Shank Farm Easement Adds To Key Preservation Area
Landowner Betty Shank is a landowner that protects her property through an easement with Tecumseh Land Trust (TLT). Her 99 acre farm off Rebert Pike adds to an almost contiguous 1200 acres of TLT permanently preserved farm land. The Shank family bought what is known as the Taylor farm in 2000. Betty recalls the purchase as a sentimental buy for her and her late husband Raymond, who had his eye on the property for a number of years. Betty had heard about Tecumseh Land Trust over time. Her friend since grade school, Julia Cady, a TLT volunteer, helped Betty get involved in preservation of her own land. Originally Betty wasn't sure about the idea of a conservation easement, but as she got older, she decided that it was the thing to do.
The actual process of getting the easement funded and completed took a few years, including gathering the support of Mad River Township. The township has worked for many years to preserve its rural nature including instituting a new rural zoning code and, in 2009 began dedicating $10,000 a year to farmland preservation. Betty says Julia and LTL “made the process very easy and pushed when I needed to be pushed” to meet the timelines of the Federal Farm and Ranch Protection Program (FRPP). FRPP which funded the majority of the easement along with the donation the township gave to TLT. Very few structural or landscaping changes have been made to this farm since the Shanks purchased it. It is mostly tillable land, with no farm buildings.
The Shanks’ two sons farm their family properties as well as other rented acreage. Betty says it is becoming hard and hard to come by enough rented farm ground to make a living. They purchased this farm to increase the land security of their farming operation. At this point, Betty says she is leaving the farming operation, research, decision making, and credit to the next generation: her grown children Peggy, Michael, and Gary. Betty adds, “An 86 year old widow has no business on the farm,” but she remains involved in the basics on her homestead – weeding, trimming, and doing a little gardening of her own.”