MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — At 91 years old, Robert Elwood Jr. wanted to ensure that his life’s dedication of farming his property would continue after he was unable to care for it. So, Elwood decided to donate 206 acres to the Berkeley County Farmland Protection Board to guarantee his property remains farmland.
After more than a year of paperwork and process, Elwood and the Farmland Protection board of directors transferred the deed and solidified their partnership Monday as the donation became official.
Through Farmland Protection, landowners can voluntarily donate or be compensated for the placement of a conservation easement on their property to best ensure the land remains available for agricultural use.
A conservation easement places restrictions on land use, in this case, dictating the land remain for agricultural and farming use only.
“This is by far the largest donation Farmland Protection has ever received, by at least 150 acres. This is quite a milestone,” said Floyd Kursey, chairman of the Farmland Protection board.
Elwood said he acquired the farm in 1956, located in the Swan Pond area in the Opequon District, and has been working it since. He said he chose to donate the land to Farmland Protection so a conservation easement could be placed on it, specifically preventing any housing development from being built on the land in the future.
Kursey said several donations to the organization within the past few years have come from landowners concerned about the legacy of their farms or property.
“There’s an interest from the long-term landowners. I think the person who has the land, that worked on it and grew up on it, has memory after memory of that property. I think they look at that property differently. I think that’s where (Elwood) is. We’ve also talked to other people in the county who feel a similar type thing. There’s been some other considerations from people in the county,” Kursey said.
Kursey said the organization has received multiple applications to be part of the 2015 program. Berkeley County Farmland Protection currently has about 44 easements, totaling 4,441 protected acres through the program.
– Staff writer Samantha Cronk can be reached at 304-263-8931, ext. 132, or twitter.com/scronkJN.