Historic Summerseat Farm Preserved
January 24, 2012 — Summerseat Farm, a historic, publicly accessible 120-acre working farm at Three Notch Road and Loveville Road in Mechanicsville, has now been preserved forever by a conservation easement donated to Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust and Maryland Environmental Trust.
“Summerseat Farm is a local treasure with a rich history dating to 1678. It’s a beautiful, living example of the agricultural and natural heritage of southern Maryland. We’re delighted to be preserving it for future generations,quot; said John Loftus, President of Summerseat Farm, Inc., the nonprofit, all-volunteer organization that owns and maintains the property, and donated the easement.
With its gently rolling fields and dense woodlands that border well traveled roads, Summerseat Farm is a scenic landmark. It is also the only farm in the region where the public is invited to observe a herd of American Bison. The early 20th-century Queen Anne-style manor house, a formal garden, and various agricultural structures including a tobacco barn, smokehouse and dairy, contribute to its beauty and historic character.
Since 2001, when the nonprofit organization purchased the property, Summerseat Farm has been operated as an educational working farm raising corn and grains as well as wine grapes and livestock: not only bison but also sheep, goats, pigs and poultry. Trails wind through the 45 acres of woods that surround the 50 acres of farm fields. These woods provide habitat for forest-dwelling birds whose populations are declining throughout Maryland. The farm is adjacent to several other farms preserved through state and county easement programs, helping to develop a “green infrastructurequot; of protected lands.
“Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust is dedicated to preserving the rural landscape of southern Maryland,quot; Susan Charkes, Executive Director of PTLT said. “We’re thrilled to work with Summerseat and our partner land trust, Maryland Environmental Trust, to preserve this property where people can get a first-hand experience of what a real farm is all about, and at the same time experience the beauty of nature.quot;
PTLT, based in Leonardtown, has preserved almost 4000 acres of farmland and natural areas in St Mary’s County since 1998. “Land preservation is absolutely critical to protecting and improving the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay watershed,quot; noted Charkes.
A portion of Summerseat Farm is in the watershed of the McIntosh Run, which empties into Breton Bay in Leonardtown. The McIntosh Run area is one of the most beautiful and biologically diverse areas in Maryland, and contains many unique species and habitats. PTLT has partnered with Maryland Environmental Trust, the Department of Natural Resources and the US Fish & Wildlife Service to help expand the protection of land in the watershed.
Maryland Environmental Trust is a statewide land trust that partners with local land trusts to permanently protect privately owned property with conservation easements. MET was established in 1967 by the Maryland General Assembly and is governed by a citizen board of trustees. MET has protected over 128,000 acres of scenic open space, forest and farm land statewide. “MET is pleased to be a partner with PTLT to help make this project happen,quot; said Elizabeth Buxton, Director of MET.
Summerseat voluntarily donated the conservation easement to the two land trusts. A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a nonprofit land trust, not to develop the property. It is binding on all future owners.
By donating a conservation easement, a property owner may be eligible for federal, state and local tax benefits. The easement doesn’t restrict the owner’s ability to sell the land and doesn’t require public access. Summerseat, however, schedules regular opportunities throughout the year for the public to visit the farm.
The farm is operated entirely by volunteers. The nonprofit Summerseat organization is always looking for people who want to contribute their time and talents to this unique cultural institution.
Summerseat is also available for rental for events. The easement was carefully crafted to balance conservation goals with the organization’s need to generate the funds necessary to maintain the property.
“Every conservation easement we enter into is unique to the property, because every property is unique. PTLT’s mission is to preserve the past for the future, but we all live in the present. PTLT works hard to balance conservation goals and the goals of the landowner,quot; Charkes commented.
For more information about Summerseat please visit www.summerseat.org.
For more information about MET, please visit www.dnr.maryland.gov.