The farm has been in the family since 1790, says Jane Iseley a farmer in Alamance County, North Carolina. "I am the last of the generation." But Iseley didn't want the farm to become like so many of her neighbor's farms, a subdivision. Located between the rapidly growing North Carolina communities of Durham and Greensboro, Alamance County is quickly becoming a bedroom community for both. Her farm is located just outside of Burlington, the county's largest city.
"For the last ten years I have wanted to put the farm under a conservation easement," said Iseley. However, neither the county nor the local land conservancy had much money. She turned to the local NRCS office. "NRCS jumped on the bandwagon and began to look for options," she said.
The NRCS's Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program was able to provide almost 50 percent of the funds needed. Other sources needed to be found and working with the Piedmont Land Conservancy additional funds were found through the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund. Additional acres were also enrolled in the NC Ecosystem Enhancement Program.
Iseley operates a diverse farming operation located right along the banks of the Haw River that produces tobacco, cattle, and vegetables. She operates a thriving road side market in a large, rustic, permanent building that provides fresh fruits and vegetables to the nearby city folks. She works with 15 other farmers to keep the store stocked.
Though she grew up on the farm she moved away for 16 years. She came back to the farm in 1981 to help her father, whose health was failing. "I love the lifestyle,"she said. "The average young person can't buy the land to farm anymore." In areas like Alamance County farmland is often bought to build subdivisions and shopping centers. Developers can pay much more for the land than a person hoping to use it for farming. "If you get the development rights off the land they can afford to farm," Iseley said. "Protect it for the use the Lord intended."