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Winfield Family Creates Historic Food Production Conservation Easement

Posted: Thursday, November 30th, 2017 at 6:28 am
Author: KCII News - Sam McIntosh

John Wittrig with his daughter Laura and long-time friend Tom Wahl on his 130-acre farmland. Photo courtesy of SILT.

A Winfield family has made Iowa history in farmland conservation.

The Wittrig family and the Sustainable Iowa Land Trust (SILT) have created the state’s first agricultural conservation easement permanently protecting 130 acres of their farm, located northwest of Winfield, for sustainable food production. John Wittrig grew up on this family farm, which is used for timber production and is enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). With this easement, Wittrig is glad to know the 130 acres will continue to be used for sustainable agriculture, no matter who owns it in the future, “This offers a sort of attractive third option to keep the land from further eroding, and being used and abused to the point that it continues to lose topsoil at a high rate rather than a sustainable way of farming. And that’s what SILT means, a sustainable way to continue to operate like we did in the ‘30s and ‘40s, when I was a kid.”

SILT will monitor and enforce the easement in the years ahead and the Wittrigs will continue to own the land and can sell it when they choose, as long as the land remains in sustainable food production. SILT President Suzan Erem says easements make land more affordable for farmers who want to grow healthy food. The Wittrig farm will not be available until CRP ends in about 15 years, when it is expected to be much more valuable for its affordability. The Wittrigs are proponents of organic food production, as they also own J & B’s Chestnuts, a 4.5-acre farm in Winfield that grows and sells chestnuts without use of chemicals.