The area south of O’Fallon to the east end of Belleville is known as the Shiloh Valley. This area of St. Clair County, IL, has a rich history of agriculture. Native American tribes – such as the Tamaroa and Shawnee – lived in, hunted, and farmed the Shiloh Valley. Among the prairie and woodlands, the Tamaroas cultivated corn, potatoes, and peas and hunted deer and turkeys.

In the early 1800s, immigrants, primarily from Germany and the southeastern part of the United States, established many of the farms in the Shiloh Valley that still exist today. The former prairie ground was considered among the best soils around for crops. German immigrants brought techniques from Europe with them, such as using manure for fertilizer and rotating crops.

As land is passed down from generation to generation, it sometimes becomes sold for other uses. In the Shiloh Valley, many of the historic farms have now become subdivisions, shopping centers, and even a military base. By 2010, when Pat Fahey became the owner of his 160-acre Shiloh Valley farm, he wanted to make sure it would stay a farm forever.

With an eye toward the future, Pat added a gift of an agricultural conservation easement to his will. When he passed away in 2019, HeartLands Conservancy worked with Pat’s estate to place the farm under permanent protection. The new owner continues to farm the land and has replaced and built several farm buildings as was originally allowed in the agreement.

Today – and forever – the 160-acres in the Shiloh Valley is a working farm, all thanks to the foresight and generosity of Pat.

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Quick Facts about Agricultural Conservation Easements

  • Agricultural conservation easements are agreements between a landowner and a land trust that permanently conserve the land as farmland or open space.
  • The land can continue to be farmed, grazed, hunted on, managed, and enjoyed by the landowner. Depending on the terms of the easement, farm-related structures can be built or replaced.
  • Landowners can sell, lease, borrow against, bequeath, and manage their land.
  • The land trust monitors the land annually to ensure the agreement is upheld.
  • Donated easements are considered charitable donations and may qualify for federal income tax deductions.