Land & Rare Breeds Conservation
Through collaboration with The Nature Conservancy and the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, Lizzie Biggs and Nelson Hoy have crafted a unique conservation easement that preserves forevermore a family farm and heritage breeds of livestock and poultry.
Aldo Leopold said in a 1939 essay entitled, The Farmer as Conservationist, “When the land does well for its owner, and the owner does well by his land – when both end up better by reason of their partnership – then we have conservation.” Leopold's philosophy is being applied today in the Berriedale Farms easement which arguably is the first in the United States to integrate land use and rare breeds conservation.
1. Stewardship Perspective – The Berriedale Farms conservation easement captures a long-term vision of how a 366 acre mountain farm, its grasslands and forests, should be cared for and maintained. The easement views the farm's agricultural and forest lands from the perspective of a steward who manages these natural resources during his or her lifetime and then, passes the lands on to another steward in better condition. The easement asks in other words, “What is best for the land over the long-haul of one, two, or three generations?”
2. Family Farm Integrity – The Berriedale Farms conservation easement maintains the entire family farm as one indivisible parcel – i.e., no division rights – an extraordinary stewardship commitment. On the plus side, keeping the farm as a whole helps to ensure its economic viability. No division rights, however, precludes breaking the farm into small lots and the financial rewards of residential (or commercial) development.
3 . Traditional Agriculture – The Berriedale Farms conservation easement encourages a traditional family farm operation with heritage breeds of grass-fed livestock, and free-range poultry. On the flip-side, the conservation easement explicitly prohibits commercial containment farming activities, and it discourages the broadcast application of commercial fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Traditional farm practices have worked well for generations of American Indians and family farmers from colonial times to the present.
4. Sustainable Forestry – The Berriedale Farms conservation easement provides for harvesting timber, pulpwood and firewood on a for-profit basis. The conservation easement, at the same time, fosters forest management practices that enhance the habitat of several common game species including: black bears, bobcats, wild turkeys and American woodcock. And it works to protect rare and endangered species including: golden-winged warblers, Virginia big-eared and Indiana bats, red-headed woodpeckers, and eastern meadowlarks.
5. Heritage Livestock & Poultry – The Berriedale Farms conservation easement is predicated upon the belief that land use and rare breeds conservation work well together from a business perspective. The easement, therefore, encourages the conservation of critically endangered, threatened or otherwise rare breeds of livestock and poultry which under our stewardship will be Red Poll Cattle and Buckeye chickens.
6. Public Conservation Values – The Berriedale Farms conservation easement protects a mature and continuous forest as a buffer against the George Washington National Forest and a bridge into the Commonwealth’s Highland Wildlife Management Area. The conservation easement protects the water quality of the Cowpasture River which flows into the James River and from there into the Chesapeake Bay. And it protects fragile Karst topography on Bullpasture Mountain and in the Cowpasture River Valley.
Nelson Hoy & Elizabeth (Lizzie) Biggs