“It’s the chance of a lifetime,” said Natural Lands President Molly Morrison, describing her organization’s effort to preserve 1,505 acres in northern Chester County known as Bryn Coed Farms. On June 1st, that chance took two important steps toward becoming a reality.

Natural Lands launched the Campaign for Bryn Coed Farms earlier this year with the goal of raising $5 million in community support in order to establish a 500-acre nature preserve at Bryn Coed. The Campaign received a significant boost when the William Penn Foundation of Philadelphia offered a $2 million challenge grant, requiring that Natural Lands raise an equivalent amount. That milestone was reached on June 1st when the total raised surpassed $4.2 million after just four short months.

“To date, we’ve received gifts from nearly 500 households, ranging in size from $5 to $500,000,” said Morrison. “It’s been a wonderfully moving experience to see this tangible outpouring of love for this iconic property.”

Also on June 1st, Natural Lands took ownership of the entire 1,505 acres. “It’s another major milestone,” Morrison noted, “and we are tremendously grateful to those who got us to this point.” She added, though, that the Campaign for Bryn Coed Farms is not yet over. “We have just under $750,000 left to raise in order to fulfill our vision of a 500-acre nature preserve—one that will be a treasured gem in the community and the county for generations.”

The more money the organization is able to raise, the more land it will be able to keep as a nature preserve—one that will be open daily, free of charge, to everyone. The remainder will be protected via a conservation easement and sold to private owners.

“The scale of this project and its impact on water quality in Pickering Creek, a tributary of the Schuylkill River, make this a regionally significant opportunity to create permanently protected open space with substantial public access that will also have lasting effects on our clean water,” said Andrew Johnson, program director for watershed protection at the William Penn Foundation. “It is truly exciting that Natural Lands has demonstrated its expertise in making this complicated transaction happen, and that the community has stepped up with significant funding.”

“Opportunities to protect landscapes like Bryn Coed Farms don’t come around every day, or even every lifetime,” said the Martins.

“We’ve worked neighbor by neighbor and friend by friend. We knew the community wouldn’t squander this opportunity,” added the Zimmermans.

The fate of Bryn Coed Farms has been the subject of much speculation over the years as development pressures have increased in the region. Located primarily in West Vincent Township, Chester County, with portions also in East and West Pikeland Townships, the property is one of the largest remaining undeveloped, unprotected tracts of land in the Greater Philadelphia region.

Contributions to the Campaign for Bryn Coed Farms can be made at bryncoedfarms.org/give.