Working in partnership with Hamilton Township landowner Don Stabler, the Land Conservancy of Adams County has placed 80.16 acres of farmland under a conservation easement, ensuring the land will remain undeveloped in perpetuity, in accordance with the landowner’s wishes.

When Don Stabler received his parents’ farm last year, he knew he wanted to complete their wishes to preserve the farm on which they had raised their five children.

Don’s parents, Art and Helen, purchased the farm in 1962. “We were living in York at that time, but Dad had been working for an architectural firm that was based in New Oxford and wanted to get closer to it,” Don explains. “He grew up on a farm and they wanted to raise a family on one, even though he was an architect by trade.”

The land had long been—and still is—primarily cropland, with some cattle on the pastures. The barn on the property was built in 1874. The Stabler family settled into the farmhouse and leased the land to neighboring farmers. Stabler and his siblings were able to help out occasionally—“We helped make hay in the summertime,” Don says.

Stabler’s parents had long cherished the idea of preserving their land as farmland, and when it became clear that the county agland preservation program was not going to be an option, they turned to the Land Conservancy of Adams County. “Our preference for the future has always been for the farm to continue to be a farm,” Stabler says. “Picturing a development on it wasn’t attractive to us or our neighbors.”

Sadly, Art Stabler passed away in December 2017, but Don carried on with the preservation process. “My family’s goal has always been to keep the farm a farm—it’s my family’s home. My girls have been able to grow up on the farm like I did, so they have an appreciation for it as well. My number one goal is to keep my mom living there until she passes, then to keep the farm in the family as long as I possibly can.”

“This property was a great fit for us because there are so many ‘conservation values’ that we appreciate in addition to the working farmland,” says Land Conservancy Conservation Coordinator Sarah Kipp. “This property has tons of road frontage—a half mile—which affords scenic views of open space and the charming farmstead near the road. It also has a meandering section of Pine Run passing through, and the forested area around the creek helps to protect water resources downstream.”