Seven Generation Family Farm Protected
Mark and Rebecca Ewing have ensured protection of their land, the sixth-oldest family farm in Indiana, with a conservation easement with Sycamore Land Trust. The 500-acre Mont Clair Farm has been actively farmed by the Ewing family for seven generations—since roughly 1802.
Indiana continues to lose prime farmland as cities expand. Mark and Rebecca explain how they didn't want to see land that their ancestors had resided and worked on for over 200 years lost to development.
"When our great, great, great grandfather built the Ewing residence on the farm at the start of the 1800s, it was far from the town of Vincennes, Indiana. Today, a high-quality residential subdivision abuts the farm and valuable commercial real estate is being developed less than a quarter of a mile away... Our ancestors bore numerous hardships to keep Mont Clair Farm together for this length of time. We all decided a conservation easement with Sycamore Land Trust was the right thing to do."
Corn, wheat, livestock, fruits, and wool have been the farm’s major products, though crops are now mainly corn and soybeans. Native American artifacts have been found on the property, and one of the original farmstead buildings may soon be enrolled in the historic registry.
Mont Clair Farm is a stellar example of conservation farming practices, exemplifying sound principles for managing water, soil, and wildlife habitat. Its 400 tillable acres are enrolled in Tier 3—the highest tier—of the Conservation Security Program, administered by NRCS, a division of the USDA. Waterways are naturalized with warm season grasses, water diversions, and filter strips, minimizing erosion and maximizing water quality in the watershed that feeds Kelso Creek. Wildlife on the property includes white-tailed deer, wild turkey, coyote, fox, various owls, hawks, and herons.
Several woodlots grow on the property, which SLT’s conservation easement guarantees will only be harvested according to best management practices. The property includes a 100-year old maple grove, which produced maple sugar for sale, as well as old walnut, pecan, and persimmon groves. The Ewings have also planted over 15,000 black walnut, black cherry, white oak, and yellow poplar trees.
The conservation easement held by SLT protects the Mont Clair Farm from residential development, while allowing it to remain in the Ewing family and continue its history of responsible agricultural production. The city of Vincennes has annexed most of the land west of the farm and is redeveloping the area with residential and commercial buildings and roads.
Photos courtesy of the Ewing Family