Our heritage, our history, and our landscape all depend on wise stewardship of our country’s most precious resource: our land. We all agree on the value of this asset, to our lives and for future generations. And yet, in growing communities all across America, farmland is being developed, at a pace of over a million acres per year. Including forest and other valuable land, the threat is even greater. The task of protecting our remaining rural areas has largely fallen to municipalities, to environmental groups, to land trusts and conservation-minded individuals.
Each group has developed approaches to protect rural land—cluster zoning, conservation tax credits, development-right transfers, or outright purchases, but the results are mixed. We are often able to find funds, public or private, to preserve our most extraordinary places, but for every new state park or conservation easement, scores of rural properties succumb to unsustainable development practices. The problem is simply too large to be solved by public funding or by charity. At the same time, the agricultural and forestry economy which support these lands is seldom part of the preservation equation. “Protected” properties without an active management program fall into disrepair and, though saved from development, too often end up as a shadow of their former beauty and agricultural or ecological function.
Qroe Farm Preservation Development was established nearly thirty years ago to answer the question: could there be an outcome between these two extremes? The Qroe Farm system is an approach that integrates conservation land and land management in the context of highly sensitive development, typically without public subsidy. In most Qroe communities, upwards of 80% of farm, forest and other ecologically-important land is preserved, while creating new residential space carefully integrated into the landscape. Through the use of a unique combination of strategically-located homesites, low impact development (LID) techniques, easements, and design guidelines, market forces are harnessed to create conservation lands alongside modest development, increasing the value and function of each. The community preserves precious viewsheds and ecological resources at no cost, homebuyers get a guaranteed environment and landscape, and the agricultural operations receive a structure and management they require to continue as an operating farm.
Land Owners and Farmers can harvest the value of their properties (often the rural family’s equivalent to a 401k) while being assured that the stewardship of the property’s natural legacy will continue on in perpetuity. Farmers can recover the cash value of their property, yet continue to farm it through an arrangement that can often be passed to the next generation or sold.
Communities, environmental groups and individuals trying to protect land from highly consumptive development can substantially meet their objectives at no cost through association with Qroe Farm Preservation Development. The model is flexible, can accommodate a number of landscape types and zoning approaches, and is typically fiscally positive for the municipality.
Home Buyers looking for large acreage lots with a distinctive quiet, rural atmosphere will find a guaranteed preserved environment that will maintain its value. Views and landscape are secure for the long-term, and maintenance of the agricultural land is handled in common, not by individuals. The homebuyer purchases just a few acres, but acquires the deeded right to enjoy most of the acreage throughout the entire development, often including outdoor amenities such as trails or horse facilities.