The need for a regional land conservation initiative began when Appalachian RC&D Council members working in Northeast Tennessee started to notice the accelerating disappearance of farmland in the area, and the desire for many residents to take action and protect their family landholdings before it was sold and developed. The Tennessee Chapter of the Nature Conservancy and the Southern Appalachian Highland Conservancy had been active in the region for many years, but had specific missions that focused on conservation of the high mountain areas and unique and imperiled ecosystems. There was no organization working to protect the family farm.
The program seeks to educate landowners and communities about their options for permanent farmland and open space conservation before irreversible changes occur. Our goal is to work with these communities to keep their lands in private ownership and on the tax rolls while preserving the rural character that makes this region special.