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Pa. preserves two York County farms

Greg Gross
505-5433/@ggrossyd

Two York County farms, totaling just shy of 190 acres, were preserved by the Pennsylvania Agricultural Land Preservation Board recently.

In this file  photo, about 200 people gather in the middle of Beaver Street in York for the Farm to City Street Dinner featuring food freshly harvested from local farms, Sunday October 4, 2015. (John A. Pavoncello - jpavoncello@yorkdispatch.com)

Both were part of 33 farms in 18 counties preserved by the board on Thursday and combine for 2,652 acres of freshly saved farmland statewide.

"This investment in the finite, precious resource of farmland shows Pennsylvania's commitment to a locally grown food source that is instrumental in feeding a growing population," Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said in a news release.

The state land preservation board works hand-in-hand with its county counterparts to buy easements, which prevents land from being developed into, for example, a housing development. Neither the state nor the counties actually own the land, just the development rights.

Locally: In York County, the state board approved preserving the 129-acre Evelyn Rehmeyer farm, primarily used in corn and soybean production, in Shrewsbury Township, said Will Nichols, spokesman for the Department of Agriculture.

The state covered all of the costs of preserving the farm

The board also approved preserving the 60-acre Gregory and Kristina Wilt farm, also in Shrewsbury Township, that is used in crop and livestock operations. The county's preservation program covered costs and was reimbursed for incidental expenses in title fees, deed-recording and others by the state, Nichols said.

So far this year the county's program has preserved 11 farms, totaling 1,059 acres, said Eric Naylor, the county's farmland preservation technician.

A 12th farm, accounting for 206 acres, is expected to be preserved by year's end, he said.

Pennsylvania leads the nation in farmland preservation and York County ranks third in the state.

Since the county's program began buying easements in 1991, it has saved about 40,000 acres from development. Statewide,  516,417 acres have been preserved since  in 1988.

"York County is a  pretty good chunk of that," Naylor said.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.