Jefferson County Welcomes Two Farms to the Farmland Protection Program

On December 19, 2022 Jefferson County added two farms totaling 453 acres to its growing family of permanently protected agricultural properties, bringing the county’s total to 6,316 acres on 54 farms. Timothy Brown and John Hendricks each signed their Deed of Conservation Easement with the Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, concluding many months of planning and legal work.

Working with the Farmland Protection Board, Mr. Brown and Mr. Hendricks voluntarily established the conservation easements on their farms that maintain working lands, natural habitat and rural open space in perpetuity.

A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a conservation organization which landowners can use to retire development rights permanently on all or part of their land to protect its natural, agricultural, scenic and historic values. Landowners in turn receive funds for the development value of their land and retain full use and ownership of the land. Because an easement is perpetual, it is transferred with the property when it is sold or inherited, thereby protecting it forever.

Tim inherited the 311-acre Brown’s Farm from his father Ronald Brown, who bought the land from his uncle when he graduated from high school. The property on Harry Shirley Road contains a stone farmhouse built in 1815. Ronald farmed the land for 68 years and brought up his family there. Tim didn’t want to give up the farm where he was born and where he has lived and worked all his life. He remarked, “If I didn’t have the farm, it would take away an important part of my childhood.”

The Brown family discussed the Farmland Protection Program with their attorney and decided that by selling a conservation easement on the farm, Ronald could realize his goals to keep the farm in the family and to be fair to his two children. Ronald was able to see his plans set in motion before he passed away in January 2022.

Tim Brown said, “The process of getting the farm protected takes a very long time, but it’s definitely worth it for me and my wife Staci and our son Victor and daughter Rylee. They are the third generation on the farm and plan to stay involved with the farm after they finish their education.

Brown’s Farm produces beef cattle, grain crops and hay. Tim and Staci’s future plans include making improvements to buildings and farm practices to help them “grow money, too.”
Tim said, “We can thank Ronald Brown for keeping the farm in the family. He would have been proud to have protected the land. The farm and family were the most important part of his life.”
John Hendrick’s 142-acre Spring Hill Farm has been in his family since 1762 when his eighth great grandfather Colonel James Hendricks purchased a 360-acre tract that was part of a Lord Fairfax Grant. The property on Ridge Road in Shenandoah Junction contains a stone house originally constructed in 1780 with a brick wing added in 1867 and a bank barn built in 1880. The farm abuts the Hockman family’s historic York Hill property and 285 acres of Twin Ridge Orchard lands protected in 2009 and 2011.
Spring Hill Farm produces hay and grain crops and contains a large, forested section. Mr. Hendricks plans to work on removing invasive plant species to enhance habitat for wildlife.
Mr. Hendricks advises those who are considering the protection of their property to have patience because the process is lengthy and to focus on the benefits of a conservation easement. He said, “I became interested mostly to protect my family heritage and to make sure the land is preserved from development. It’s also important to protect land for wildlife as the land they have is getting scarcer.”
Jefferson County’s commitment to farmland protection is reflected in its most recent comprehensive plan. The Jefferson County WV Envision Jefferson 2035 Comprehensive Plan, states, “One goal of this Plan is to maintain productive farmland soils and the rural character and economy of the County by reducing the conversion of farmland to non-agricultural based uses.”

“Protecting our county’s farmland goes hand in hand with protecting the quality of life in Jefferson County,” said Elizabeth Wheeler, the Board’s Program Director. “Our whole community wins when landowners conserve their land. Local farms provide us with healthy food, support a diverse economy, and protect water supplies, wildlife habitat and the scenic and historical landscapes that make Jefferson County such a beautiful place to live and visit.”

About the Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board

The Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board was established under a state law passed in 2000 that allows West Virginia counties to levy a transfer tax on real estate to purchase development rights from landowners who wish to protect their land for agricultural purposes.

The board partners with the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, the American Battlefield Protection Program, and other organizations that provide matching funds. “We also accept donations of all or part of easement sales,” said Wheeler, “Landowners may find a donation can allow a reduction in Federal income tax. The Board welcomes applications at any time but selects properties in November of each year.”

For more information about the Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board, contact the Board at: 304-724-1414 or