The Land Conservancy of Adams County and a Franklin Township fruit grower recently preserved nearly 36 acres of woodland bordering Arendtsville. Ed and Linda McDannell, owners of McDannell’s Fruit Farm and Market on High Street in Arendtsville, preserved 35.97 acres of woodland in Franklin Township and Arendtsville Borough.

The woodland includes a portion of the Conewago Creek. At the same time, the McDannells preserved another 144 acres of farmland through the Adams County Agricultural Land Preservation Program.

“We’re thrilled to see the entire McDannell farm preserved,” said Sarah Kipp, land conservation coordinator with the Land Conservancy of Adams County. “These types of projects demonstrate the ongoing cooperation between the county’s preservation program and the Land Conservancy. This farm connects to orchard lands that have already been permanently protected by the Land Conservancy, continuing a large stretch of preserved parcels in the Fruit Belt. It’s important to protect woodland in these areas as well, since tree cover helps keep our creeks cool and clean as they flow to the Chesapeake.”

“We started thinking about preserving the farm a while ago, when our children were young,” said fruit grower Ed McDannell. “The farm’s been in the family a long time. My grandfather,
E. C. McDannell, owned most of this land, which consisted of two farms. As time went along my dad, Harry, Sr., and his brother, Charles, reached working age and started managing the farms.”

In 1978 Ed and Linda started renting both farms, gradually gaining ownership of Ed’s father’s farm and renting the Charles and Florence McDannell farm. The rental agreement included first right of refusal on the purchase of that farm. “Ever since Linda and I took over renting the farm, we approached my aunt and uncle almost every year about buying their part of the farm,” said Ed. “In 1984 we did add a 12-acre parcel owned by W. Herbert Orner.”

The couple eventually bought Ed’s uncle’s farm in 2014. “Once we were able to buy that land, we knew we didn’t want it to be developed,” said Ed’s wife Linda. “We asked all three of our children how they felt about housing development on any part of either farm. All three children agreed they wouldn’t want that to happen. That pretty much made up our minds that we wanted to preserve the property.” Linda noted that their children and grandchildren enjoy hiking down through the woods and seeing the wildlife. “Our family has always very much appreciated the beauty of Adams County,” she said.

Today the McDannells’ son Todd helps run the farm operation. Their daughter Jennifer lives nearby, and their other son, Chad, owns and lives on land bordering the farm. “To me the money was never the big thing,” said Ed. “Even growing up, even though my grandfather was no longer around, I was always trying to do what I thought he would have wanted. Having this land here for my children and grandchildren to be able to roam is what’s important. Our grandchildren love being here on the farm. It’s good having them all close by.”

I’ve always been aware of the development value of this land,” Ed added, “Especially with all the road frontage and as it’s partially in the borough of Arendtsville. But my hope has always been to keep this land in the family. My grandfather would have wanted that.”