Western Reserve Land Conservancy – Ohio’s largest land trust – established permanent protections at two Richland County farms, preserving a 206-acre farm in Franklin Township, and a 119-acre property in Jackson Township.
The Franklin Township farm, Ohio Rural Land LLC, is owned by siblings Tim Smith and Roberta Shaw; their grandfather purchased the property during the Great Depression and it has been family-owned ever since. The property is incredibly scenic, with both active and former agriculture land as well as rich and diverse woodlands. Soybeans and corn currently comprise the active agricultural areas while Tim has planted former agricultural areas with warm season grasses to benefit wildlife. The farm contains nearly 8,000 feet of Brubaker Creek and related tributaries, all of which eventually make their way to the Black Fork of the Mohican River. The well-managed wooded portions contain riparian corridors, forested wetlands and diverse plant and tree species indicative of an ecologically rich forest community.
In Jackson Township, Jerry and Mary Wurm’s 119-acre property is located just south of the City of Shelby. It is comprised of nearly all Prime Farmland Soils as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The land is leased to a local grain farmer and produces a rotation of corn and soybeans. The property also contains approximately 27 acres of early and mid-successional hardwood forest, floodplain forest, and old field habitat. Additionally, the property contains well over one mile of tributaries and maintained ditches to the Black Fork of the Mohican River.
Beginning in 2018, Jerry and Mary Wurm have granted seven conservation easements in four counties in the Land Conservancy’s western and southwestern service areas totaling 740 acres of land.
“Agriculture provides one in every eight jobs in Ohio,” said Andy McDowell, vice president of western field operations at the Land Conservancy. “Farming is a way of life for many Ohio families. The best way to ensure those traditions and economic benefits continue is to permanently conserve farmlands, to be used now and for future generations. We are honored to partner with Tim and Roberta and Jerry and Mary to preserve their family farms.”
To date, Western Reserve Land Conservancy has permanently protected over 300 family farms spanning over 36,000 acres of Ohio farmland.
“Each landowner is different, unique,” McDowell said. “We take time to get to know these families, talk with them about their options and review the financial or tax benefits they may receive by protecting their property. The landowners we work with come from all kinds of backgrounds, reflecting the vast diversity of the region we serve. But they all have one thing in common: a love of their land.”