After our (productive) morning Annual Meeting in February, we are continuing the tradition of hosting a Meet ‘n Greet for any Friends or guests of PTLT. Please join us at 12:30 pm for local Maryland wine, sandwiches, and hearty conversation about preserving Southern Maryland’s open space. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer of PTLT, this is also a good time to meet the whole Board and other Friends of PTLT. Ask questions, learn more, and see what you can do to keep open space OPEN…forever! It is the only method that has been shown to work, in perpetuity…and that’s a long time!
Summerseat Sanctuary Farm, a PTLT Land Trust Co-held Easement. Also a vineyard that supplies delicious grapes to the Port of Leonardtown Winery.
Opportunities for you to Volunteer! WANTED:
Wanted new volunteers to help with events: Geo-caching, canoe/kayak events, Meet and Greet venues, Trails group, Board Members, Weed Warriors (vine removal in public places), etc. Do you have a special interest that pairs well with saving open space and keeping southern Maryland special and dear to you? Let us know your interest and we will find a place for you in this very special mission.
Thank you to our diligent cadre of property monitors for successfully hiking the 30+ easements (over 5,000 acres) for 2016. It was our third year of 100% compliance on monitoring! (PTLT has a very successful monitoring program.) It can be very enjoyable walking some of the beautiful preserved places, meeting the farmers and landowners who care about the quality of the land for future generations, and just getting some lovely outdoor time. It all has to be done by Dec. 31st of each calendar year. Whew! What a job our Monitor Coordinator has rounding up all the volunteers, making sure they are all properly trained, and getting up-to-date information and maps to all of them. If we can, let’s give a big round of applause to Fred Victor, PTLT Volunteer Monitor Coordinator!
If you are interested in becoming a property monitor, we do have 5 new properties that need to be monitored by the end of Feb. You could learn and accompany an experienced monitor, for training purposes. If you want to sign up for our Fall monitor training class, please contact email@example.com All monitoring is done in the winter months when there are less ticks, mosquitos, and leaves (to see into the forest better!…and to get some needed Vitamin D in the winter.)
Come join PTLT president Frank Allen on the first Saturday of the month, 9:00 AM-12 at Myrtle Point Park, for Invasive Plant Removal work. Help save the trees there by ridding them of the vines and invasive alien species that pull them down. Frank has been a gardener, plant collector, and a regular Johnny Appleseed (that is his nickname by some) for over 60 years. You can always learn more about plants hanging around with him outdoors. Questions? Frank: firstname.lastname@example.org
PTLT’s mission is to sustain the region’s biodiversity and water resources through a network of protected landscapes. The organization recognizes that forest and farmland and the region’s unique historic and scenic character are vital to a healthy economy and citizens’ sense of well-being. PTLT acquires land and conservation easements by purchase or donation. The Trust has conserved over 5,000 acres of land in perpetuity, keeping it as farm and forest to meet today’s needs and those of future generations.
Sivan Family Preserves Farm and Forest
Story and Photos by Sue Wilkerson
Not far from the busy-ness and businesses of downtown Lexington Park lie 304 bucolic acres of forests and farm fields. The Sivak family has lived on this land for four generations. Michael Sivak and three brothers were coal miners in Iowa when they learned of an opportunity to purchase land in Southern Maryland. In 1912, they purchased 156 acres in Hermanville from The National Slavonic Society. Six more years in the coal mines allowed them to pay off the property and the Sivaks settled in St. Mary’s County.
“We’re not sure if Michael Sivak ever farmed the property,” said Lucille Sivak, the family matriarch. “His son, Paul, may have been the first to farm. My husband, Paul’s son John, grew tobacco and maintained a garden for the family table while he worked for the post office. Then, in the 70s, my eldest son, Charlie, got the idea to grow pumpkins to sell to the public.” A decade later, after John retired, the family began market farming in earnest. Since then, the Sivak Produce truck stand, on the side of Route 235, has been a destination for local fruits and vegetables. Three of John and Lucille’s surviving five children, now adults, are involved in the enterprise. Mary Lou Garrison and Alan focus on produce. Bruce grows commodity grains when he’s not running his excavating company.
Alan remembers, “Along with Michael’s original acreage, we worked part of the Owens farm next to ours after Jimmy Owens died. When it looked like it might be developed, Donna Sasscer (manager of the county Department of Economic Development Agriculture and Seafood Division) got us involved with the Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust (PTLT).” Frank Allen, president of PTLT, noted, “The Owens and Sivak properties clearly aligned with PTLT goals of enhancing biodiversity and conserving agricultural and water resources.” The Trust and the Sivak family crafted an easement to meet the objectives of both parties. “We decided to keep development rights for three houses,” Alan commented. Beyond those lots, the land will remain in farm and forest. The family worked with St. Mary’s Soil Conservaion Office and the Forestry Service to continue practices that improve soil and water quality and enrich wildlife habitat.
Frank Allen described how the deal worked, “PTLT packages funds from local and state programs, which allowed us to buy the 148-acre Owens farm and sell the development rights, reducing the value of that site. Then we bought a conservation easement on the Sivak property.” In 2009, the Sivaks were able to purchase the now-affordable Owens site using proceeds from their easement sale.
A conservation easement is a legally binding agreement to protect land from changes that harm its conservation value, such as development. The owner gives up certain negotiated rights to make changes but they still control the property and can transfer or sell it. Easement restrictions convey with the property. The PTLT monitors the site for compliance with the easement agreements.
This deal doubled the size of the Sivak farm and insured this sensitive land will never be sub-divided or developed. The Owens site also gave the family frontage along Route 235, allowing the Sivak’s farm wagon to move well away from highway traffic. The family also sells at the Homegrown Farmers Market. Getting involved with the Land Trust was “well worth it,” added Alan. “Since we never plan on developing.”
Sivak Produce now grows and sells three seasons of fruit and vegetables. “We always try to stay ahead of the market,” noted Alan, “by looking through catalogs and getting ideas from customers. We’re experimenting with artichokes this year.” Mary Lou added “And people can’t get enough of purple sweet potatoes.”
Property owners interested in learning more about preserving their land should contact Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust Executive Director Andrew Garte 410-533-0042 or Andrew@patuxent-tidewater.org or Frank Allen, president 301-862-3421 or email@example.com. Anyone can support the PTLT mission by becoming a Friend. Visit [http://www.patuxent-tidewater.org](http://www.patuxent-tidewater.org) to learn more.
Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust is dedicated to the preservation of southern Maryland’s agricultural, forested and open space land in the five tidal counties of the Patuxent River watershed (Prince George’s, Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles and St Mary’s). PTLT’s mission is to sustain the region’s biodiversity and water resources through a network of protected landscapes; to advance the stewardship of forest and farm lands as vital local and regional economies; to preserve the region’s unique historic and scenic character for resident’s sense of place, visitor’s enjoyment, and prospective newcomer’s attraction; and to guide the pattern of future growth. To accomplish this mission PTLT acquires (by purchase or donation) land and conservation easements. Land trusts are committed to the protection of land in perpetuity. Every site and every situation is unique. The Trust works with landowners, communities and funders to address needs and circumstances of the present while also seeking to protect the interests of future generations.
Get your own LLBean, PTLT Polo Shirt with our new logo embroidered on it! It’s 100% cotton, in hunter green (more colors coming later). Fine quality LLBean fit, in men’s and women’s sizes. Only $30- for a classic shirt you will wear often. Contact me to order yours: firstname.lastname@example.org
Besides PTLT’s logo embroidered polo shirts, we now have weathered green cotton LLBean PTLT Baseball Caps for sale for only $20 each! Adjustable fit sizing. Send me an email for info to pick one up (or I can ship them): email@example.com Wear your support of your local Land Trust!Help spread the word by wearing a PTLT Polo Shirt; Show that you care about open space and our community
(Now also available: beautiful blue heather, 3/4 sleeve button polo women’s shirts with PTLT logo, only $36 each! Also, LLBean 100% cotton.)