Montgomery County Enters Agreement of Sale for Conservation Easement with College Settlement of Philadelphia

Montgomery County

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, PACollege Settlement of Philadelphia recently entered into an agreement of sale with Montgomery County for an agricultural conservation easement on the non-profit’s 31-acre farm property, ensuring it will remain a working farm in perpetuity.

“As we begin to commemorate the 50th anniversary of our Outdoor School program in 2023, and we conclude the 100th anniversary of the College Settlement Camp in Horsham, we are pleased to announce an agreement of sale with Montgomery County for an Agricultural Conservation Easement on the Pennypack Farm property, ensuring that this farm will remain as farmland in perpetuity, and will always be included in our curriculum for our summer camp and outdoor school programs,” said Terry Dougherty, Executive Director of College Settlement.

The 31-acre property, which includes 24 acres of farming maintained under lease to the Pennypack Farm & Education Center and an additional portion which is in a conservation easement with the Natural Lands Trust, was purchased by College Settlement of Philadelphia founder Anna Freeman Davies in the summer of 1926.

“With our staff and board putting 20 years of hard work, investment, and love into this land, we are equally as thrilled to know it now has a protected legacy thanks to this easement,” said Julie McCabe, Executive Director of Pennypack Farm & Education Center. “We are grateful to be supported by College Settlement in our efforts to create not only an amazing organic farm, but a model for regenerative and sustainable agricultural practices we can share with the local community and many others who follow our work. We look forward to a collaborative relationship and programming with College Settlement for many years to come.”

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Pennypack Farm’s collaborative programming with College Settlement teaches thousands of campers and students about where their food comes from and fosters an appreciation for farms and farmers.

According to a contemporary newspaper account in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, “In past years (the farm) was known as the Whitmer poultry farm… In buying the farm the Settlement proposed to make itself a kind of ‘country uncle’ to hundreds of city children, their parents and relatives, offering them a chance to get acquainted with the out-of-doors. For most of the youngsters it is their only contact with vigorous American farm life. The things which are common to the country boy are strange and full of wonder to most of them. Cows, pigs, water-bugs, growing grain, trees, rabbits are all largely things read of but not seen.”

Stephen Zbyszinski, Farmland Preservation Planner with the Montgomery County Planning Commission, noted, “We have entered into an agreement between Montgomery County and College Settlement with an agricultural conservation easement on a working, productive farm. This enables the landowner, in this case College Settlement, to keep the land as a preserved farm and a working operation. In addition to Montgomery County, we are working with Horsham Township and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, recognizing the benefits this farm property brings to the communities in Horsham Township, Montgomery County and the commonwealth.”

Assessment of the agricultural conservation easement on the College Settlement farm property is $1,948,000, with closing of the sale expected by the end of 2023.

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