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Preserve Farms and Farming

Even though development pressure has slowed down, McHenry County farms are still at risk. 

Working farms are an essential part of McHenry County’s rural landscape. In addition to providing fresh food to local and regional markets, farms provide wildlife habitat, buffer important bodies of water, and contribute to the overall scenic and rural character that defines our community. Protecting farms not only safeguards our natural resources and prime agricultural soils, it also helps support our local economy by maintaining a viable agricultural base.

With the average age of a farmer now at about 58 years old, many farmers are retiring, in many cases with no one in the family to take up the family business. Within the next 20 years, it is estimated that 46,000 acres of farmland will be lost. The good news is that there is a growing interest in local food, coupled by a new movement of young people who want to be farmers. The need to preserve the county’s prime farmland soils is critical to everyone’s future.

There are three ways that TLC works to preserve farms and farming in McHenry County: Agricultural Conservation Easements, Learning Circles for Women Farmowners, and a Farmer-Landowner Match program. Keep reading to learn more!

What is an Agricultural Conservation Easement?

One of the tools that The Land Conservancy (TLC) uses to protect farms is a voluntary conservation agreement known as an easement. This type of an easement permanently limits non-agricultural development while allowing the owner to continue living on or leasing their land, expanding their farm business, and transferring the farm to a new generation. These easements can be donated, purchased, or a combination of the two. In each scenario the financial benefits to the landowner can be substantial.

For more details on how a conservation easement works, click here. If you are interested in preserving your farm with an agricultural easement, contact Linda Balek at [email protected] or call 815/337-9502.

TLC’s Farm Program – 2022 Year in Review 

See the 2022 highlights of TLC’s farm programs. 

Other Ways TLC Helps Preserve Farmland

Learning Circles – Women farmland owners

Women own nearly half of the farmland in McHenry County. In many cases, they inherited it from their fathers, husbands or brothers. Additionally, many women farmowners were not involved in the business side of farming until they inherited the land. The idea behind the Learning Circles is to provide a crucial link between women farmland owners and the resources they need to achieve their conservation goals by holding women-only meetings at which they can fee free to raise questions, share challenges and get information on a wide range of resources available to them. TLC plans to hold a workshop each year to provide women farm owners access to specialists and information that will help them be good stewards of their land.

Farmlink logo

Find land to farm or find a farmer to farm your land. Click here for additional information.

Preserving the Family Farm Oct. 20

Do you think about the future of your farm and what will happen to it after you no longer own it? This free seminar is for farmland owners who would like to know more about how they can preserve their land as farmland forever.

Learn more

Supporting local farms and education for Food Shed Co-op

The Land Conservancy is a proud partner and supporter of Food Shed Co-op, an organization working to open a community-owned grocery store in McHenry County. As a non-profit entity, TLC can accept donations to support education efforts of Food Shed.

Click the PayPal button below to make a donation!

Farmer Landowner Match Program

26 June 2023
The Land Conservancy offers a program called the Farmer Landowner Match Program. It is a way to connect farmers who are looking for land with landowners who …

Farming with Nature: The New Graziers

11 January 2021
McHenry County is seeing a rise in the number of grass fed beef and dairy operations. There are a number of farms throughout the county where pastured…

Women Caring for the Land Learning Circles

24 February 2015
Are you a woman farmland owner who leases your land to a tenant farmer? Did you inherit the land from a male relative? Maybe you were never involved in the b…