Delaware Wild Lands purchases 635 acres in southern New Castle County, a success made possible by a broad group of supporters
Passmore Farm creates 10,600 contiguous acres of protected land
ODESSA, Del. – Delaware Wild Lands (DWL) is pleased to announce their acquisition of the Passmore Farm along Route 9 at Taylors Bridge in southern New Castle County. Representing some of Delaware’s best natural beauty and cultural history, these 635 acres include a mix of healthy saltmarsh, upland forest, freshwater springs, and productive cropland. The property is adjacent to the 1,250-acre Roberts Farm that DWL acquired in 2015 in partnership with Mt. Cuba Center and The Conservation Fund.
Over the last year, a broad collection of individual donors, community organizations, and private foundations enthusiastically responded with contributions to help protect the Passmore Farm.
In particular, Delaware Wild Lands gratefully acknowledges the leadership of Mt. Cuba Center, Longwood Foundation, Ellice and Rosa McDonald Foundation, Crestlea Foundation, and Welfare Foundation. Other funders that advanced the cause include Fair Play Foundation, Marmot Foundation, Shrieking Meadow Foundation, Starrett Foundation, and Wildwood Foundation.
Donations from community partners such as Delmarva Ornithological Society’s annual Bird-A-Thon, GreenWatch Institute, and many individual donors were pivotal in DWL’s efforts to meet a challenge grant from Mt. Cuba Center and raise sufficient funds to close on this important acquisition.
For more than 50 years, DWL has been strategically protecting land in and around Taylors Bridge. Purchase of the Passmore Farm adds the newest piece in a larger conservation puzzle of contiguous wildlife habitat in one of the most rapidly developing areas of the state. The opportunity to expand such an important legacy of conservation and protect more of Delaware’s iconic resources was one of the most compelling reasons so many people were inspired to contribute to this project.
More than 20 organizations, agencies, and initiatives identified the Passmore Farm as a high priority for conservation. Now that it is protected, the farm forms a block of more than 10,600 contiguous acres: 5,500 acres owned by the State of Delaware (the Cedar Swamp Wildlife Area) and 5,100 acres owned by DWL.
“Our management of the Passmore property will include long-term habitat, forest, and wetlands restoration projects, increased opportunities for visitation and participation in citizen science programs, and maintaining traditional uses of the land including agriculture,” said Kate Hackett, DWL Executive Director. “These initiatives will strengthen the conservation science being done in Delaware and expand our partnerships with volunteers, community members, and organizations such as the University of Delaware, Delmarva Ornithological Society, Ducks Unlimited, Scout troops, and Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife.”
The farm with its stately farmhouse so prominently visible from Route 9 was purchased by the Passmore family in 1963. Wills and Joanne Passmore both came from a long line of dairy farmers. Wills’ father's farm on Concord Pike, known as Lynthwaite Farm, near where the Concord Mall is now located, was famous for their homemade ice cream. When the couple and their three small children decided to leave north Wilmington for a more farm-friendly area, they loved the mixed ecology of what would become the Passmore Farm, with its upland forests, grassy meadows, and tidal marshlands.
Susan Passmore grew up on the farm. “My mother was a contemporary of Aldo Leopold at the University of Wisconsin, and she was exposed to a lot of emerging thinking about ecology as a student there in the 1940s,” said Susan. “Leopold’s famous book, A Sand County Almanac, was almost like a bible to her.”
Under DWL’s ownership, the property is now protected from additional residential development, removal of old growth forest, and large-scale agricultural and poultry production.
Judy Passmore, another daughter, continued, “Selling our family farm to Delaware Wild Lands gives us peace of mind,” said Judy. “We especially like knowing that agriculture has a role in the work of DWL but that the wildlife and the natural environment will be conserved as well.”