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Preservation of a Country Farm

Author: Carrie S. Czar
Date: August 2006
Program: Master of Science in Interior Architecture, Chatham University

Pennsylvania is one of the most well known states for agriculture. Since World War II, agriculture has become less attractive as an occupation. Unfortunately, because of the increasing costs of labor and equipment, it is a struggle for small active farms to even be profitable. Today's farmers are forced to financially justify their existence with rapid city growth and property price inflation. Farmers are in a difficult position - their land is worth more if they sell it to a suburban developer than if it is kept as an active farm. However, communities are realizing that destroying farmlands lead to sprawl and urbanization. This manuscript studies the history and preservation from the effects of urban sprawl, of one family-owned farm, the Bernd farm, located in Fombell, Pennsylvania.

Contemporary life has had a significant impact on rural areas such as Fombell. Urban sprawl, the unplanned and uncontrolled spreading of urban development into areas adjoining the edge of a city, has obliterated many family-owned farms. Many areas south of Fombell have suffered the impact of urban sprawl. Such impacts include housing divisions which are large tracts of land consisting entirely of newly-built residences. These housing plans are often called towns, villages, or neighborhoods which is very misleading since these terms denote places which are not exclusively residential. Housing sub-divisions create a negative impact by reducing farmland for residential property creating problems such as traffic issues and higher taxes. As a result of more population, residential growth compounds with the construction of shopping centers and fast food restaurants. Often these buildings conform to the companies' particular image, which can appear out of place in a rural area and often become aesthetically unpleasing. Inevitably, all of these impacts force wildlife out of their natural surroundings to survive in an environment not fit for them, a result when sprawl interrupts the natural habitat. Fombell, Pennsylvania is located thirty miles north of downtown Pittsburgh.

Although Fombell has not yet fallen victim to the urban sprawl that has taken place in other regions nearby, it is still very much at risk. Most of the farms in Fombell have been passed down from generation to generation over the past one hundred years. The farms in Fombell have gone through many different natural disasters, unavoidable catastrophes, and sudden looses. Whether the catastrophes are floods, fires, or family deaths, the farmers always unite together and lend a helping hand any day, any time, and any hour.

This legacy of rural life in Fombell needs to be preserved or it will be destroyed by urban sprawl. By documenting the restoration process and outlining the findings of the single building research study of one farmstead property in Fombell, Pennsylvania, awareness will be given to the general public and communities that are endangered of rural extinction by urban sprawl.