Our Commitment


Mission

To preserve and steward the beautiful, productive farmland of Lancaster County that reflects our heritage, supports our economy, protects our environment, nourishes our health, and enhances our quality of life.

history

In 1980, the Lancaster County Commissioners appointed a nine-member Agricultural Preservation Board to preserve Lancaster County farmland. As guidelines and policies were developed, it became clear that the program was not effectively reaching Plain Sect farmers. Amish and Mennonite farmers were, and largely still are, reluctant to become involved with government programs.

Amos Funk is known as Lancaster County’s “father of farmland preservation” and was the president of the newly created Agriculture Preserve Board. He had several conversations with fellow preservation supporter, Marilyn Ware. Amos and Marilyn were both aware of the need for a private organization to help Plain Sect farmers preserve their land. The formation of a new organization called the Friends of Agricultural Land Preservation fulfilled this need. They held their first meeting on November 13, 1985. Amos and Marilyn created the organization to be an important partner to the Lancaster County Agricultural Preserve Board. In August 1988, the organization was renamed Lancaster Farmland Trust.

Since then, Lancaster Farmland Trust has developed into a robust and dynamic organization with more than 500 easements under our belt. Jointly, with the county’s Agricultural Preservation Board, Lancaster County has 112,000 acres of farmland preserved. In the years after our founding, national recognition surrounded Lancaster Farmland Trust for the success of our efforts. Lancaster Farmland Trust is a leader in private farmland preservation.

We are a private, nonprofit organization with the mission of preserving agriculture and stewarding the land. Our volunteer Board of Trustees understands the cultural and economic importance of protecting working lands. Our funding comes through donations from private individuals and businesses, and grants from various private and public organizations and foundations.


5,650

farm-families provide fresh, local food for lancaster residents and americans across the united states



Lancaster Farmland Trust is the top farmland preservation organization in the state, and the nation.

Staff & Board


Karen Martynick

Executive Director

Karen Martynick joined Lancaster Farmland Trust as Executive Director in 2004. Prior to assuming her position at the Trust, Karen served as County Commissioner in Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she was involved in the protection of over 30,000 acres of open space and initiated and implemented the County’s award winning comprehensive land use plan “Landscapes.” She also served as Executive Director of the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee of the Pennsylvania State Senate. Karen was selected to serve as one of 30 members of the EPA’s Local Government Advisory Commission where she assisted in establishing benchmarks for environmental regulations and programs including the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program for the Chesapeake Bay. She served on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Counties (NACO) and the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) where she chaired the Sustainability Task Force. Karen served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) for 14 years and as Chair of the agency’s Administration and Operations Committee. She served on the Boards of the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association, the Lancaster County Smart Growth Coalition and the Lancaster County Agricultural Advisory Council. Karen was selected as one of Central Penn Business Journal’s “Women of Influence.” Karen received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Science in Administration from West Chester University. She is married to George Martynick and has two sons, four amazing grandchildren, and a rescue named Ella. She enjoys gardening, needlepoint, knitting, and travel.

Jeffery Swinehart

Chief Operating Officer

Jeff Swinehart is the Chief Operating Officer at Lancaster Farmland Trust beginning in 2019. Prior to this role he served as the organization’s Deputy Director for 13 years. With 19 years of land trust experience, Jeff is responsible for carrying out the strategic plans and policies of the Board of Trustees. He provides direction and leadership toward the achievement of the organization’s vision, mission and values as established by the Board of Trustees. During his tenure, Jeff and his team have built Lancaster Farmland Trust’s easement portfolio to more than 500 easements and 30,000 acres – the largest easement portfolio in Pennsylvania. Jeff is a member of the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association Board and Policy Committee, serves as Vice-Chairman of the Manheim Township Planning Commission, and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Lancaster Clean Water Partners. In 2019, Jeff began serving a three-year term as the Mid-Atlantic representative for Terrafirma RRG, LLC. Jeff graduated with a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the Pennsylvania State University and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography, plus minors in Geology and Regional Planning from Mansfield University. As a lifelong resident of Lancaster County, Jeff spent his childhood in the southern end of the county enjoying the rural way of life and working on a family-owned dairy farm. He currently resides in Manheim Township with his wife and two children. Jeff enjoys hunting, fishing, gardening, preparing gourmet meals, being active in his son’s Cub Scout Pack, and visiting family in northern Pennsylvania and the Finger Lakes region of New York.

Amanda Hickle

Director of Development and Communications

Amanda Hickle is the Director of Development and Communications at Lancaster Farmland Trust. She has served in the non-profit field for 15 years, 11 of which she has devoted to developing, implementing and managing fundraising and communications strategies that further the mission of Lancaster Farmland Trust and ensure its long-term viability. Amanda provides direction and leadership to a team that is constantly exploring new ways to connect with our community; build relationships; and further the mission of Lancaster Farmland Trust through financial sustainability. Amanda has been a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE®) since 2015, demonstrating her personal and professional commitment to philanthropy. She is also a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Central Pennsylvania Chapter. She has served as the Diversity and Ethics Committee Chairperson on AFP’s Board of Trustees. She also served on the Environmental Fund for Pennsylvania’s Board of Trustees. Amanda graduated from Edinboro University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications, specializing in Public Relations and English Literature. She also earned a Women in Leadership Certificate from Cornell University. While Amanda is a native to the Pocono Mountains, she is proud to call Lancaster County home. As a 20-year resident of the County, she lives in Lititz with her husband, Craig, and two rescue dogs – Killian and Addagan. She enjoys music, photography, camping and supporting animal-related causes.

Jeb Musser

Director of Land Protection

Jeb Musser is the Director of Land Protection at Lancaster Farmland Trust beginning in 2019. Prior to this role he served in nearly every role in the organization’s Land Protection Department over six years. Jeb is responsible for carrying out the programmatic activities of the Trust, including farmland preservation, implementation of best management practices on farms, fee for service activities, and grant management. He provides direction to the Land Protection staff, interns, and volunteers. Jeb is a member of the Lancaster Clean Water Partners Watershed Action Team and is a certified FAA Part 107 drone pilot. Jeb graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Geography with focus in Environmental Studies, plus a minor in Government and Political Studies from Millersville University. He also has a professional certificate in Geographic Information Systems from Pennsylvania State University and a certificate in Drones for Land Trust Monitoring from Duke University. Jeb is originally from Lebanon County, where he spent his teenage years helping out on a hog farm in South Londonderry Township. He moved to Lancaster County to attend Millersville University and has stayed in the area since. Jeb currently resides in Lancaster City with his soon-to-be wife, two dogs, and a cat. Jeb enjoys gardening, camping, working around the house, Penn State football, and a good episode of Family Feud.

Laura Brenner

Communications Coordinator

As Communications Coordinator, Laura is responsible for internal and external communications, education and outreach, event and volunteer management, and other activities that further the mission of Lancaster Farmland Trust. She has spent her career creating connections between farmers, their land, and their communities. Laura earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a minor in Agronomy from Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Science in Communications from Purdue University. Laura is a "big sister" through Big Brothers, Big Sisters and volunteers with the Lancaster Recreation Commission as a running coach. A life-long Lancaster County resident, Laura grew up in West Lampeter and currently resides in Lancaster City with her rescue dog, Piper. Piper is often found alongside Laura at the LFT office.

Amy Baumann

Development Associate

Amy Baumann joined Lancaster Farmland Trust in 2018 as the Development Associate. In this role, Amy provides critical support for the Trust’s fundraising efforts. She is responsible for maintaining the donor database, managing the donor acknowledgement process, and assisting in the creation of solicitation letters and campaigns. She helps coordinate fundraising events and serves as an administrator for several grant-funded projects. Before moving to Lancaster with her family, Amy worked at several non-profit organizations in the Philadelphia area. She holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Drexel University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown University. She currently resides in Manheim Township with her husband, three children and puppy. Amy enjoys large family gatherings, baking, crossword puzzles, Barnegat Light, and biking the country roads of Lancaster County. She also commits hundreds of hours each year to watching her beloved 76ers, with the (so far futile) hope of seeing them raise the Larry O’Brien Trophy with her own eyes.

Linnhe Martin

Agricultural Outreach Coordinator

As Ag Outreach Coordinator, Linnhe is responsible for establishing relationships with a variety of stakeholders to advance soil and water conservation practices and working with local municipalities on land use policies. She also supports the land preservation initiatives through monitoring and maintaining her FAA drone license. Linnhe graduated from Millersville University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration on Environmental Studies. She has spent a majority of her working career at DuPont Pioneer locally in New Holland, PA working with corn nursery, disease, and yield trials. Linnhe and her husband raise two boys, Torsten and Gunnar; they enjoy beach camping, biking and running as a family.

Katie Yoder

Land Protection Specialist

Katie Yoder is the Land Protection Specialist at Lancaster Farmland Trust. She works with farmers to acquire conservation easements on their farms, assists with easement stewardship to ensure compliance, and assists with administering and managing grants. She also conducts a portion of annual monitoring visits. Katie graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science and a minor in Agribusiness Management. She has spent the majority of her career working alongside farmers through her farm credit and appraisal background. Katie and her husband reside in New Holland, close to the farm where she grew up.

Jordan Clymer

Land Protection Assistant

Jordan is responsible for providing support to the Land Protection Department. His work includes conducting the bulk of the Trust’s annual monitoring visits of preserved farms, compiling baseline documentation for newly preserved farms, and helping to maintain the Trust’s database of preserved farms. He creates maps that are used for a variety of different projects. He is also a part 107 certified UAV pilot, able to fly the drone for the Trust. Jordan graduated from Paul Smith’s College with an Environmental Science degree with a double minor in GIS (Geographic Information System) and Chemistry. He spent the majority of his life in Lancaster County. He is a very active person and loves the outdoors. Some of his favorite activities are hiking, working out, cycling and going kayaking; however, he does also enjoys reading a good book, watching movies and creating art.

Dianna Hendrick

Financial Assistant

As Financial Assistant, Dianna is responsible for financial duties that contribute to the efficient operation of the organization. She oversees financial records, accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, grant expenses and Human Resource duties. She is a native Pennsylvanian and worked in banking for 22 years and the non-profit community for 14 years. Dianna has a deep appreciation of how non-profits continually strive to improve the quality of life and work together with other organizations to make this happen. Family is a very important part of her life and she enjoys spending time with her husband Mike and her two boys. On weekends, you can find Dianna enjoying the outdoors by kayaking, geocaching, or bike riding with her rescue dog, Timber.

Kristin Raab

Office Assistant

Kristin Raab is the Administrative Assistant at Lancaster Farmland Trust. Kristin first worked with LFT in 2003 as a Preservation Specialist and spent two years working with both the Land Protection and Development Departments. She returned to the organization in 2015 as the Administrative Assistant. As the Administrative Assistant, Kristin is responsible for managing a variety of projects and details that contribute to the efficient operation of the organization. Kristin graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Language Arts and Communications from Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. She is a member of Sigma Tau Delta, and over the past 20 years has used her training and passion for community involvement to volunteer for numerous non-profits, as well as serve as a PTO President at her daughter’s elementary school. Kristin grew up in the Adirondack region of New York State, and moved to Lancaster County in 2002 after spending several years in New York’s Hudson Valley working at Historic Huguenot Street in New Paltz. She currently resides in Manheim Township with her husband and their two daughters. Kristin enjoys gardening and reading when she has some down time. When their schedule allows, she loves returning to her Adirondack roots and spending time visiting her family and exploring the lakes and trails of Upstate New York.

Lancaster Farmland Trust’s diverse, volunteer Board of Trustees is the organization’s governing entity. It is responsible for managing its business and affairs.

Board of Trustees

David Breniser, Chair

David D. Miller, Vice-Chair

G. Donald Hess, CPA, Treasurer

Larry Shirk, Secretary

Dara C. Bachman, Esq.

Emanuel Beiler

R. Ted Bowers

Sam Clement

Terry L. Kauffman

Kenneth S. Lewis

Caroline Morton

Benjamin F. Riggs, Jr.

Mark Sauder

Bob Shoemaker

Christ Taylor

Melvyn G. Wenger

honorary Trustees

H. Eugene Garber

Kenneth H. Messner

Noah W. Wenger

Phyllis C. Whitesell

general counsel

Brubaker, Connaughton, Goss & Lucarelli

2018 Board of Trustees

Seated L to R: Ken Lewis; Larry Shirk; Sam Goodley , Jr., Esq.

Standing L to R: Dr. Melvyn G. Wenger; Dara C. Bachman, Esq.; David D. Miller; Sam Clement; G. Donald Hess, CPA; Benjamin F. Riggs, Jr.; Bob Shoemaker; David Breniser; Caroline Morton

Not Pictured: Emanuel Beiler, Terry L. Kauffman, R. Ted Bowers, Mark Sauder

2018 Board of Trustees

Seated L to R: Ken Lewis; Larry Shirk; Sam Goodley , Jr., Esq.

Standing L to R: Dr. Melvyn G. Wenger; Dara C. Bachman, Esq.; David D. Miller; Sam Clement; G. Donald Hess, CPA; Benjamin F. Riggs, Jr.; Bob Shoemaker; David Breniser; Caroline Morton

Not Pictured: Emanuel Beiler, Terry L. Kauffman, R. Ted Bowers, Mark Sauder

Accreditation & Awards


The Land Trust Alliance Accreditation Commission has granted national accreditation to Lancaster Farmland Trust. The Commission is an independent, non-profit program that awards accreditation status to land trusts. They build and recognize strong land trusts, foster public confidence in land conservation, and help ensure the long-term protection of land. Accredited land trusts share commonalities. Accreditation status confirms a land trust meets the highest national standards for excellence and conservation permanence.

Lancaster Farmland Trust was one of the first land trusts in the country to achieve this national mark of distinction.

Strong ethical practices, a commitment to the long-term stewardship of land, and conservation easements in the public interest unite accredited organizations. Every five years, land trusts must apply for accreditation renewal.

Consulting & Municipal Services


Municipal Partnerships

As municipalities plan for future growth, it is important to manage development with strategies to protect natural resources, including valuable agricultural lands.

Lancaster Farmland Trust works with many municipal officials and the local communities to identify funding options and policies to preserve farmland in perpetuity.

We have developed the organizational capacity to assist Lancaster municipalities with a variety of their planning decisions. Innovative planning techniques such as transferable development rights (TDRs), effective agricultural zoning, and ordinances protecting the right to farm are well tested and have yielded positive results in many Lancaster County municipalities.

A relatively new dynamic for municipalities is enhanced regulatory enforcement pertaining to Municipal Separate Storm Sewer (MS4) systems, which are defined by population density per data issued by the U.S. Census Bureau. For Lancaster County, it is common that vast areas of agricultural land are incorporated into a municipality’s regulated MS4 area. We believe there are tremendous opportunities to “connect” the green infrastructure (i.e. conservation practices) on farms to the regulatory needs of local municipalities, which are significantly more cost-effective than gray infrastructure, while simultaneously benefiting the economic and environmental performance of farms. To-date, Lancaster Farmland Trust has completed assessments of more than 1,100 farms in nine municipalities to understand the needs and opportunities of the agricultural community and how those opportunities can assist local municipalities in their MS4 compliance. Lancaster Farmland Trust has also participated in creating The Lancaster County TDR Practitioner’s Handbook. With a solid understanding of the nuts and bolts behind TDR programs, Trust staff can introduce the TDR handbook to municipal employees and officials and will support the development of this preservation and growth management tool.

Lancaster Farmland Trust will also offer support to integrate the following strategies to protect Lancaster’s precious agricultural lands:

  • Agricultural Security Areas
  • Effective agricultural zoning ordinances
  • Creative funding mechanisms
  • Identifying high priority farms for preservation
  • Education and outreach of Smart Growth strategies

For more information on working with Lancaster Farmland Trust, please contact us at 717-687-8484 or by email:

contact us

FAQ


What does “preserving a farm” mean?

When we say “preserving a farm,” we mean the farmer has placed a conservation easement on the farm. The landowner sells or donates their rights to develop the land at any time in the future. This keeps the land available for agricultural use and prevents development forever. The farmer still owns and farms the property as a private landowner. Lancaster Farmland Trust will ensure the easement continues to restrict development.

How does the community benefit from farmland preservation?

Protecting farmland preserves our community’s way of life, provides bountiful fresh, local foods, and the opportunity to improve our local and regional water supply through on-farm conservation practices.

What does a conservation easement say?

We work with farmers to write easements so they do not restrict the farmers’ daily lives or plans for future agricultural pursuits. The language of the Lancaster Farmland Trust’s standard easement allows additional homes for the farmer’s family members who may come to live or work on the farm and allows farmers to construct additional farm buildings such as a workshop or agricultural on-farm business.

Do Plain Sect farmers preserve their farms?

Yes. Nearly 80% of our preserved farm owners are Plain Sect Amish or Mennonite farmers.

Does preserving a farm reduce its value?

When a farmer places a conservation easement on the farm, they are usually lowering the value of the property to some extent. That said, it is common in Lancaster County for preserved farms to sell at values comparable to unpreserved farms. Farmers want and need land to farm and, because that’s what the easement allows, farmers are willing to pay top dollar for high-quality land.

Can a farmer have a business on a preserved farm?

Yes, our farmers are permitted to have businesses on their farms. The nature and size of their on-farm business are limited and specific to the easement on their farm.

How long does an easement last?

Our easements are written and upheld forever. The easement is attached to the Property Title and transfers from owner to owner.

Does a preserved farm still pay property taxes?

Yes, preserved farm owners still pay property taxes. Preserved farm owners are eligible for an income tax deduction for the donated portion of their development rights. Tax deductions vary case to case and are used at the discretion of the landowner and their tax preparer.

Where does your funding come from?

Lancaster Farmland Trust is funded mostly by generous donations from private individuals, businesses, and foundations. Protecting Lancaster County’s beautiful, productive farmland requires a considerable amount of resources. Fortunately, residents and visitors recognize the value in protecting our land – and all of the benefits it provides – and have made financial commitments in support of our work. A small portion of our funds are sourced from government agencies, but the majority of the funds we raise are private.

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