Historic slave cabin and corn field at Camden Farm.
Photo by Chita Middleton/The Conservation Fund
The Pratt family has lived at Camden Farm for seven generations. Today, John Pratt and his family live in the historic home on the property, which dates to 1859. Much of the original house remains including furniture, draperies, carpeting, light fixtures and the still-operating floral china basins in each bedroom. Because of its excellent state of preservation, the home is designated a National Historic Landmark.
The Pratt family wants to preserve the land as a working farm, which it has been since the family settled on the land 300 years ago. They have a local farmer manage the growing and harvesting of crops such as corn, wheat and soybean.
Conservation Strategies Preserve Camden Farm
Back in 1941, the U.S. Army built Fort A.P. Hill just a short distance from Camden Farm. At nearly 76,000 acres, it is one of the largest military installations on the East Coast, and thousands of soldiers train here each year. Since then, residential development has threatened to encroach on Fort A.P. Hill. The Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) program creates a zone of open space around Fort A.P. Hill, thereby safeguarding the installation’s training mission.
We facilitated two land preservation agreements at the Camden National Historic Landmark in 2009, which at the time was the highest priority for the Army Compatible Use Buffer program partnership. In addition, the buffer preserves valuable wildlife habitat, protects sensitive natural, historic and cultural resources and enhances the quality of life in nearby communities.
One easement—granted to both Virginia Outdoors Foundation and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources—preserves 500 acres that contain the site of a 17th century American Indian community. This represents the country’s first example of the Department of Defense and a state historic preservation office working together to mitigate cultural impacts on a military installation through off-post resource conservation.
The second conservation easement allows the Pratt family to retain legal title to the land and the ability to maintain its current use, while limiting future land use and development options, something the Pratt family was very happy about: “It’s important to me to be a part of the natural, historical and cultural legacy we leave for future generations, and this partnership gives me the opportunity to do that,” said John Pratt, owner of Camden Farm.