Sisters protect 273-acre farm with Land Trust for TN

(From left) Jim and Rachel Harwell and Lou and Jochen Hoffman are pictured after the closing of the conservation easement with The Land Trust for Tennessee in December 2019. Their 273-acre family farm just outside of Fayetteville will be conserved for future generations.

Sisters Rachel Harwell and Lou Hoffmann can now take comfort in knowing their 273-acre farm just outside of Fayetteville will be conserved for future generations.

In December 2019, Harwell and Hoffmann partnered with The Land Trust for Tennessee, a local conservation organization, to permanently protect the farm where they grew up.

“This is the home where I lived from birth until I left for college, and it is where my heart considers ‘home’,” says Lou Hoffmann. “I wanted to conserve the farm that I grew up on so that little girls and boys growing up in the future can enjoy looking out and seeing open land, and so they can enjoy helping their parents plant a big garden and harvest food for their family and friends, and hunt for crayfish in the streams.”

Rachel, Lou, and their families looked to The Land Trust for Tennessee to provide the peace of mind that the farm will not be lost to other uses, and will continue to provide tranquility and opportunity for future generations.

“The world around us seems to be moving at an ever-increasing pace,” said Rachel Harwell. “This land, our family’s farm, is one place where we can slow down. As a farmer’s child, I worked hard on this land, but I always knew there were numerous places that I could escape to and dream and be at peace.”

To achieve their goals of protecting the farm, the sisters and The Land Trust for Tennessee closed on a legal agreement called a conservation easement to limit the future development of the land. The agreement protects the special scenic, agricultural, and natural attributes of the farm, while also allowing the family to continue owning and operating it. They can even build barns and other agricultural structures that will help the farm.

The farm remains in the family — they did not donate their farm or have to give up their valuable land — and they can still live there, farm, sell the land, or pass along to heirs. The Land Trust’s role going forward is to ensure that the legal agreement is permanently upheld, which is something the sisters says their parents would have approved of.

“Once when a physician from Alabama was repeatedly pressing my widowed mom to sell the farm to him, her reply was, ‘I don’t want to sell it. I want it for my family, and they aren’t making any more land’,” said Harwell.

The Land Trust for Tennessee protects 130,000 acres of land important to people across the state, including multiple farms in the area. The organization now protects 517 acres within ten miles of the sister’s beloved farm. (1/23/20)

“We are so fortunate to work with landowners who see the life of the land beyond their own,” said Emily Parish, vice president of conservation at The Land Trust for Tennessee. “This family cares deeply about their farm, and we are honored to help them protect it.”

As proud stewards of their farm, Rachel and her husband, Jim, are actively taking steps to improve their property. In 2000, they started working with Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to plant trees along their stream, and they are currently participating in an NRCS Pollinator Habitat Program where they have planted native grasses and plants to provide wildlife for pollinating insects like bees and butterflies. Now, by working with The Land Trust, they are ensuring the land will be conserved for future generations to use and enjoy.

“We hope that the owner on this land 100 years from now will be able to enjoy it as much as we have,” said Harwell. “Hopefully the owners will have continued the good conservation practices, and there will still be habitat for all sorts of wildlife that live here now.”

 

About The Land Trust for Tennessee

The Land Trust for Tennessee is a conservation organization working statewide to protect land important to the people of Tennessee. From family farms and historic landscapes to public parks and forests, the work of The Land Trust has a lasting impact on people and places from Memphis to Mountain City. The organization has conserved approximately 130,000 acres of land since its founding in 1999, and is recognized for meeting the highest standards for excellence and conservation permanence. Learn more at www.landtrusttn.org

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