Natural Lands Trust Preserves 163-Acre ConaMoore Farm In Chester County
Natural Lands Trust announced recently the conservation of ConaMoore Farm, a 163-acre property in East Nantmeal Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. The shady woodlands, rolling pastures, and picturesque buildings of ConaMoore Farm, located along Route 401, serve as the gateway to East Nantmeal Township. The land was once part of a William Penn grant, and has been in the McAfee family for five generations. In 1987, Chester County proclaimed the property a “Century Farm,” an official designation of the Department of Agriculture that recognizes farms and farm families that have contributed to the Commonwealth’s heritage with productive farms maintained for 100 consecutive years or more.
When the McAfee family members considered taking the steps necessary to preserve their beloved farm, they reached out to the East Nantmeal Land Trust, which, in turn, asked for assistance from Natural Lands 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.
“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.” “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. MacAfee, 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 farm contains a small section of Black Horse Creek (a tributary of Marsh Creek), native deciduous woodlands, and productive farmland with soils classified as “prime farmland” and “farmland of statewide importance.”
The property lies within a landscape known as 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.“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.”Stated Chester County Commissioners Ryan Costello, Kathi Cozzone, and Terence Farrell, “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.” Support for this conservation success was provided by the Chester County Agricultural Land Preservation Board, Chester County Preservation Partnership Program, East Nantmeal Land Trust, East Nantmeal Township, Open Space Institute, Pennsylvania Bureau of Farmland Preservation, The Nature Conservancy, and Virginia Cretella Mars Foundation.