Daily Local News: “East Nantmeal farm to be preserved”
A little portion of the Big Woods has been preserved for years to come, thanks to the efforts of two land conservation trusts.
In an announcement made Tuesday, the Natural Lands Trust announced the conservation of ConaMoore Farm, a 163-acre property in East Nantmeal, in northwestern Chester County. The land, owned for five generations by the McAfee family, is part of the Hopewell Big Woods, the largest unbroken forest remaining in southeastern Pennsylvania.
An expanse of more than 73,000 acres, the Hopewell Big Woods is one of the most important natural areas in the region, according to the announcement.
“It’s been this way for so long, we thought it sure would be nice if it could stay this way,” said Kevin McAfee of his family’s decision to protect their farm. McAfee, who has no siblings or children, says the conservation easement gives him comfort when he thinks about ConaMoore Farm’s future. “We don’t know who will farm it next, but we know it will always be here, all in one piece.”
The effort to preserve the land was done in conjunction between Natural Lands Trust, a regional preservation organization headquartered in Media, and the East Nantmeal Land Trust. Together, the two organizations developed a preservation strategy that included a 120-acre agricultural easement granted to Chester County and two conservation easements, 33 acres and 10 acres, granted to Natural Lands Trust. Under an easement, property remains in private ownership, but is protected from future development in perpetuity, the trust said.
The shady woodlands, rolling pastures, and picturesque buildings of ConaMoore Farm located along Route 401 was once part of a William Penn grant.
In 1987, Chester County proclaimed the property a “Century Farm,” an official designation of the state Department of Agriculture recognizing farms that have contributed to the state’s farming heritage for 100 consecutive years or more.
“For years, East Nantmeal Township had hoped the McAfee farm would stay the way it is,” said Trish St. Georges of East Nantmeal Land Trust. “The end result was an easement for the farm, and a ‘win’ for the family, the township, and for open space and preserved farmland.”
According to the announcement by Natural Lands Trust officials, the farm contains a small section of Black Horse Creek, a tributary of Marsh Creek, as well as native deciduous woodlands and productive farmland with soils classified as “prime farmland” and “farmland of statewide importance.”
“Preserving land can be one of the most fulfilling choices a landowner can make,” said Molly Morrison, president of Natural Lands Trust. “It is, however, rarely a simple decision and we are tremendously grateful to the McAfee family for choosing conservation.”
The efforts earned the attention of county officials. In a statement issued by the trusts, commissioners Ryan Costello, Kathi Cozzone, and Terence Farrell said: “Much of the success and accomplishments of Chester County’s open space program are due to the tremendous support of private conservation and the efforts of organizations like Natural Lands Trust. The conservation of ConaMoore Farm is a great example of this, and we thank the McAfee family for their commitment to the farm’s preservation.”