Chester County marks agriculture land preservation milestone

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The Chester County Commissioners announced an agricultural land preservation milestone.

Since October of 1990, when the first farm successfully went into the program, Chester County’s Agricultural Land Preservation Board (ALPB) has approved the preservation of 40,000 farm acres on more than 500 farms.

The farmland preservation represents a significant contribution to Chester County’s overall open space preservation program which now accounts for 28 percent of the county.

With even more farmland preservation as its aim, the ALPB is now accepting applications for two competitive programs funded by the Chester County Commissioners: The Commonwealth/County Program and the Chester County Challenge Grant Program.

Both programs offer funds to qualifying Chester County farm owners who are interested in preserving their farms. The County pays farm owners for their development rights in exchange for a permanent agricultural conservation easement on their land.

Farms with 10 acres or more are eligible for both the Commonwealth/County Program and the Chester County Challenge Grant Program if they are adjacent to other permanently preserved land. For farms not adjacent to permanently preserved land, the acreage minimums are 50 acres for the Commonwealth/County Program and 25 acres for the Challenge Grant Program.

Even if land is enrolled in an Agricultural Security Area (ASA) or Act 319 (Clean and Green), farmers are still eligible to receive additional funds to preserve their farms. Farmers still own the land and can sell it or pass it on to the next generation as long as it remains in agriculture.

“The variety of preserved farms in Chester County reflects the diversity of our agriculture,” said Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone.“From fruits, vegetables, soybeans and mushrooms to tree farms, dairy, beef, pigs, turkey and ducks, equine operations – even alpacas.”

The application deadline for both the Commonwealth/County Program and the Chester County Challenge Grant Program is August 1. For more information, including applications and program guidelines go to www.chesco.org/openspace. or call Geoff Shellington at 610-344-6504.

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