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Boyer’s Nursery preserves 900-acre family farm in Franklin Township

(9/11) For a long time, the Lower family has dreamed of preserving their "Home Farm" for future generations. The Lowers own Boyer Nurseries and Orchards on Boyer Nursery Road in Franklin Township, and the land surrounding the family’s nursery and farm stand has been theirs since W.W. Boyer bought it back in 1900. Mary Lower initially approached the Land Conservancy of Adams County about preserving the farm in 2010, and this year the family realized their dream of permanently preserving more than 900 acres of farmland.

"The scenic beauty of the home farm meant a lot to us," said Mary’s daughter, Emma Lower, the fifth generation to work in the family business. "We get a lot of customers who come in and admire the beauty of the setting. We wanted to preserve that landscape for future generations."

The family’s farm is located high in the hills of western Adams County, where rainfall and spring water drain into rivulets and streams that eventually help form Marsh Creek, which provides drinking water to those living in the Gettysburg area. Waters from the farm ultimately drain downstream into both the Potomac and Susquehanna rivers on their way to the Chesapeake Bay. "We know there are a lot of natural springs and vernal pools in the woodland behind the farm and it’s an important water resource, so limiting development in this area was really important to us," Emma said.

Like her mother, who gained an understanding of land use and preservation issues through serving at one time with the Adams County Planning Commission, Emma Lower was more than personally motivated to preserve the family farm. She had seen what could happen in locations where careful stewardship of the land and its resources was absent. "I worked briefly in land development before I came back to the family business," she said. "The projects I worked on were mainly farmland being developed into high-density subdivisions, and I didn’t want to see that happen here."

The Lower family worked with the Land Conservancy to craft four separate conservation easements, which are voluntary legal agreements tailored to the landowner’s wishes and attached to the property title that specify the kind and amount of development the landowner wants to allow on the property, now and in perpetuity. The first two of these conservation easements were settled in 2013, with the second two settled this past June. All together, the Lower family has preserved more than 900 acres of the Home Farm.

"For us, it was a very easy process," Emma said. "All we had to do, as a family, was make that initial decision to preserve the land, and then it was all the Land Conservancy."

Once the Lower family contacted the Land Conservancy, Conservation Coordinator Sarah Kipp went to work researching grants to reimburse the family for the value of their easement contracts. The two most recent easement settlements were funded in part by the federal Farm and Ranchland Protection Program, which is overseen by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Matching funds were provided by Adams County’s Green Space Program. Other easement costs were underwritten by the Potomac Highlands Implementation Grant, which is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency and administered by the nonprofit American Rivers, which works to protect and restore the nation’s rivers and streams.

"This was a large project, with proportionally more expensive surveys, appraisals, and other costs, so it was fortunate that we were able to use some of the Potomac Highlands Implementation Grant to help cover the easement costs," said Kipp. "This grant prioritizes upland forests and headwaters in the Potomac Watershed, so it was a perfect partner for this important project."

The Land Conservancy of Adams County is an accredited nonprofit land trust dedicated to preserving the rural lands and character of Adams County. It works with interested landowners to develop conservation easements that protect the county’s open spaces, farmlands, forests, and water resources. For more information about the Land Conservancy, call (717) 334-2828, email, or visit

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