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 Garde (410-533-0042 or [Andrew@patuxent-tidewater.org](mailto:Andrew@patuxent-tidewater.org)) or Frank Allen, president (301-862-3421 or [firstname.lastname@example.org](mailto: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.
Friends of PTLT enjoyed the Second Annual Cruise, to Tangiers Island!
Friends of PTLT had another wonderful excursion to visit Tangier Island aboard the North Star, with Captain Butch Cornelius. We ate fresh seafood for lunch on the Island. Then we had a chance to walk, rent a bicycle, or golf cart, and tour the Island on our own. There were shops to visit, a nice local museum, two ice cream shops, and a lovely beach to walk at the end of the Island. We are already making plans for next years’ trip. Please join us!
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.)