Unity Agricultural Center
Using biodynamic farming practices as a foundation and context for learning, the Unity Agricultural Center (UAC) will provide opportunities for young people to live and learn alongside peers and mentors within a vibrant, healing and value-centered community. The UAC is steeped in history and culture, community and education.
UAC can be found at Mussey and Elwell Farm Road, just minutes from Unity College. The farm consists of a mix of open fields and woodlands situated on well drained, gently rolling hills. The farm’s 130 acres of fields and pasture have been used to support a dairy operation for many years. The fields have also been used to produce beans, sweet corn, feed corn and potatoes. Approximately 44% of the property contains Farmland Soils of Statewide Importance, including large amounts of Adams and Dixmont series soils.
The farm has over one mile of frontage along the Sandy Stream and has the Mussey Brook running through the center of the property. The farm also offers public access opportunities via the Snow Dusters snowmobile trail and the Waldo County Trails Coalition Hills-To-Sea Trail.
As a local agricultural endeavor intent on supporting food security in our region, UAC will sell the majority of the food produced at both small local markets and at larger municipalities nearby.
In its inaugural season, farming at UAC will incorporate education and crafts-making, with some exciting prospective farmers planning to join soon.
A biodynamic farm that interweaves the arts with youth mentoring, BeeTree will be led by farmer-educators Peter Brady and Graziella Cervi and will build on the family’s decades of farming and leadership experience. Their vegetables will be sold in local markets throughout the region and at a farm store on premise.
A non-profit organization, Bowsprit Foundation will manage a life-skills training program at the UAC. The Foundation will offer two and three-week seasonal intensives, where between six and eight young people will be immersed in the daily farm and studio-craft schedule at the Center, working with local crafts-masters and businesses. Together students and mentors will raise fruits and vegetables, livestock for milk, cheese, eggs and meat, and sustainably harvest building timber and firewood from the woodlands at UAC. The bakery at the farm will use locally grown grains and students will have an opportunity to work in the kitchen.
Veronesi Forest Farm
Fifteen minutes from UAC in Montville is Veronesi Farm, currently owned and forest-farmed by Peter Brady and Graziella Cervi’s family. Future plans include continuing the long-term forest stewardship legacy of Eddie Veronesi through sustainable forestry internships for Bowsprit students, as well as research and study programs for college forestry programs. UAC and Veronesi Farm are linked by the “Hills to Sea Trail,” which runs between Unity and Belfast.
Biodynamic farmer Barbara Booth is in the planning phase of bringing her vision for the Honeybee-Lightroot Sanctuary to the Center. Through landscape conservation, establishing a protected apiary, and holding educational events, the Sanctuary promises to fulfill the Center’s vision of protecting and nurturing land.
Ecology Learning Center (pending)
A next prospect for UAC is the Ecology Learning Center (ELC), an independent high school, whose mission is to foster authentic learning through mentorship and craft, while cultivating compassionate and resilient leaders, prepared to engage in the challenges of today and tomorrow.
OUR INVESTMENT STRUCTURE
We bring together social, financial, and environmental capital to develop a community-focused approach to owning and leasing farm assets. The Unity Agricultural Center (the Center) is held by a coalition of financial investors, including impact investors, foundations, farmers, and other stakeholders. The Center purchases farmland, infrastructure, and farmer housing, and leases those properties to experienced farmers on a long-term basis. The Center partners with non-profit organizations, such as local land trusts, to place conservation easements on the properties and ensure they remain in agriculture permanently.
THE PROJECT TEAM
- Bob Bernstein—Founder and Managing Director of Northeast Farm Access, LLC, experienced facilitator and convener dedicated to community-based development and conserving working farms.
- Rocio Lalanda—Director of Development, with a doctorate in Geography and Environmental Science and Policy, Rocio is passionate about keeping farmland in production.
- Jacob Meyer—Legal Counsel for Northeast Farm Access, LLC.
- Walter Cudnohufsky, Inc—Land planners decades of experience in creative farm design.
- Jon Jaffe—Vice President of Farm Credit East, farm financial advisor.
(Photo credit: Robert Rodriguez Jr. for image of marigold in field.)