Roy Varney poses with his skis in a prom photo. Submitted photo

TURNER — The Varney family has worked the 300 acres they call North Farm off Route 219 for a decade. They planned to develop a shooting range there soon for their son, Roy, a budding biathlon athlete.

But now they’re adding a Nordic ski center in honor of the 19-year-old to their to-do list.

After the teenager’s tragic death last month in a farm accident, they’re throwing their energy and grief into building the Maine Outdoor Wellness Center.

They picture the spot being used for Nordic and biathlon training, hosting schools, clinics and events, as well as mountain biking and other activities.

“Everybody grieves differently, and believe me, we’re still grieving, but it only makes sense to just want to do this,” his mother, Gloria Varney, said Tuesday. “Roy has touched this community in a way that Gregg and I did not know. I guess that’s what’s driving us, how do we give back to that community he cared so much about.”

The land at North Farm is used for growing grain corn for animals, hay and silage, and it has a barn with 150 sheep and some pigs. The crops, animals and outdoor center can coexist, Varney said.


It has a 40- by 100-foot cement building pad. The couple has a GoFundMe campaign up for $75,000 to kick off the new building, hopefully before winter. It would be a future spot to congregate, get warm, get food and hold events.

By Tuesday afternoon, more than $11,000 had been raised.

“It’ll be constructed very similar to Nezinscot Farm,” she said, the couple’s business. “Our goal is before snow falls to get that capped over with a new building, at least the frame of it, so we could work in it this winter.”

Then, the planning starts for trails. Some exist through the woods there; others will need to be designed and cleared.

“Over the past year, our son Roy had developed himself as quite a Nordic skier and was training also in the biathlon and really fell in love with that sport,” Varney said. “We’ve got kind of a berm backdrop that would naturally make a great background for shooting targets, for biathlon training.”

Roy, 19, had won the state championship for cross-country skiing and competed in the National Biathlon Championships, according to his obituary. He planned to attend the University of New Hampshire this fall and train at the National Biathlon Center in Jericho, Vermont.

The family is holding a celebration of life to honor Roy from 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 25 on Nezinscot Farm.

“In lieu of gifts or flowers or cards, we’ve asked people to consider donating to the Maine Outdoor Wellness Center,” Varney said. They plan to set it up soon as a nonprofit. “Hopefully a year from this winter, we’ve got something in place where we can have a Nordic event.”

People interested in volunteering to build or clear trails can reach the Varneys through the farm website.

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