A Day on the Porter Farm
The other day I helped monitor land conserved by the Philander Chase Conservancy (PCC). Land conservation easement deeds often have fixed limitations on how land may be used and properties need to be monitored to ensure the easement is being faithfully followed. My work with the PCC afforded me the opportunity to explore the property and reflect on the importance of conservation.
The Porter Farm is a bucolic property, which embodies the essence of traditional Ohio farms. Its nineteenth century farmhouse is painted a crisp white, matching the barn and other outbuildings. We rode through the 100-acre property in a gator, an all-terrain vehicle. The sun was high in the clear sky, keeping the air from becoming too brisk as we traversed the wooded areas and pastures on the various paths that crisscross the property. We came across a sleepy opossum, trundling through the brush, and later found ourselves in the path of a few white-tailed deer, who quickly bounded out of sight with their tails twitching nervously.
The view of the valley, from the hilltop at the center of the property, proffered a symphony of fall colors that required a moment of repose. Vibrant maple trees collided with the imposing orange of the oaks in a practiced dance of winter preparation.
As we neared the end of our tour, we peeked into the main barn that had a familiar scent of dried hay and dust. It was a museum of times past. Old farm equipment lay scattered about the building, slowly rusting away. The animal stalls stood nobly silent. And a vintage Mercedes Benz idled in the breezeway; the black paint just visible through the veneer of dust and dirt and its tires slowly burrowing into the dirt floor. A once regal machine reduced to the wares of time and nature. And yet the old car was beautiful in its decayed state — its former prowess only on hiatus, hoping for eventual restoration.
That old Mercedes embodies an aspect of land conservation that is at times hidden to the passive observer. Conservation not only preserves the natural beauty of the land, but also protects relics and stories of a community from destruction. That Mercedes asks the observer to seek answers and stories. In exploring our past, we can better understand our community and the values on which it should stand.