The Piedmont View

Spring 2010 Piedmont View

How conservation can help working farmers achieve their goals

David and Terry Ingram are father-son farmers who recently donated conservation easements on their farms in Brandy Station, in Culpeper County.

Brandy Station is a great place for farming, with rich soils and moderate slopes. In fact, a full two thirds of Culpeper County ranks as farmland of statewide importance.

The land at Gilberts Corner in Loudoun County that PEC saved from development in 2009 is now part of a public park at a gateway to one of America's most historic landscapes.

Joyce Gentry lives on the land where she lived as a child-a farm in Wolftown in Madison County, toward the foothills of the mountains, that has been in her family for generations. Mrs. Gentry, a retired math teacher, says, "I've lived on farms my whole life." Her son and daughter-in-law Brad and Amy Gentry now raise beef cattle on the family farm-a 145 acre spread with a horizon full of mountain views.

Mrs. Gentry's strong ties to the land motivated her to protect it with a conservation easement last year. "I'm trying to keep the countryside like it is," she says.

Members of the Carter family acted together in 2009 to protect nearly 1,000 acres of land in Albemarle County that has been in their family since 1730. The Carters' ancestors were neighbors to the Jeffersons, with a plantation about seven miles from Monticello, and the 1792 home, Redlands, suggests a Jeffersonian influence. The house was built by Martin Thacker, who also built Monticello, and its plan resembles Thomas Jefferson's unbuilt design for the Virginia governor's mansion.

When Gov. Tim Kaine took office, he set an ambitious goal -- to see 400,000 acres of land protected during his four-year term, which would roughly double the amount of private conservation land statewide. With strong state support for private land conservation as well as acquisition of new public lands, Gov. Kaine exceeded his goal. Since 2006, over 424,000 acres were protected. More than 96,000 acres were protected in PEC's nine-county region over the last four years.

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