By Musolé Kambinda, Communications Manager
Protecting farmland is crucial to sustain local food systems, habitats, and water. In September, Triangle Land Conservancy secured an 86-acre agricultural conservation easement on a farm in Zebulon in Wake County. “This was the first TLC farmland project in Wake County that matched Federal and State funding resources with local County Bond Funds,” said Brenna Thompson, TLC’s Land Protection Manager – East. “We’re grateful for Wake County’s support of farmland protection and hope that this will inspire the dedication of funds for even more projects in the County,” she added.
This agricultural easement advances TLC’s goal of supporting local farms and food and preserves a family farm in one of the fastest-growing counties in North Carolina. Around 99% of the soil on this property consists of prime farmland or farmland of statewide importance. The establishment of the easement here will preserve the opportunity for agriculture in an area under enormous development pressure. Rotational grazing of sheep and cattle raised on the ranch facilitates the regeneration of grasses. As part of the Neuse River Basin, it supports the region’s biodiversity and is a critical wildlife corridor. The easement additionally protects over a mile of perennial and intermittent streams that provide safe drinking water for now and future generations to come.
With Mangum terraces and a cemetery dating to the 1800s, the property has an array of fascinating historical features. The named terraces were developed in Wake County in the late 19th century and are a system of hillside ridges used to increase cultivatable land, conserve soil moisture, and minimize erosion.
The nearly 20 acres of forested land on the property hold mature hardwoods that the landowner manages for wildlife habitat and selective timber harvest for on-farm lumber needs. But the land has other qualities that add value to the community: rolling hills and pristine waters to healthy woodland that supports various species of plants and animals. The streams on this property make it important to conserve for watershed health and protecting water draining to the downstream Buckhorn Reservoir.
TLC purchased this conservation easement with funding from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Land Easement Program, the North Carolina Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund, and Wake County.
Every Acre Counts
The American Farmland Trust has ranked Wake County 32nd in the nation for likely farmland loss by 2040.
While new development is needed to cater to our growing population, poor planning and protection undermines our local food systems, livelihoods, and the environment we all count on. The relentless push of development is paving over farmland, water sources, and other vital biodiverse areas, imperiling our future. By collaborating with people within the community, TLC can continue to push toward our goal of protecting 1,000 aces a year, and 25,000 acres total by 2025.
“Supporting farmland protection in Wake County is more vital that ever and is key to preserving local food systems as well as the agricultural heritage and scenic character of rural communities, ” noted Thompson.
Ultimately, achieving our Strategic Action Plan goals requires much sustained effort and is a huge undertaking. Everyone can play a part in building on these successes to counter the threats to our irreplaceable natural resources and farmland to build a sustainable future.
Please note that this is a conservation easement and does not allow for public access, although TLC hopes to partner with the landowner to offer some guided tours in the future.