Sunset Farm gets conservation easement

NEW GARDEN — Natural Lands announced Friday the preservation of 28 acres of farmland, orchard, and forest in the northwestern corner of New Garden Township, Chester County. Owners Lynn Sinclair and John Morris placed the property—known as Sunset Farm—under conservation easement, ensuring it will remain open forever.

A conservation easement is a legally binding agreement that remains in place in perpetuity.  The easement on the Sinclair-Morris property encompasses 23 of the 28-acre tract of land. Under the terms of the easement, passive recreation, meadow management, and sustainable agriculture are permitted.

“Without landowners like Lynn and John, who chose conservation, the beautiful landscape around us would be lost,” said Molly Morrison, president of Natural Lands. “Sunset Farm is among 23,617 acres—and counting—that Natural Lands has placed under conservation. Together, these meadows, woodlands, pastures, and stream valleys contribute to our air and water quality, offer us trails to explore, and build the character of our communities.”

The Sinclair-Morris property lies within the White Clay Creek watershed and contains a section of the East Branch White Clay Creek, a federally designated “Wild and Scenic River.” Fewer than 1/4 of 1 percent of our nation’s rivers are designated as such.  The property’s rolling hay fields and orchards create a charming vista, and embody the iconic Chester County landscape.

“Being involved in the preservation of this small piece of Chester County history and natural, scenic beauty for future generations has been rewarding,” said landowner Lynn Sinclair.

A public trail easement, held by the township, runs from north to south along the western boundary of the property, providing one of the first, critical links of a New Garden Township Greenways Trail planned for the area.

“We are thrilled that residents of New Garden Township now have 23 more acres protected from development,” said Chris Robinson, chairman of the township Open Space Review Board. “Preservation of the farm provides bucolic views, expands protection for the White Clay Creek Watershed, and makes possible a planned trail along the creek.”

The Arts and Crafts-style house on the property was built in 1915 by Thomas Crowell whose uncle was Thomas Eakins, a painter and sculptor known for his realistic depictions of Philadelphia and the surrounding countryside. Eakins spent several summers visiting his relations there and painting the local landscape. In 2001, PBS produced a documentary about Thomas Eakins, and spent a day filming on the property.

Funding support for this conservation project was provided by the National Park Service and New Garden Township.

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