Stewardship in LFT: What do we mean when we talk about stewardship and farmland?
January 17, 2024
the job of supervising or taking care of something, such as an organization or property.
When we preserve a farm here at LFT, that's only the beginning of our work. As an accredited land trust, stewardship plays a significant role in our work with protected farms. LFT staff regularly check in on those preserved farms to uphold our commitment to protecting those farms forever. These check-ins are called monitoring visits.
What is a Monitoring Visit?
When a farmer preserves their farmland with LFT, we assume the responsibility of ensuring that farmland stays farmland in perpetuity. Monitoring visits ensure that a farm is running smoothly and that the agreed-upon easement is followed. An LFT staff member visits every single one of our preserved farms each year – as of now, that's 586 farm visits. During monitoring visits, we look for two main things: easement violations and poor resource management.
Think of an easement as a "rule book." These documents outline what is and is not allowed on a farm property that's been preserved. Monitoring visits ensure the easement is consistently upheld by the farmer, and easement violations require action by LFT Staff. Violations could include neighbor encroachment or trespass, unapproved subdivisions of land, unapproved structures, or changes to farm operations. For example, a farmer must ensure the land stays open for agricultural use and not pave over their protected land.
Resource Management Deficiencies
When a farmer signs an easement with LFT, they agree to a standard set of resource management practices. These practices help the farmer maintain and ensure their farm and the surrounding areas are healthy and sustainable. Poor resource management can lead to gullies, flooding, streambank degradation, and barnyard issues. Solutions to these deficiencies are Best Management Practices (BMPs), such as implementing tree buffers and manure management plans. More rigorous management practices are implemented in "High Protection Areas," or areas involving water, woods, or other environmentally critical areas. This helps farmers to better protect these areas from damage or erosion.
Why Does This Matter?
Our goal is not only to protect Lancaster's farmland but to care for it as well. Monitoring our farms ensures that prime farmland is properly cared for and at its best for our farmers and communities. These visits also allow LFT staff members to continue to foster relationships with farmers in the county, providing them with the support they need for success.
Our commitment to Lancaster County doesn't stop at farmland preservation. We are committed to supporting farmers, fertile farmland, and healthy waterways.
Click the link below to watch our most recent video about land stewardship! Plus, connect with us on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn to receive regular updates on our work.