Conservancy preserves 27 acres of South Huntingdon farmland on Earth Day

Members of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy were unable to hold the signing ceremony they had hoped for. Nonetheless, they were able to preserve nearly 30 acres of Westmoreland County farmland on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

The farm, in South Huntingdon, will be part of the Conservancy’s Access to Farmland initiative, which connects farmers to affordable farmland.

“South Huntingdon suits them because it’s close to Interstate 70, Route 31 and the (Pennsylvania) Turnpike,” said Becky Poole, whose family has owned the farm for five generations. . “I am honored and delighted that it has been selected for preservation.”

The reservation already has two locations, one in Mercer County and another in Lawrence County, where farmers rent farmland to raise livestock or grow crops for food distribution in the Pittsburgh area.

“It is fitting that we have permanently protected these farmlands today on Earth Day; not only will this land never be developed, but it will remain a farm to plant and grow crops as it has since 1827,” said CEO and Conservation Chairman Tom Saunders. “We will ensure that the natural features of the farm are protected while supporting local farmers who want to provide local organic food to people in the area.

The reserve was “the perfect group for me because they were able to come in and pay for all the testing they have to do before they put a piece of land on hold,” said Tribune-Review editor Poole. “Plus, it’s the oldest, most respected and prestigious conservation organization in the state.”

The access to farmland initiative has worked well for other farmers.

“Buying land and equipment to operate a farm is one of the biggest financial challenges most new farmers will face,” said Jake Kristophel, co-owner of Fallen Aspen Farm, located on conservation property. in Lawrence County. “The option to lease land has made farming more attractive and affordable for us, and leasing continues to be the right choice for our small farming business.”

Funding to acquire the property was made possible through the generosity of the Henry L. Hillman, Colcom and Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundations, the Heinz Endowments and an anonymous donor.

Poole said she looks forward to a productive future for her family’s former farm.

“It’s time for the next chapter, and I have no doubt that the WPC will be able to write it,” she said.

Farmers interested in leasing acres of this farm in Westmoreland County should call 412-288-2777 or email [email protected]

Patrick Varine is an editor at Tribune-Review. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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