McDougal Orchards is located on a portion of a 450 acre tract purchased at tax auction for fifty-two pounds ten shillings by Joshua Hanson in 1779. The land has been farmed in various ways by the same family ever since.
Up until 1930, there were 4 or 5 acres of orchard scattered throughout the farm, producing Russets, Pippins, Peewaukees, August Sweets, and other old varieties. From 1930-1933, Alva McDougal, who married Mary Hanson, planted 1600 McIntosh trees on 17 acres in what is now the Main Orchard. It was said that 400 trees per child would support a family (he had 4 children at the time). Some of these trees continue to bear fruit to this day.
Robert H. McDougal, one of Alvas sons, was responsible for the initial modernization of the operation. Dwarf trees now replace most of the big, old standard trees and a cold storage has replaced the barns former cow tie-up. Most importantly, he was the first in the area to start a pick-your-own operation in 1972, after a hailstorm destroyed any hope of a wholesale crop.
Today, McDougal Orchards operation includes 3 generations of Hanson family descendants. The farms scenic location and proximity to the beaches and lakes of York County make it an extremely desirable day-trip location.
Ellen (McDougal) and Jack McAdam presently own the business. You will still see Pat around the orchard salesroom almost daily. Robert (Bob, Mac, Dad, Grampa) passed away on December 9th 2012. He had just turned 88 a few days before. Robert and Pat had celebrated 60 years of marriage in November of 2012. He will be missed by us all.
On May 25th 2005, Robert and Pat McDougal, the owners of Hanson Farm, Inc., realized their dream to preserve the family's orchards, hayfields, pastures, and woodlands, forever. Known as McDougal Orchards to farm customers, apple aficionados and (at one time) cross-country skiers alike, the 284-acre farm located on Hanson Ridge Road is the most recent farm protected through the Land for Maine's Future Program and USDA Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program.
"For 225 years each generation of the Hanson/McDougal family has done its part in keeping this farm going," said Bob McDougal. "Today, thanks to the efforts of our daughter Ellen, our son, and many public agency partners, we're granting an agricultural conservation easement on our farm. We are doing this to slow sprawl and protect farmland to make good land available for future farmers in York County ."
Thanking the McDougals, Maine Farmland Trust's President Frank Miles said, "Maine Farmland Trust is pleased to accept the easement on this wonderfully diverse farm. We are grateful for the leadership and technical expertise contributed by the Maine Department of Agriculture and we are pleased that the federal farmland protection program is able match all state efforts dollar-for-dollar."
"Partnership is key to addressing preservation of farmland in Maine ," stated Joyce Swartzwendruber, State Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in Maine . "In cooperation with land trusts and local and state government agencies we are making a difference for the future of agriculture in Maine . The USDA congratulates the McDougals' and the Town of Sanford in their joint endeavor."
In 2002, the Town of Sanford made history by becoming the first town in Maine to approve the donation of an easement on the Town Farm as match for an Land for Maine's Future farmland project. Today, when accepting the easement, Dr. Bud Johnson, President of Mousam Way Land Trust added, "Mousam Way Land Trust is proud to partner with the Town of Sanford to preserve land that the McDougals have farmed for the past 15 years. This property is the keystone parcel in this effort because it connects all parcels owned by Hanson Farm, Inc."
Maine Department of Agriculture's Farmland Protection Specialist, Stephanie Gilbert, thanked the family for their patience and perseverance, and delivered a message from Commissioner, Robert Spear. "Many other farm families are seeking the opportunity to sell development rights and preserve their farmland as a legacy for Maine 's future. Without the funds to support new projects and with a growing list of needs statewide, this coming year will be a period of missed opportunities to preserve some of our most productive farms and farmlands. Bills presently before the Maine Legislature call for renewed funding of Land for Maine's Future and are supported by members from all parties."
"The need to replenish the Land for Maine's Future Program is driven by sweeping changes in Maine 's landscape," said Land for Maine's Future director, Tim Glidden. "Real estate prices, driven by private market demand, are increasing at double-digit rates throughout southern and coastal Maine . Indeed, our experience is that attractive properties throughout the State are drawing prices that were unheard of when the program was founded."
In an independent Land for Maine's Future evaluation and progress report; The Land for Maine's Future Program: Increasing the Return on a Sound Public Investment , published in 2004, the authors conclude "we find that there continues to be urgent need for a state-funded land conservation effort in Maine, for which there is broad public support, that Land for Maine's Future both deserves and needs to continue its efforts for the foreseeable future, and that new funding is needed at this time, to continue this most important effort."
The Land for Maine's Future Program was created in 1987 in response to concerns over the loss of critical natural area, wildlife habitat, and farmland along with traditional access to undeveloped lands for hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation. To date, the Land for Maine 's Future Program has protected over 215,000 acres of Maine 's best recreational and natural areas along with 3,977 acres of farmland. The program also seeks to protect farmlands through the purchase of development rights and public access to water for fishing boating and commercial marine activities. Working with other state agencies and numerous local governments and charitable nonprofit groups, the Land for Maine 's Future Board adheres to a "willing seller only" policy.
So when you see Pat, Ellen or Jack say "Thank You So Much".