The Horn Farm Center is a conservation success story. Born out of the effort to save the farm from industrial development in 2000, the Horn Farm Center for Agricultural Education was established as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation in 2004. The Horn Farm was saved by a community of passionate people, who understood that our natural spaces and cultural practices of stewarding and cultivating the land are sacred and need to be preserved.
20 years later that same sense of responsibility for the wellbeing of our community and natural environment has endured. In fact, it has grown exponentially as we have cultivated a deeper connection with this place. In 2016, two milestones were reached. First, a conservation easement was placed on the 186-acre property thus preserving the farm in perpetuity. Second, the term of the lease between the county and the Horn Farm Center was extended to 99 years.
With the farm protected and the stability of the organization ensured, the Horn Farm Center’s leadership and Board of Directors began to clarify their focus, zeroing in on regenerative agriculture. Seeking to go beyond “do no harm” or simply sustainable, we set our sights on a new approach that truly expresses our community’s desire to steward and care for the land. In 2018, we developed a land use management plan and strategic plan, which encouraged our farmers to employ only organic and regenerative farming practices on the 186 acres of the Horn Farm Center. This transition was completed in the 2020 season but our work continues as we explore new ways to restore the land and nurture our community.
The Horn Farm Center is part of the watershed that feeds the Susquehanna River, one of the three oldest rivers in the world. Our work as land stewards not only affects the ecosystem that the Horn Farm exists within, but also impacts the health of the river, and the Chesapeake Bay. In the past two years, we have been experimenting with best practices for water management on the farm. In the beginning of this year, we began the work of transitioning several acres of farmland into multi-functional riparian buffer landscapes. This work is supported by the Pennsylvania Natural Resources and Conservation Service and the Keystone 10 Million Trees initiative. By planting over 17,000 trees on the Horn Farm by 2022, our goal is to produce food and agroforestry products while protecting the health of our waterways, from the Kreutz Creek, to the Susquehanna and beyond.
At the Horn Farm Center for Agricultural Education, we are committed to finding ways for humans to feed themselves while also working in partnership with nature. Through innovation, hard work, and a balance of give and take, we are redefining what we know to be the best practices in farming. By restoring ecosystems, cultivating healthy soil, producing abundant yields, protecting our watershed and teaching others to do the same, the Horn Farm Center is redefining agriculture and growing a community of land stewards.