Natural Lands has signed a conservation easement to preserve what’s known as the Great Oak Farm in North Coventry Township, Chester County, and along with it a historic 400-year-old white oak tree.
The easement guarantees the 10-acre parcel won’t be developed.
“When we purchased the Great Oak Farm in 2018, my husband and I knew we had come across something very special, so when we were approached with the idea of a conservation easement, we jumped at the opportunity,” Jessica Neff-Boyd said in a news release by Natural Lands, a nonprofit conservation organization based in Media, Delaware County.
“After buying the property, we learned about the connections of this land to the Lenape Native American tribe, how the original deed was held by the Penn family, and all about the oak tree,” Neff-Boyd said.
Natural Lands said the oak was identified as one of 100 surviving “Penn’s trees,” meaning those that were alive when William Penn arrived in America 1682. It is the only such tree in the township.
The easement outlines three zones of protection — highest, standard, and minimal. The tree would be within the most protected zone.
Another plus for the property: It connects along St. Peters Road with the 688-acre Coventry Woods Preserve, which is owned by North Coventry.
The Great Oak Farm includes tributaries of Pigeon Creek, designated as a high-quality stream by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
“Every successful conservation project starts with property owners that make a choice to preserve their land,” said Natural Lands president Oliver Bass.
“On behalf of North Coventry Township, I am very grateful to Sean and Jessica Boyd and their extended family for the conservation of this iconic property,” said Chris Washburn, chairperson of the township’s Open Space Review Board.
Chester County Commissioners Marian Moskowitz, Josh Maxwell, and Michelle Kichline said in a joint statement: that “Great Oak Farm is exactly the type of property that our Northern Conservation Initiative was designed to support.”
Chester County and North Coventry gave grants totaling $150,000 to the Boyds in return for the easement, according to the agreement filed with the township.