UPDATE:  Enjoy these recent links from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farmers.gov site  or the following link for the interactive multimedia story.

The Lower family owns Boyer Nurseries and Orchards, Inc.  They have owned the land surrounding the family’s nursery and farm market since their patriarch, W. W. Boyer, purchased the land in 1900.  For a long time, they have dreamed of preserving the “Home Farm” for future generations.

“The scenic beauty of the home farm means a lot to us,” said Emma Lower, 5th generation, who works in the family business.  “We get a lot of customers who come in and admire the beauty of the setting.  We wanted to preserve that landscape for future generations.”

The family farm is located high in the hills of western Adams County, where rainfall and spring water drain into rivulets and streams that eventually help form Marsh Creek, which provides drinking water to those living in the Gettysburg area.  Waters from the farm ultimately drain downstream into both the Potomac River and the Susquehanna River on their way to the Chesapeake Bay.  “We know there are a lot of natural springs and vernal pools in the woodland behind the farm and it’s an important water resource, so limiting development in this area was really important to us,“ replied Emma.

The Lower family worked with the Land Conservancy of Adams County to craft four separate conservation easements, which are voluntary legal agreements tailored to the landowner’s wishes and attached to the property title that specify the kind and amount of development the landowner wants to allow on the property, now and in perpetuity.  All together, the Lower family has preserved more than 900 acres of the Home Farm.

Once the Lower family contacted the Land Conservancy of Adams County, Conservation Coordinator, Sarah Kipp went to work researching grants to reimburse the family for the value of their easement contracts.  The two most recent easement settlements were funded in part by the federal Farm and Ranchland Protection Program, which is overseen by the Department of Agriculture’s Resources Conservation Service.  Matching funds were provided by Adams County’s Green Space Program.  Other easement costs were underwritten by the Potomac Highlands Implementation Grant, which is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency and administered by the nonprofit American Rivers, which works to protect and restore the nation’s rivers and streams.

The Land Conservancy of Adams County is an accredited nonprofit land trust whose mission is to preserve the rural lands and character of Adams County.  It works with interested landowners to develop conservation easements that protect the county’s open spaces, farmlands, forests, and water resources.  For more information about the Land Conservancy, call 717-334-2828, email lcac@adamscounty.us or visit www.preserveadams.org.

American Rivers Press Release and Land Conservation article from The Evening Sun 4/12/2013