Clover Hill Farm, a 192-acre cattle farm in northern Cleveland County, was placed under a conservation easement with Foothills Conservancy on December 8, 2017. The Century Farm has been owned by Myron Edwards' family for more than 150 years. A North Carolina Century Farm designation indicates that a farm has had continuous ownership by a single family for 100 years or more.
The conservation easement ensures permanent protection of the farm's highly fertile and productive soils, preservation of wildlife habitats, open pasture, woodlands, and protection of over 1.5 miles of surface waters in the Broad River basin.
"Farms are getting harder to come by," said Edwards. "This farm has been through several years of hard times, but my family held onto it and sacrificed to keep it." The Century Farm has endured years of reconstruction and lean times due to historical events such as the Civil War and the Great Depression.
"I want to honor the ones who came before me," Edwards stated.
Funding for the purchase of the conservation easement and transaction costs was provided by a $278,000 grant from the North Carolina Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund, a $17,000 grant from Conservation Trust for North Carolina for stewardship and legal defense, and a $1,000 grant from the Dover Foundation in Shelby, North Carolina.
In addition to a generous cash contribution by Edwards to cover some project costs, he also donated a portion of the conservation easement value, making him a 2017 Guardian of the Land. Guardians of the Land are honored annually by Foothills Conservancy. These landowners protect their properties with full or partial donations of conservation easements or of the land in fee to the conservancy, achieving lasting protection for the lands they love.
It is Edwards' hope that, in the future, Clover Hill Farm will give another farmer the opportunity to start farming.
Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina is a nationally accredited, nonprofit regional land trust based in Morganton. The conservancy works cooperatively with landowners and public/private conservation partners to preserve and protect significant natural areas and open spaces. Focus areas include watersheds, forests and farmland across the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains and foothills in eight counties: Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Cleveland, Lincoln, McDowell, and Rutherford. Since 1995, Foothills Conservancy has protected more than 52,000 acres, including lands added to South Mountains, Lake James and Chimney Rock state parks; Wilson Creek, South Mountains and the Johns River state game lands; Pisgah National Forest and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Information about Foothills Conservancy, including ways to support its work, can be found online at www.foothillsconservancy.org or by calling 828-437-9930.
Submitted by Mary Ellen Dendy