“We want to keep the face of the farm the same: No houses,” said Mt. Pleasant farmer Doug Clabaugh,  explaining why he and his wife Christine decided to preserve their 87-acre farm in partnership with the Land Conservancy of Adams County, who announced the preservation of the farm in May 2020.

Doug Clabaugh’s parents, Miriam and Robert, purchased the farm in 1952 and christened it MiRo Farm in a nod to their first names. Today Doug and Christine raise beef cows and turkeys, as well as the hay, wheat, corn, and soybeans that feeds them.

“This was the second farm that we’ve preserved with members of the Clabaugh family,” said Land Conservancy of Adams County conservation coordinator Sarah Kipp, who worked with the Clabaughs on the conservation easement that preserves their farm as farmland, forever. “Two years ago we preserved 90 acres belonging to [Doug’s aunt] Barb Clabaugh, which is the farm next door.”

Doug is particularly proud of his cattle. He has a Piedmontese bull that he crosses with different breeds of heifers, including Herefords and Black Angus. The Piedmontese breed comes from the Italian Alps and is known for a unique genetic mutation called a myostatin, which causes “double muscling.” Clabaugh’s well-muscled Piedmontese bull produces offspring that have very tender, low-fat meat: a popular combination these days. Doug sells his beef at Reichart Butcher Shop and Weaver’s Butcher Shop and Farm Market, as well as through bulk orders from the farm.

The conservation easement preserving the Clabaugh farm was acquired through a “bargain sale,” which means that while the Clabaughs received financial compensation for forfeiting the income they could have received by developing their land, they didn’t receive the full development value.

The majority of the funds used to purchase the easement came from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service through its Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. Thanks to the support of its members and donors, the Land Conservancy of Adams County was able to contribute half the grant amount, as required by the grant’s terms.

In addition to donating a portion of their land’s potential development value, the Clabaughs made a cash donation to the Land Conservancy of Adams County’s Stewardship Fund, which sets aside funds for monitoring and defending the conservation easements it holds. “As an obligation we accept in perpetuity, we’re grateful that the Clabaughs recognize the significance of this responsibility and have helped us make sure that their property will stay a farm long after they are no longer living there,” said Kipp.