Semler Family

Dairy Farm Preserved As Part of Yellow Springs Greenbelt

Since the 1970’s the Village of Yellow Springs has had a vision to create a greenbelt around the western edge of town that would protect its drinking water source – the Jacoby Creek. To turn this vision into action the Village established a Green Space Fund to which the Village Council contributes money to help preserve key properties from development. This year, that fund was put to good use to help preserve the Semler farm on Snypp Road, which contains the headwaters of the Jacoby Creek.

Farmers Kingsley (left) and Jim Semler (right) showed off their award-winning holstein, Scarlett. Their farm, which contains the headwaters of the Jacoby creek, was recently preserved from development by the Tecumseh Land Trust. (Photo by Megan Bachman)

Farmers Kingsley (left) and Jim Semler (right) showed off their award-winning holstein, Scarlett. Their farm, which contains the headwaters of the Jacoby creek, was recently preserved from development by the Tecumseh Land Trust. (Photo by Megan Bachman)

The Semler farm is one of four remaining dairy farms in Greene County. This 171-acre farm, with lush pasture, rolling hills, woods, and row crops, was purchased in the early 1950’s by Paul Semler. It was then farmed by his son, Kingsley, and today is still in production with around 80 cows by Kingsley’s son Jim. With many family members still living on the farm and all having a strong connection to the land the Semler family had a deep desire to see it forever preserved. In 2007, the family approached Tecumseh Land Trust (TLT) about preserving their land. They had a few projects to complete before the easement could be done, but by 2010 they were ready. TLT staff quickly sprang into action to secure funds from the Village of Yellow Springs Green Space Fund, TLT’s own 1% for Green Space Fund which is funded through Yellow Springs merchants, and the Federal Farm and Ranch Protection Program funded through the Farm Bill. “Finding a project that meets the goals of all three of these funding sources can be tricky, but this project did and it has been a great success,” says Michele Burns TLT Associate Director.

The Village was able to secure its first purchased easement along the Jacoby Creek and the Semler’s have been able to reinvest that money into the dairy operation to help ensure its profitability in the long run. Although some funding sources are currently at risk with the budget cuts to local governments, TLT is very hopeful it can still secure a few more projects along the Jacoby Creek, Burns says, “This is an interesting time for land preservation but we are marching ahead to do the best we can with the dollars that are available.”