An exciting partnership between Montgomery County Lands Trust, New Hanover Township, and Fellowship Farm brought land conservation and additional resources to a social services group with a special mission.
Located in a peaceful rural setting, Fellowship Farm (since provides a wide array of benefits for diverse groups from the Philadelphia region and beyond. Fellowship Farm focuses on youth and family programs aimed at helping people become leaders in their own lives and giving them the vision and skills they need to transform their communities.
Now, thanks to the Montgomery County Lands Trust (MCLT), New Hanover Township, and a Growing Greener grant, the land on which the center rests is permanently protected. New Hanover Township considered the project a high priority in their open space plan and encouraged MCLT to apply for the grant. Because of the collaborative effort, 112 of the 120 acres owned by Fellowship Farm were preserved. The remaining non-eased acreage will continue its use for buildings and programs.
The Environmental Stewardship Fund funded the purchase of 50% of the value of the development rights. With the first half of the funding in place, MCLT and New Hanover Township were able to successfully apply for match funding from the Montgomery County Green Fields/Green Towns Program.
Public access on the preserved land, with trails connecting to a New Hanover trail network and a future Lower Pottsgrove trail system, are important features of the conservation agreement. Trails running through the grounds take hikers over a large portion of the wooded area. A pond, stream, and barnyard with a llama, goat, and donkey are other farm highlights.
The rural character and quality of life drew Fellowship Farm to its present location in 1951 to enable its participants to benefit from a retreat setting while doing human relations training. Over the years, urban sprawl in nearby areas made the setting even more precious. As open space disappeared, it became important for the non-profit group to resist the financial pressures of selling a portion of the farm. The completed conservation agreement allows them to gain financial security while preserving the majority of the land. New Hanover Township and the surrounding community will benefit by holding onto some of their rapidly disappearing open space and Montgomery County will continue to enjoy a cultural and natural resource.