Yoder Farm, the historic 114-acre property that marks the gateway vista into Warwick Township has been saved from being transformed into a housing development and a nine-hole executive golf course thanks to the Township reaching out to Natural Lands Trust to find an alternative solution.
Originally, the owners of the property which lies in the upper part of French Creek by the western boundary of the Hopewell Big Woods, had planned to develop the land, but when the economy stuttered they had to abandon those plans and this instead allowed time for the Township and Natural Lands Trust to develop a conservation and preservation strategy.
“With the farm’s rolling terrain of farm fields and wetlands, you truly get a feeling of Warwick Township,” said Joan Grimley, Warwick Township’s Administrator. “Thank you, Natural Lands Trust, for all your help to protect this iconic property.”
Getting the land through the conservation process was not an easy task however, as it included classifying the farm’s fields as an agricultural easement as well as the adjoining wetlands as a conservation easement. These keep the property in private ownership while protecting it from any future development plans.
“The intricacies of this project were remarkable,“ said Natural Lands Trust President, Molly Morrison. “Kudos to the partners and funders who worked with us to navigate the twists and turns along the way so we could arrive at this successful outcome!”
Support for the conservation of the farm was also provided by the Chester County Agricultural Land Preservation Board and the Chester County Preservation Partnership Program and once the restrictions were in place, the property was purchased by Bill Beam, a local farmer.
“My son Matt and his wife Rebecca plan to operate the farm and renovate the house, making it their home,” said Bill Beam. “It feels so good to preserve this farm forever.”
Because the undisturbed wetlands and streams that run through the property are important for protecting water quality, the project also received a $250,000 grant from the Open Space Institute’s Bayshore Highlands Fund.
“Preservation of this working farm and important natural area highlights the county’s commitment to balancing progress and preservation,“ pointed out Chester County Commissioners Terence Farrell, Kathi Cozzone, and Michelle Kichline. ”We are grateful for the exceptional skills of the Natural Lands Trust and the other partners in bringing this to fruition. This project is a perfect example of the high return on investment provided by open space preservation in Chester County.”