The Maine Coast Heritage Trust has launched a new $3 million fundraising campaign for upgrades to a popular educational farmland preserve in Rockport. 

The trust owns Aldermere Farm and maintains the neighboring Erickson Fields, according to a statement. The trust listed among the proposed improvements a new 9,175-square-foot dual-purpose barn and visitor center, including a wheelchair-accessible vestibule and viewing balcony.

“Over and over again, we've heard from people that they want to see the cows, especially the baby calves,” said Aldermere Farm and Erickson Field Manager Heidi Baker. “We're excited to have an opportunity for people to view them safely from above like I did as a little girl in the hayloft growing up on a farm.”

Both the farm and the fields have a history dating back to the 19th century. The last private owner of the farm itself, Albert Chatfield, Jr., bequeathed the farm to the trust upon his death in 1999. The farm had already been managing the adjoining fields since the 1980s, and when the Erickson family sold the fields, they worked out an agreement with the trust to keep managing the fields. Today, according to the Mid Coast Heritage Trust, the farm functions as an educational and demonstration farm, offering tours and special events that bring in about 2,000 people per year.

“Aldermere Farm and Erickson Fields were originally established as working farms, not as public preserves,” said Kate Stookey, the new president and CEO of Maine Coast Heritage Trust. “Yet for generations, they have done a remarkable job of welcoming thousands of annual visitors while fostering powerful connections between the food we eat and the land that sustains us. All of us at MCHT are excited to launch a campaign in support of these iconic preserves so they can do an even better job of serving our community and deepening a broad appreciation for sustainable agriculture and land conservation.”

In addition to the larger structure, the trust also proposes building three smaller buildings, performing trail upgrades, new signage and farming equipment. The trust has set Dec. 31 as its deadline to raise money for these projects.