Driving down the lane of Marie Holscher’s farm is like traveling back 100 years. Tall, elegant trees line both sides of the straight dirt road that ends in a peaceful glen of open lawns, a creek and even a pond with a Canada goose. In the center of it all is Holscher’s white farmhouse with its two front doors.
Other than her occasional coming and going, nothing much happens on her 42 acres of serenity in the middle of Clermont County east of Cincinnati. She intends to keep it that way. In fact, Holscher, who is nearly 90, has gone out of her way to make sure. After watching her neighbor’s farm become a subdivision of modest, vinyl-sided houses, she has turned down offers from developers even knowing the value of the property her son and daughter will inherit will be significantly less than if she sold.
“My heart sank when I thought someone will bulldoze this farm and put up a subdivision,” she says. “I thought, ‘No way.’ I felt strongly that my husband loved it the few years he was here, and the children loved it, and I just couldn’t see it changed.”
So last year, with her son’s help, she donated her land’s easement rights to the Ohio Department of Agriculture—the first donation in Clermont County. By accepting the easements, the state preserves the land for agricultural purposes forever. A sign in the driveway declares it Ohio Preserved Farmland.
Holscher, a retired teacher and widow who earned her master’s degree in education in 1976, can sell her land or give it away, but “it can’t be turned into a subdivision or a commercial strip mall,” she says.
Then Holscher turned to her house, which her son recently succeeded in getting onto the National Register of Historic Places. The 175-year-old house was originally a one-room brick cabin. That room is now her dining room, and its fireplace—still fitted with the original hooks to hold cooking pots—is a conversation piece. People may pass on, but some things were meant to last forever.