The Ecology School at River Bend Farm

A 21st Century Project to Inspire and Sustain Innovative Learning

In 2019 The Ecology School will truly transform as it transitions to a new home at River Bend Farm, a historic 105-acre farm located on a scenic bend in the Saco River. The move will propel our educational initiatives by increasing program capacity and providing “live what you learn” opportunities for participants through hands-on exploration of Maine’s ecosystems, sustainable living practices, direct connection to food systems and farming along with modelling conservation-in-action.


Sustainable Design and Construction

A 7,000 square-foot dining commons and a 9,000 square-foot dormitory to be constructed on the River Bend Farm property will meet the most advanced measures of sustainability in the built environment through certifications with the Living Building Challenge. The Living Building Challenge aims to create buildings that generate more energy than they use, capture and treat all water on site, and are made using healthy materials.

The Ecology School has partnered with four leading sustainable architecture firms in Maine—Kaplan Thompson, Scott Simons, Briburn, and Richardson & Associates—to execute a site plan developed through comprehensive study of the property and analysis of programmatic design. By design, our facilities will inspire students and visitors, and support conservation of the surrounding Saco River watershed. 


Agroecology

A full-scale agroecology farm will be established at River Bend Farm, integrating ecological agricultural practices into the program curriculum and providing experiential opportunities for youth and community members to learn about farming, food security, climate resilience, and food systems.

Permaculture design, planting pest deterrent plant species, maintaining high nutrient levels in soil, and growing hearty and local plants will promote rich harvests and model responsible agroecological farming practices.


Community Programs and Partnerships

River Bend Farm will be a year-round home for growing partnership, offering community collaborators a destination to convene for meetings, year-round research, and programming. Current partnerships include:

ELLMS (Environmental Living and Learning for Maine Students) - A collaborative initiative between five residential environmental education organizations (The Ecology School, Chewonki, Bryant Pond 4-H Camp, Tanglewood 4-H Center, and Schoodic Institute at Acadia Natioanl Park) with a shared goal to provide every Maine child with a residential environmental learning center experience.

Ecology of Architecture Collaborative - Consists of four leading Maine sustainable architecture firms (Kaplan Thompson, Scott Simons, Briburn, and Richardson & Associates), who collaborate to share costs and innovating on our Living Building Challenge residential dormitory and dining commons.

Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) - Financed the purchase of River Bend Farm and has served as an important business plan advisor and provided project support through its Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems program.

Biodiversity, Ecology, and Sustainable Agriculture Advisory Group - Landscape ecologist Tom Wessels, TES Alumni Andy Wood, and Forest Management Consultant Harold Burrnett, UNE Professors, and Local & Organic Farmers helps to oversee the design and implementation of our agroecology farm.

University of New England - Ongoing field ecology research, aided by student participation and done was on-site course work, includes planting 100 American Chestnut trees, tagging monarch butterflies, planting a native tree nursery, and more.

Maine Farmland Trust - Maine Farmland Trust holds the conservation easement on 96 acres of the River Bend Farm property.

Maine Old Cemetery Association - A small family cemetery is located on the property and will be maintained, restored, and researched with help from this partner.

Read our press release about closing on River Bend Farm for more information about the project.

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We look forward to welcoming the community to our new home!

Please contact Bryan Matluk, Development Director, at (207) 571-4007 or bryan(at)theecologyschool.org for more information about
The Ecology School at River Bend Farm.