TREMONT — As a youngster, Heidi Kelley roamed the saltwater farm where she lived, picking berries, running through fields, collecting shells and driftwood from the shore, and in the winter, sledding down the big hill behind her house.
It was an idyllic childhood, and Kelley had plenty of company.
“I grew up with five boys next door,” she said. “We had a blast.”
Thanks to Kelley and her brothers, Chandler and Rudy, and the efforts of Maine Coast Heritage Trust, many more children – and adults – will have their own memories of this 10-acre parcel in the village of Bernard.
MCHT acquired the Kelley property, which borders Cousins Creek and the Tremont Road, late last week. Funding for the purchase came from MCHT’s Mount Desert Island Land Conservation Initiative.
The Kelley farm is a property MCHT has had its eyes on for several years, said Misha Mytar, MCHT’s land project manager.
“We know there are many people who love this piece of land,” Mytar said. “It’s something we got a lot of feedback on.”
The farm has been in the Kelley family for more than 50 years.
Beyond maintaining public access, plans for the property have not been set.
“We have lots of ideas for things we’d like to see for this property,” Mytar said. “It’s really well-suited to public use.”
Some of those ideas are a community garden, walking paths and a picnic area. MCHT plans to hold a series of community meetings to gather input before proceeding with any plans, Mytar said. She expects discussions to begin sometime this winter.
The property has a home and barn. The barn is in disrepair and scheduled to be torn down, Mytar said. What will become of the house, built in the 19th century, also has to be determined.
People are welcome to visit the farm, but Mytar is asking them to stay away from the barn. The structure will be posted as unsafe.
Mytar said the farm “is a great complement” to the other properties MCHT holds.
“We hope that lots of people out there will be enjoying the property,” she said.
Kelley agrees, saying that she is elated that the farm will remain undeveloped and not become the site of condominiums or another housing project.
“I think it’s wonderful that the community can enjoy it,” she said.