Preserved Riverbend Farm owned and operated by Janet Bachmann and Jim Lukens is well known for growing organic fruits and vegetables supplying local food, as well as flowers, sold at area farmer’s markets. The 128-acre property is situated along the banks of the West Fork of the White River in Washington County, one of our area’s priority protection zones because of the role it plays in our watershed to ensure clean drinking water.
“We started working with Janet and Jim in 2014 when they originally placed 31 acres in a conservation easement,” said Pam Nelson, Land Protection Coordinator at the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust. “It was really important to them to customize their conservation easement to their needs, ensuring agriculture can continue on the property to support the local food system, while also protecting other important features including water quality and wildlife habitat.”
In 2019, the couple sought to protect another 97 acres of Riverbend Farm that included forested hillside, shale barren habitat, riparian forest, riverine wetlands, prime farmland soils, and pasture adding it to the conservation easement.
It also included 4,000 feet of stream bank that was restored by the Watershed Conservation Resource Center (WCRC). Restoration and protection of this portion of the property is part of a regional partnership between National Resource Conservation Service, WCRC, Beaver Water District, Beaver Watershed Alliance, Walton Family Foundation and Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Together, their aim is to improve water quality in Beaver Lake, our region’s drinking water supply through best management practices, including land protection.
“It is so rewarding when we can help landowners achieve their goals, while leveraging the strengths and programs of diverse regional partners to create multiple community benefits such as supporting local food and clean water,” said Nelson.
NWALT is currently working with several farmland owners to permanently protect their properties with conservation easements. Other farmland owners are considering joining NWALT’s free NWA Farm-Link program, which aims to keep working lands in working hands. This program helps underserved farm seekers, and farmland owners, access the land, tools and resources necessary to achieve their dreams and preserve our local farmland.
If you want more information about these programs or have general questions, please call the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust at 479-966-4666.