Land Conservancy preserves its first farm in Wayne County

Lemoine “Lee” Peart said when she and her family began looking to buy a farm the 1980s, they identified 10 qualities that would constitute the ideal property.  Most of the farms fell short in several areas.  Then Peart visited a former sheep farm in Wayne County, about two miles south of Burbank.

“This farm hit everything on our list,” she said.  “Not only did it have what we were looking for in a farm, it had wonderful natural areas.  To this day, people marvel at what a beautiful place it is.”

The family purchased the property in 1989 and founded Canaan Creek Organic Farm, a 98-acre tract that produces organic hay, organic barley seed and organic spelt and has pastures for grass-fed beef cattle.  The property, at the corner of Sterling and Parmenter roads, includes an 1890-built farmhouse that sits a quarter-mile from the road as well as three barns, two silos and two grain bins.

Canaan Creek Organic Farm has now been permanently protected by a conservation easement donated by Peart to Western Reserve Land Conservancy, the state’s largest land trust. It is the first farm in Wayne County to be preserved by the Land Conservancy; the voluntary, donated conservation easement essentially means the farm will never be developed.

“Lee is to be commended for her decision to preserve her amazing property,” said Bill Jordan, the Land Conservancy’s Medina associate field director.   “At an important juncture in the easement donation process, Lee broke her collarbone, but her commitment to preserving her farm never wavered.”

Peart, a college biology major and former science teacher in the Brooklyn City School District, has had a lifelong passion for nature.  After leaving teaching to raise her family, she returned to work for the Ohio State University’s Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster and then at the Wayne County Schools Career Center.

Peart said “development pressure” nearby prompted her to consider placing a conservation easement on the property.  But she said the decision to permanently preserve the farm was made with full support from her sons, Luke Peart of Quebec and Nathan Wright of Chicago, who will eventually take over the farm.

“I don’t want to see it developed, and my kids don’t want it developed,” she said.  “I am honored that this is the first Land Conservancy farm protected in Wayne County.  I’m proud to be part of it.”

The Land Conservancy preserves farms, natural areas and coastal land throughout northern and eastern Ohio and does urban revitalization work statewide.  To date, the Land Conservancy has preserved 558 properties totaling 41,954 acres and has led efforts to form new county land banks, of which there are now 22 in the state.

In 2014, the Land Conservancy, which is based in Moreland Hills and has field offices in Cleveland, Akron, Medina, Orrville, Oberlin and Chardon, permanently protected 42 properties totaling 3,786 acres.