 seconds.
Interview with Rustlewood project manager, Rob Nichols about Rustlewood convervation project

(Portsmouth Herald)
Cow signs pop up in Kittery, asking voter support for $150K bond

(Portsmouth Herald)
Farm offers glimpse into Kittery's rural past

(Portsmouth Herald)
Kittery Rustlewood Farm project gets $50K grant

(Portsmouth Herald)
Get informed on Rustlewood Farm

(Portsmouth Herald)
Kittery residents asked to invest in Rustlewood Farm

(Portsmouth Herald)
Diary farm preservations plan advances

(Portsmouth Herald)
Year of the Farm Events

(Portsmouth Herald)
Eliot, Kittery family farms featured in film

(Portsmouth Herald)
Kittery Land Trust secures federal grant for farm easement

(Portsmouth Herald)
Kittery Land Trust gets grant for 300-acre farm easement

(Portsmouth Herald)
Eliot Residents to Vote on $25K toward purchase of Farm Easement

(Portsmouth Herald)
Johnson Farm is a cause worth supporting

(Portsmouth Herald)
Rustlewood Farm easement supported

(Portsmouth Herald)
$414 federal grant to help preserve farm

(Portsmouth Herald)
Last diary farm in Kittery work with land trust to protect parcel