Another 136 acres of high-quality working farmland has been permanently reserved for agricultural production (see map here). On August 3, in conjunction with the Town of Windsor, Madison-based Groundswell finalized an agricultural conservation easement on an eastern Dane County farm under a joint program to purchase development rights from conservation-minded farmers. The agreement brings to 31 the number of area farms Groundswell protects in this way, a total of more than 4,500 acres.
The Town created the purchase of development rights program, or PDR, in 2006 with the assistance of Groundswell. The program is part of Windsor’s response to the press of residential and other non-agricultural development on what is some of the nation’s most productive farmland. The Town mapped 11,000 of its acres for continued agricultural use. This area is designated by the state as a Wisconsin Agricultural Enterprise Area. The Town adopted the PDR program to permanently protect farms through individual agreements like the one just enacted. Groundswell and the Town take joint responsibility for monitoring the agricultural easement annually.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCAP) Working Lands Initiative Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements (PACE) program and Groundswell members helped fund the easement purchase.