One of Mecklenburg County's oldest, continuously operating farms will be preserved under an agreement announced this week by the Catawba Lands Conservancy.
The conservancy has reached an agreement to preserve 27 acres of the Bradford Farm in north Mecklenburg County. The land off Route 73 and east of Huntersville has been farmed by six generations of the same family since 1760.
"This is a historic farm in a still-rural part of Mecklenburg County," said Bart Landess, the conservancy's executive director. "It is now part of a 750-acre nature preserve called the Ramah Creek Conservation Area. And the Bradfords and several of their neighbors have all gone together to keep that rural part of the county rural."
Owners Grier and Kim Bradford have donated a conservation easement on land that surrounds -- but does not include -- the historic Bradford Store. The easement means they still own the land, but agree not to develop it, in perpetuity.
"It reduces the value of the land and they can take a tax deduction for that reduction in value," Landess said.
The 27 acres includes the county's last remaining gravel road -- McAuley Road -- as well as a hay field and wooded area.
The Bradfords also own the popular Bradford Store, which they currently lease to McLeod Organics.
Buffer Against Development
The broader Ramah Creek Conservation Area has been assembled by the conservancy over the past 20 years. It includes old family farms and other land on both sides of N.C. 73.
The preserve is home to at least two native species considered at risk -- the timber rattlesnake and a fish called the Carolina darter.
"It's an opportunity for animals and plants to grow and prosper and move around in ways that they often can't if there's intervening developments that get in the way," Landess said.
The preserve is surrounded by encroaching development from Cabarrus County, Huntersville and Davidson. Landess said the Bradford property adds to the buffer.
"It really expands what is probably the most significant conserved property in Mecklenburg County," he said.
Catawba Lands Conservancy map of the Ramah Creek Conservation Area, http://catawbalands.org
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