Sometimes farmers may think that by conserving your land, you can’t do anything with it,” remarked Arthur Hancock of Stone Farm. “That’s not the case. These conservation agreements are flexible and you can farm and change your farming practices. You can build related barns and farm buildings. I really don’t think this hampers farming at all. It protects farming.”
Since Arthur purchased his first farm in the 1970s, he has seen many of the neighboring farms change hands, some being sold off as smaller parcels. He could have done the same, and for a big profit, but he had other ideas. Stone Farm is the primary focus of the Hancocks’ daily lives and employs a number of other people, in addition to their family.
Arthur and his wife Staci, who live and work on the farm, and have raised their six children there, call this farm home. It is part of their history and they want to keep it safe for the future.
“My motto has always been: “If you take care of the land, the land will take care of you,” shared Arthur. So over the past five decades, the family has invested in the land. What started as a 100 acre farm, now totals over 2,200 acres.
The rolling fields, dotted with patches of woodlands and meandering creeks, are home to the Hancocks’ thoroughbred horses and beef cattle. The family also produces high quality hay, corn, and soybeans.
“Back in the ‘60s there were beautiful views in the country; pastureland, valleys, and hills. More and more, our countryside has become cluttered and I want to do my part to conserve this part of the countryside for future generations,” said Arthur.
“The kids and I have been talking about the possibility of conserving the farm for several years now,” reflected Staci. “We watched as our friends in neighboring counties got involved, and wanted to help to do the same to protect our area from high-density residential and commercial development.”
“Staci and I realized that if you don’t conserve your land, who will? It’s part of our family. Future generations will be able to live on the land and farm it in a way that makes sense to them,” Arthur said.
“And even if they want to sell it, the property will always be protected from development.” Conservation runs in the family… and the county Arthur and Staci’s family isn’t the only one in Bourbon County interested in making sure their farm stays a farm. Arthur’s siblings, Seth, Dell, and Clay Hancock, conserved their equine and cattle operation on Claiborne Farm, just a few miles down the road, in 2011.
Combined, the Hancocks have protected over 5,000 acres lying east of Paris and also joined hands with a number of other families in the county. Right now, there are more families partnering with Bluegrass Conservancy to protect their land here than in any other county.
“It is really exciting for us to see so many Bourbon County landowners stepping up to preserve our county’s agricultural heritage, and so personally satisfying to know that the land will be protected forever,” shared Staci.
“Staci and I realized that if you don’t conserve your land, who will? It’s part of our family. Future generations will be able to live on the land and farm it in a way that makes sense to them.”