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Zollinger easement allows River Heights land to be a farm forever

October 26th, 2009 Posted in Opinion

By Catherine Meidell

RIVER HEIGHTS–Zollinger’s Fruit Farm has been an establishment in Cache Valley for around a century, and a treasured landmark county residents want to see remain a piece of the community. It is the fourth Cache Valley farm to be granted money from the Trust for Public Land, which has allowed a portion of the lot to become preserved farmland.

Ron Zollinger, current owner, said now that the easement has been completed, someone from the state agriculture department visits once a year to see that the farm is in compliance with the preservation easement requirements. If it isn’t, they can enforce a change so the requirements are met. The department looks to see that no homes are being developed on the land and that hard surface area is minimal.

“I am only allowed a small percentage of land to have impervious surfaces. If I had paved my driveway more, I might not be in compliance,” Zollinger said.

With the preservation easement goes a requirement to preserve wildlife in the area. Zollinger said the largest problem on his land is the deer that pester his crops. Though they may damage his crops, the deer must be able to roam freely through his land. He said this requirement forces him to build fences around his crops for protection.

“I really have to keep my fences in good shape and high enough so I can protect the crops that I do have,” Zollinger said. However, the easement does not require more work than he needed to execute in the past, he said.

Providence city and other entities, including the Trust for Public Land, helped raise approximately $1.5 million in funds toward establishing the Zollinger farm as a preserved area through a conservation easement. Visitors and residents alike will be able to indulge themselves with the Zollinger’s sweet blend of homemade apple cider. The farm also sells a wide variety of apples, pumpkins and fruit trees.

Because population in Cache Valley increased by 30 percent between 1990 and 2000, according to the TPL Web site, there was fear that farmland would begin to diminish causing wide open spaces to become sparse. The site states the cost of farming has increased, which diminishes the likelihood of more farm establishments going up, which is why it is important that farms like the Zollinger Fruit Farm are supported and maintained.

“This easement is in perpetuity, so 200 years from now there should be the same type of business here,” Zollinger said.

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