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More Than 1,000 Acres Of Farmland Preserved In The Miami Valley This Year

The Ritenour farm house and soy crops at dusk
Chris Welter
The Ritenour farm house, and rows of soy crop at dusk

Over 1,000 acres of farmland were preserved in the Miami Valley this year through the Ohio Department of Agriculture's local agricultural easement purchase program.

An agricultural easement is basically a development restriction -- it’s added to the property’s deed, and says a farm has to stay a farm, even if the owner of the property changes. Local sponsoring organizations, which include land trusts, counties and local Soil and Water Conservation Districts, receive funding from the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund to purchase an easement from a landowner.

Denise Ritenour-Shaneyfelt and her four siblings decided this year to sell an easement on their family farm near Jamestown. So, they entered into an agreement with the Tecumseh Land Trust as their local sponsor. The farm has been in the Ritenour family for six generations. Before that, it was owned by the family of congressman John Little.

“We have a limited commodity. Land is not a renewable resource." Shaneyfelt says, "a store or shopping center will come in and make all this blacktop and then they leave the store and it grows up with weeds. We just want to preserve the land for its intended use rather than it being sold and used for non-agricultural development.”

The Ritenour farm, also known as Grape Grove by some, used to be a livestock operation but now it’s planted in a rotation of corn, soy, and wheat.

Environmental reporter Chris Welter is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Chris Welter is the Managing Editor at The Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO.

Chris got his start in radio in 2017 when he completed a six-month training at the Center for Community Voices. Most recently, he worked as a substitute host and the Environment Reporter at WYSO.