SACO — When Drew Dumsch stepped onto River Bend Farm, he knew instantly it was the perfect new home for The Ecology School.
Nestled along the Saco River in a rural corner of Saco, the 105-acre farm has a mix of farmland, forest and ponds, plus a half-mile of river frontage. It includes a farmhouse built in 1794 and a barn from the 1840s.
“It’s just fantastic,” said Dumsch, who founded the nonprofit ecology school at Ferry Beach in 1998 and now serves as its executive director. “It will become an amazing educational center that will really celebrate the history of Saco, agriculture and ecology.”
The 17-year-old school is best known throughout the region for offering weeklong residential camps next to Saco Bay for middle school and upper elementary students in the Saco area and beyond. It also has programs for adults. The school has served 145,000 children and adults over the past 17 years and averages about 12,000 program participants a year.
Now, the ecology- and sustainability-based school is in need of a new home and getting close to final city approval that would allow the riverside property – which is under a conservation easement and in a conservation zoning district – to be used for education. However, plans to build two dormitories and a dining hall have raised questions about the appropriate use of land and whether the school is a good fit for a quiet, rural neighborhood.
Read the Portland Press Herald article for more information.