Colcom Foundation Grant Helps Preserve 96-Acre Family Farm

A grant from Colcom Foundation has enabled The Westmoreland Land Trust to purchase a 96-acre farm with the purpose of turning it into a nature and art park, fulfilling the desire of its owner to preserve it so that others could enjoy it as much as she did.

The farm was formerly owned by Roberta N. Schwarz, who passed away in 2004. Roberta and her husband Carl had no children. 

According to Elaine Bohatch, a spokeswoman for the foundation, Roberta walked the farm every day until she could no longer do so. Sadly, Roberta passed away in 2004, leaving behind her beloved farm. However, she made sure that her wishes were known before her passing. She wanted the farm and house to be preserved so that others could enjoy them just as she had. 

With the help of funding from Colcom Foundation and Allegheny Foundation, The Westmoreland Land Trust purchased the farm from the Roberta N. Schwarz Charitable Foundation.

The foundation, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to conserving and protecting the natural, scenic, and historic resources of Westmoreland County, has big plans for the farm. They aim to turn it into a nature and art park that will be open to the public, making Roberta’s dream a reality. The park will be known as the Carl A. Schwarz Memorial Park in honor of Roberta’s husband.

However, the foundation is also seeking suggestions for a shorter, one- or two-word alternative name that reflects the property’s natural assets or Westmoreland County heritage. 

The Carl A. Schwarz Memorial Park is poised to be a significant project for the Westmoreland Land Trust. It will provide a unique opportunity for visitors to enjoy art and nature in one setting while promoting the organization’s conservation efforts. The project will also contribute to the region’s economic development by attracting more tourists to the area.

The foundation hopes that the Carl A. Schwarz Memorial Park will serve as a lasting tribute to Roberta and Carl’s love for their land and their desire to share its beauty with others. 

Situated at a high elevation, providing expansive views of the surrounding area, the proposed park is located along Beech Hills Road, off Old Route 6, just three miles away from downtown Greensburg. A small fraction of the property is wooded, but much of it is covered with meadows that can support pollinators or crops such as sweet corn. The farm is crossed by tributaries to Brush Creek in the Turtle Creek Watershed. The trust will continue to lease the fields for farming until it is ready to move forward with conservation efforts, which is the primary objective of Colcom Foundation’s contribution to the project. 

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The land trust is planning to hire a consultant to assist in developing a conservation plan for the property. They are also actively seeking input from nearby communities and individuals who have an interest in the project.

According to Andrew Mack, a conservation biologist and land trust board member from the Ligonier area, with that much land, the property can be managed to have significant and sustainable populations of native biodiversity. The trust hopes to encourage a considerable population of bluebirds, tree swallows, and other attractive and iconic birds in rural Pennsylvania.

Colcom Foundation is a leading philanthropic organization offering financial support to land trusts and non-profit organizations committed to preserving open spaces and conserving high-priority properties. One of the ways they do this is by providing financial aid to land trusts and non-profit organizations that are working to preserve open space and protect natural resources.

Through its grant program, the foundation offers financial support to organizations focused on conservation. This funding can be used for a variety of purposes, including land acquisition, habitat restoration, and education and outreach programs.

In addition to grants, Colcom Foundation also provides short-term loans via the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy Revolving Fund for Local Land Trusts to organizations needing immediate funding for their conservation projects. These loans can help bridge the gap between grant cycles or provide organizations with the funds to move forward with their conservation efforts. The foundation takes a strategic approach to its funding, focusing on high-priority conservation areas and working with organizations with a proven success track record. They also seek to leverage their funding by encouraging collaboration between organizations and promoting innovative approaches to conservation.

Thanks in great part to Colcom Foundation’s support, the Westmoreland Land Trust was able to acquire the expansive and beautiful Schwarz property to preserve its natural beauty and contribution to our ecological health for future generations. 

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