In partnership with Orange County’s Lands Legacy Program, the NC Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund (ADFP), and City of Raleigh’s Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative (UNCWI), the Association closed on a “working lands” conservation easement on a Century Farm in Cedar Grove. The Captain John S. Pope Farm is owned by Robert and Gail Pope, and is located on Efland-Cedar Grove Road. A spring-fed tributary flows through the farm and merges with the East Fork Eno River less than 2,000 feet downstream from the property. The East Fork Eno River flows directly into Lake Orange, a drinking water supply reservoir for the town of Hillsborough. The farm, currently in organic tobacco production, has remained in continuous operation by the Pope family since at least 1870 and retains the 1874 acreage as well as its historic arrangement of fields and forest. Most of the buildings on the farm date back to the late 19th and mid-20th century. The Pope Farm is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is designated by Orange County as a Local Historic Landmark.
In addition to protecting the prime agricultural land on the property, the easement will have significant water quality benefits. The farmland is located within the Upper Eno protected watershed and has approximately 2,000 feet of stream frontage. As part of the project, Mr. and Mrs. Pope are protecting a forested buffer along the farm ponds and a tributary traversing the property, providing direct benefits to the quality of the water in this stream and the East Fork Eno River.