Ashley Davies is the Regional Conservationist for Sudbury Valley Trustees for the 2011-2012 service year.
As a Regional Conservationist I have spent much of my first two months at SVT trying to get land protection projects started and setting the groundwork for others to successfully pursue such projects. I sit in front of a computer pinpointing land that is ecologically valuable and compiling a list of landowners that I hope will respond well to my appeal for conservation. Although I find this hunt to be an interesting part of the job and enjoy the fact that the outcome may be the protection of land, I have found that the human element of the land protection process can sometimes make my work even more fulfilling.
Many landowners have no interest in the information you’ve sent them, but there are those who come along and make all of your efforts seem worthwhile. For these individuals land is not only a beautiful and important resource, it is also the cornerstone of their family and their lives.
In mid-October I had the pleasure of walking a 100-acre farm where I witnessed one family’s sincere devotion to their land. The farm is a beautiful and historic property well-known for the scenery it provides and treasured by local residents. Although the farm has been appreciated for hundreds of years, the beautiful landscape wouldn’t exist today if it weren’t for the hard work and dedication of the family that calls it home.
The farm has been owned by this same family for five generations and dedication to the property seems to be an inherited trait. In the early 1990’s the family began taking steps toward forever protecting the farm through a conservation restriction and since that time they have painstakingly worked to protect and preserve every detail of the land and homestead that is so well loved.
Taking care of a 100-acre farm and its 200 year old home and out buildings is a full time job. Most who inherit family land can’t keep up with such rigorous demands but where there is a strong enough will there is a way. This family maintains the land by leasing some of their fields to a local farmer and by regularly mowing the remaining fields. In doing this they provide habitat for declining grassland bird species and ensure that their family farm retains its agricultural legacy.
Working toward land conservation is extremely rewarding for its results alone but knowing that conserving a piece of land will be preserving the lifeblood of a family and the history of a town makes the conservation that much more meaningful.