In 2013 the Freeport Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors determined that it wanted to recognize an extraordinary individual who has contributed to both the business and social community of Freeport.
This annual award is named the Edward M. Bonney Public Service Award and was presented to Ed last year at the Chamber Annual meeting. In choosing the award’s namesake, the Directors looked for someone who has a history of investment in Freeport and beyond and who has made a serious commitment to public service throughout their time in Freeport.
It was October of 1968 when Mr. and Mrs. L.M.C. Smith invited Charlie DeGrandpre to come to Maine to join them in developing their visionary organic beef farm, with a focus toward educating and demonstrating organic principles, and providing quality organic beef to a national audience.
Charlie brought with him his wife Claire, and four young sons, Rich, Dave, Jim, and Chuck. Since the beginning, Charlie appreciated the value of the independent, skilled, and hardworking neighbors in Freeport. For Charlie, community service meant hiring, spending, educating, and enhancing our Freeport community at the Farm. It was common to see a dozen local teenagers working at the farm and campground each summer. Winters would bring talented neighborhood craftsmen to the Farm, who otherwise were lobstermen and carpenters in the summer season.
Charlie ensured local clammers and hunters had open access at the Farm. The Farm regularly had interns, researchers, journalists, and farmers interested in organic concepts visit to learn about its demonstrations and practices. These included having the first round hay baler in the state, introducing satellite farming, experimenting with non-traditional crops and soil amendments, and cross breeding within the beef herd.
In 1986, Charlie was the first recipient of the Beef Producer of the Year Award from the Maine Beef Producers Association. Charlie and Claire also inspired their four boys to contribute to the community.
Sam Smith, Former Board president of the Wolfe’s Neck Farm Foundation said “not only did Charlie provide community service to Freeport, with his help, he and Claire produced four remarkable successors, one better than a hat trick.” Andy LeMaistre of Mitchell Ledge Farm shared that Charlie was the kind of guy always willing to lend advice to the growing Freeport farming community.
Today, Charlie remains an active member of the Freeport American Legion, Wolfe’s Neck Club, and St Jude’s Catholic Church. His children and their families have served Freeport as Town Counselors, School Committee members, Fire Chief, church leaders, business owners, rescue unit EMT, Women’s Club, and many other Town Boards and Committees.
Charlie continues to be a quiet but influential advisor to me and others at Wolfe’s Neck Farm. And though it’s been a few years since Charlie has been seen working in the fields, those of us who are working hard to carry on the legacy he helped create know that he’s there for us ….driving ever so slowly along Burnett Rd….always willing to roll down the window and lend some sage advice in a way that only Charlie can.
– Dave Herring, Executive Director