County approves dev. rights sale for Indian Creek Farm

Montgomery County (Pa.) commissioners approved an agreement for the sale of development rights for Franconia Conference’s Indian Creek Farm last week, pending the results of a land survey.  The sale is based on an amount of $14,024.54 per acre on the preserved land.  The Conference expects to receive approximately $500,000 in total.

The farm, located off Indian Creek Road in Lower Salford Township, Montgomery County is home to Living Hope Farm. The farm operates based on a model of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), which is a “method of farming that emphasizes safe, locally grown food, supports a local economy, and allows persons to participate in deepening their connection to the land and to each other,” according to Living Hope’s website.  Living Hope Farm is a 501 c-3 non profit led by Jill Landes of Blooming Glen congregation.

The sale of development rights means that the owners of the farm give up their rights to sell the land for development—it will forever remain a working farm no matter who owns it.  The worth of the land is determined by a rating system that considers factors such as the access of the land to the road, soil quality, and suitability for building homes.  The county did an appraisal of the farm in August which evaluated the current value of the farm and the value of the farm if it were to be sold for a housing development.  The price given is based on a formula that includes subtracting the first number from the second.

The sale of development rights is a result of the recommendations included in Franconia Conference’s Vision and Financial Plan from 2007, which called for the proceeds of the sale to be used to pay off the mortgage of the Souderton (Pa.) Shopping Center on Route 113, a property the Conference has owned since 2001.  The recommendations also included a call for the farm to be used for ministry, leading to the establishment of Living Hope Farm in 2010.