Last Saturday (June 16), the eighth annual Rappahannock Evening View was hosted by longtime Rappahannock County residents Martin and Cheri Woodard at their appropriately named Longview Farm.
“We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect evening to enjoy this beautiful property,” said Nathan Jenkins, executive director of the Rappahannock County Conservation Alliance (RCCA), sponsor and beneficiary of the annual fundraising evening, which organizers said this year brought in about $30,000 for the organization – most of which will help support the county’s Farmland Preservation Program. “We were so pleased Cheri and Martin were able to host this year. They have always been incredible supporters and it their property has amazing views of Old Rag Mountain, Pinnacle Peak, and Hazel Mountain.”
RCCA’s diverse membership, represented at the successful event, includes families who have been here for generations and newcomers who love what they found here and decided to stay. RCCA’s mission is to facilitate private land conservation through voluntary donations of development rights and purchases of development rights on working farms. The Woodards, who fell in love with and purchased the farm in 2005, placing it in scenic easement at a time when their grandson, Gabe, was just 5 years old – and it seemed only natural to try to protect the natural beauty for future generations.
On Saturday, volunteers bustled as guests arrived and made their way to the tent. RCCA President Jennifer Aldrich, Susanne Louisell and the other board members kept busy meeting and greeting guests while dinner, a country buffet by the Little Country Store, was complimented by hors d’ oeuvres, fresh salads and desserts by Dayn Smith. The evening concluded with the enchanting music of Dawn Landes. Generous donations were made through raffles of donated baskets, a week’s stay at a home in France and a pair of fabulous dinners at the Inn of Little Washington. This year’s special honorees, 2011 easement donors, were Levi Atkins Jr., Pat and Barry Johnston, and CWL Associates/Beau Dudley.
Through the FPP, RCCA’s donors (with matches from the state and substantial support from the Krebser Fund) have helped to preserve 686 acres of Rappahannock farmland since 2004; Jenkins said RCCA hopes to add a couple hundred acres to that sum by early 2013. Farmers interested in applying for the FPP funds should contact RCCA or County Administrator John McCarthy.
RCCA is an information resource for landowners considering a conservation easement donation, a guide for donors navigating the process, a connector for buying and selling tax credits and a potential source of funds for some of the administrative costs of the easement donation. At its 2011 annual meeting, RCCA announced a $20,000 donation for farmland preservation, funds that can be used by the Rappahannock FPP for farmland conservation easement grants.
FPP is a fund used to purchase development rights on prime farmland in Rappahannock County. It provides an upfront payment for farmers who may not otherwise be able to fully utilize other tax incentives for conservation. It is currently only funded by private donations (matched by state but no local taxes). The RCCA is the major contributor to the FPP. More than $100,000.00 in funds are currently available, Jenkins said, and the FPP is looking for interested in applying. Anyone who actively farms in Rappahannock may apply. If you would like to be notified when applications are being accepted, contact the RCCA office at email@example.com or 540-987-9118.
The evening also marked the stepping down of Executive Director Nathan Jenkins who will be moving on to work for Appalachian Voices in Charlottesville. Nathan and his wife will be living nearby in Etlan and will still be a part of this wonderful cause. For more information about how you can help RCCA please visit their website at http://www.rccava.org or call 540-987-9118.
– Robane Beroza
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