Arial view of Cherrywood in Hanover County

Cherry Family Protects Agriculturally Significant Land from Future Development

Hanover County, VA – For many generations the Cherry family, and the Taylor family before them, actively farmed and managed timber on land they own in Hanover County known as “Cherrywood.” It’s been an integral part of their lives. The Cherry family’s act to protect approximately 130 acres under a conservation easement with the Capital Region Land Conservancy (“CRLC”) symbolizes the family’s dedication to the community they love and marks a distinct legacy of caring for the land.

Long shadows loom over green grassy fields in the foreground of tree line on Cherrywood property in Hanover County

When asked about the family’s decision to protect their property in perpetuity, Caroline Cherry, remarked, “We have witnessed so many family farms being turned into housing developments where you can barely get a lawn mower between them. Not to mention the development we’ve seen around Ashland. My husband, Charlie Facchina, and I have been researching conservation easements for a long period of time, so this is not a spur of the moment decision. I finally said, we must do this now. We’re committed to preserving our timberland, our agriculture, and our opportunity to share the wildlife with future generations.”

Located off Taylor Road and Coatesville Road in the Beaverdam District, “Cherrywood” consists of agricultural fields, wooded land, and wetlands. Restrictions placed on the property by the easement conform to the Envision Hanover Comprehensive Plan adopted in 2023, which highlights the importance of preserving the rural character, its agricultural heritage, and natural resources. The property is designated a Rural Conservation Area on the County’s Growth Management Plan map.

Sunlight glints off narrow stream running through woods of Cherrywood in Hanover County

“Cherrywood” is significant in both ecologic and economic terms. Specifically, the property features approximately 35 acres of freshwater wetlands, as defined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wetlands Inventory. It fronts along half a mile of the Newfound River, a tributary of the South Anna River, where vegetated buffers positively contribute to the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed. In addition, 60 acres of the property are identified as having “High Ecological Integrity” by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s (“DCR”)Virginia Natural Landscape Assessment model. Such designation is shared with the larger landscape that includes parts of another adjacent farm protected under a conservation easement with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation.

Arial view of Cherrywood property in Hanover County, Virginia

Economically, the easement helps sustain the state’s top economic industry – agriculture. The U.S. Census of Agriculture notes that 26.5% of farmland in Hanover County was converted between 1982 and 2017, with the most current data due to be released February 13, 2024 and likely to show further declines. “Cherrywood” is close to the average farm size in the county yet it contains approximately 90 acres “Prime Farmland” or “Soils of Statewide Importance” according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service. DCR’s ConserveVirginia 3.0 confirms this high-quality farmland by ranking portions of the property in the Top 10% of farmland to be protected across the Commonwealth.

A tree line in the distance of a vast green field on the Cherrywood property in Hanover CountyThe threats the Cherry family have borne witness to and have now mitigated are real. According to DCR’s Virginia ConservationVision Development Vulnerability Model, the agricultural fields and road frontage of “Cherrywood” had a 26% – 50% likelihood of being developed with five years. The easement thus also provides for the continued scenic enjoyment of the passerby public traveling on Coatesville Road and the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail (also known as U.C. Bicycle Route 76), which was the first bicycle touring route to cross the United States.

Farmgate and fence run alongside wooded area of Cherrywood in Hanover County, VirginiaCelebrating the Cherry Family’s decision to protect their family’s land from future development, CRLC Executive Director, Parker C. Agelasto, noted, “It was a pleasure to work with Caroline and Charlie on protecting their family’s land while involving their son Jerome Facchina in the decision-making process and succession planning as to how “Cherrywood” will serve future generations of the family and help preserve the rural character of this portion of Hanover County.”