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August 28, 2023

5 farms in Chester, Montgomery counties to be preserved from development

The owners are receiving money from Pennsylvania's agriculture department to conserve resources, purchase equipment and manage their properties

Government Farms
Farm Preservation Provided Image/Commonwealth Media Services

Pennsylvania is preserving 35 farms, including four in Chester County and one in Montgomery County, from development through the Farmland Preservation Program. Duda’s Farm in Fayette County, above, also is being preserved.

Four farms in Chester County and one in Montgomery County are being protected from residential and commercial development as part of a statewide effort to preserve green spaces and protect agriculture. 

The farms are among 35 in Pennsylvania that collectively are receiving $8.64 million from the state's Farmland Preservation Program, which helps farmers conserve resources, purchase equipment, manage property and expand their businesses. 

The four Chester County farms – all family-owned – are being preserved thanks to $559,757 in state and county funding, according to the Department of Agriculture.

They are the Luke A. Allen Farm, a 68-acre horse farm in Upper Oxford Township, the Kathleen M. Anderson Farm, a 16-acre horse farm in Elk Township, the Neil J. and Alice E. DeBonaventura Farm, a 40-acre crop and livestock farm in West Fallowfield Township, and the Gail A. Emerson Farm, a 13-acre horse farm in West Fallowfield Township.

In Montgomery County, the Ellen A. Renninger Farm is being permanently preserved using $208,317 in state and county funding. 

The Farmland Preservation Program allows Pennsylvania to partner with local and county governments to purchase farm development rights, promising farmers that their properties will remain farmland and not be sold to developers. Since 1988, the state has preserved 6,266 farms and 628,967 acres across 58 counties using nearly $1.68 billion. 

"'No farms, no food' is the battle cry for farmland preservation across the country," said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. "Pennsylvania has led that charge, and families who preserve their farms join forces with government, investing together to ensure that future Pennsylvania families will have green spaces and healthy farmland available to produce food, income and jobs." 

Earlier this year, the state rolled out $154 million in conservation funding through its new Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program, which helps farmers reduce water pollution and improve soil quality. The Farmland Preservation Program also received a $7.85 million federal grant to support conservation efforts on preserved farms. 

Nonprofits like Natural Lands have worked with county governments and environmental centers to preserve green spaces. The organization helped save the 24-acre Boy Scout Tract in Upper Roxborough from residential development last year. 

In Chester County, Natural Lands has helped preserve the 44-acre Aguilar Farm in East Nantmeal Township, the 101-acre Kavanaugh Farm in Upper Oxford Township and a 90-acre portion of the 218-acre Kirkwood Farm in Willistown Township, which was purchased by film director M. Night Shyamalan in March. 

Last fall, the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources created Big Elk Creek State Park in Chester County. It spans 1,712 acres along Pennsylvania's border with Maryland. It was one of three new state parks created in 2022.