Utilizing the North Carolina Farmland Preservation Trust Fund, The LandTrust for Central North Carolina assisted in the permanent preservation of two active family farms, representing 335 acres, in the past several months.
The first project completed (which was briefly mentioned in our last newsletter) came through the dedication of sisters Rebecca Barber Floyd and Joyce Ann Barber who acted to protect their family’s legacy farm in Cleveland, North Carolina near Barber Junction. Protecting this 242 acre National Register Historic Landmark in Rowan County reached “High Priority” status the moment it was introduced to The LandTrust in 1997. The farm truly allows for a step back in time – a living museum demonstrative of agricultural landscapes and equipment from days gone by. The pastoral beauty of the farm is matched only by the striking splendor of the mid-19th century home-place lovingly restored by Rebecca and Joyce Ann.
Executive Director Jason Walser noted, “Protection of the Barber Farm is an incredible victory for us. Not only have we preserved an important piece of Rowan County history with this project, we have also protected prime agricultural soils, scenic vistas enjoyed from Highways 70 and 801, important wildlife habitat, and a significant riparian buffer along Witherow’s Creek. In a way this project encapsulates all that the LandTrust is about – farmland, natural area, cultural heritage, and water quality conservation.”
While the use of the North Carolina Farmland Preservation Trust Fund does pay the landowners are still donating a much greater value than what they are receiving. That is, the value of what they give up far exceeds that amount of money they receive – typically by 70-90%.
Another interesting aspect of this project is that The LandTrust was also able to utilize funds from the Federal Farmland Preservation Program of the USDA. With help from the local Natural Resource Conservation Service, we were able to put together the first successful federal funds into Piedmont North Carolina for farmland preservation. Since the new Farm Bill allocates hundreds of millions of dollars to Farmland Preservation, this successful project utilizing both state and federal sources bodies well for our ability to tap into these funds again in the future. In fact, we will be reporting in the next newsletter about receiving a huge allocation from the federal program for this year as well, although details were not available as of press time for this publication.
To date, The LandTrust has accomplished 5 projects employing the state and federal farmland preservation programs. Combined, these two programs have helped us ensure the permanent protection of 934 acres. Due to current budget constraints the immediate future of the state program is uncertain. However, the LantTrust is optimistic the outlook will eventually improve and we will continue to move forward in preserving the southern Piedmont’s finest family farms.