WINCHESTER, Tenn. — The 58-acre farm where Linda Mayes grew up near Winchester will be permanently preserved thanks to a conservation easement she signed with The Land Trust for Tennessee.
"She grew up on the property, and her family owned and operated a commercial poultry operation selling eggs and chickens and other commodities," Amy Frankel, spokesperson for The Land Trust for Tennessee, said via Zoom. "She lives in Tennessee part time. She leases about 40 to 42 acres to a local farmer who grows corn and baled hay. It's still being used as farmland, which is very important to The Land Trust for Tennessee."
The conservation easement protects the special scenic, agricultural and natural attributes of the farm, while still allowing Mayes to continue to own it, according to the trust's vice president, Emily Parish.
"We couldn't do what we do without landowners who want to protect their land for future generations," Parish said in an emailed statement. "We are honored that we could help Linda conserve her family land."
In October, Mayes partnered with The Land Trust for Tennessee, a statewide conservation organization, to permanently protect the property where she grew up, Frankel said.
"This land has been life-giving to my family, a place we have always found restorative and felt responsible for its care and well-being," Tennessee-native Mayes said in the statement. "It has nurtured us, and we want to give that back in return. Working with the Land Trust gives me the comfort that our land will be cared for and valued by generations to come, by people we will never meet, but we hope will be as restorative as we have been by this place."
One advantage of the conservation easement is that Mayes will continue to own and manage the land as she wishes, including leasing the back 42 acres to a local corn and bail hay farmer, Frankel said. Mayes is an alumna and adjunct professor of nearby the University of the South in Sewanee, as well as the head of the child psychiatry department at Yale University. She regularly welcomes Sewanee students to the property for their natural sciences research.
The Land Trust's role going forward is to ensure the conservation easement is permanently upheld no matter who owns the land in the future, which is key to achieving Mayes' goals, according to Frankel.
"We have a whole team dedicated to going to all landowners each year to make sure the easements are being upheld," Frankel said.
The property is within 10 miles of five other private properties protected by conservation easements, four of which are held by The Land Trust for Tennessee, totaling more than 1,000 nearby protected acres. The organization has conserved approximately 136,000 acres of land since its founding in 1999.