|By CELESTE BAUMGARTNER
CAMDEN, Ohio — The Three Valley Conservation Trust’s (TVCT) annual open house, tour and picnic will be Sunday, Oct. 1, 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sugar Valley Farm, owned by Frank and Marcia House, will be on the tour.
The 180-acre farm was the first property acquired by the TVCT, which now holds more than 5200 acres, over 41 easements, plus the Helen S. Ruder Preserve, which was donated to the trust.
On the TVCT tour, visitors can take an old-fashioned hayride tour of the 180 acres. The farm has a large pond with geese and swans, beautiful gardens, timber, a swamp, prairie and pastures. Paint Creek runs through it and there are tall limestone cliffs with lots of fossils.
Cattle, sheep and the guard llama graze the pastures. The Houses also have turkey and chickens and two horses, which, Marcia said, “have to do nothing but be horses.”
Marcia lived on the farm when she was growing up. Frank lived on a nearby dairy farm. After they married they lived in Cincinnati and France. When her parents were no longer able to care for the property, the couple moved back. They farm the land, raise hormone and antibiotic-free freezer beef and lambs, and operate a bed and breakfast. Marcia talked about the reasons for putting their land in the trust.
“We moved back here in 1983 and there were only about two stoplights from here to Cincinnati,” she said. “Now there are probably 20 or 30 between. Just this little section of road from Camden to our place, just a little more than a mile, there has been about 10 new houses built.
“It seemed awful, what was happening at a tremendous rate,” she said. “We’ve lived in cities and cities are okay but land is important, too.
“When we first opened the bed and breakfast, there was a couple from Colorado that stayed here,” Marcia said. “They had just put there land into a trust. They described it and it sounded like the perfect thing.”
The Houses investigated but at that time there were no trusts in the area. They learned about the TVCT shortly after it was formed (the TVCT was formed as the Four Mile Valley Trust, an Ohio nonprofit, in 1994).
“What we liked is that you can do it any way you want because everybody has a different kind of vision for their property,” Marcia said.
“You can make it exactly what you want it to be and not have to worry about anything happening.”
Sugar Valley Farm is at 7611 Sugar Valley Drive, Camden, Ohio.
On the day of the tour guests can also visit the Beck Farm, the TVCT headquarters. It’s at 5920 Morning Sun Road, Oxford. Burgers, hot dogs and veggies will be served. Guests can enjoy music, hike, talk with easement donors. There is no admission charge but donations are welcome.
The TVCT works to conserve the natural environment and cultural heritage in Four Mile-Seven Mile, Indian and Twin Creek valleys throughout Butler, Preble, parts of Darke and Montgomery counties.
For more information call the trust at 513-524-2150 or visit www.3vct.org
This farm news was published in the Sept. 27, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.