Three generations of the Gaudette family at home on Lucy Brook Farm in North Conway. (Photo by Cheryl Senter.)

Three generations of the Gaudette family at home on Lucy Brook Farm in North Conway. (Photo by Cheryl Senter.)

On a mission to sustain local farms

The Upper Saco Valley Land Trust works to make sure that North Country farmland remains farmland forever

The realtors call. Kim and Randy Gaudette politely decline the offers.

They are the fourth generation of the Lucy family to farm this 88-acre parcel of land fronting on the Saco River in North Conway, with views of Cathedral Ledge and easy access to the famed Diana’s Baths. They keep goats and chickens and pigs and alpacas and honey bees, manage a pristine sugar bush and produce vegetables.

They are trying, with help from the Upper Saco Valley Land Trust, to make sure the Lucy Brook Farm remains farmland forever.

This river valley, with its fertile floodplains and deep topsoil, boasts some of the best farmland in northern New England. The land trust has been conserving farmland since it was founded in 2000.

But conservation is not enough. The land trust is also actively helping farmers keep farming. Local Food Systems Advocate Jesse Wright coordinates farmer-driven efforts — from “scaling up” workshops to collaborative marketing campaigns — to help the region’s farms thrive.

New England produces only 12 percent of the food it consumes, with just 5 percent of land in agricultural production. Those numbers do not bode well for food security.

“If we let some of these farms go,” says Wright, “they are not coming back.”