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Pennsylvania Ag News Headlines
340-Year-Old Bucks County Farm Faces Uncertain Future
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 05/25/2023

Duane “Buster” Doan Jr., who worked one of the country’s oldest farms in Bucks County for most of his 87 years, died under a harvest moon in September 2016.

His daughter, Donna Doan, works tirelessly to assure the sun does not set on agriculture at the 234-acre Lower Makefield Township-owned property purchased as open space from Tom and Alice Patterson for $7.2 million in 1998.

She has her concerns.

A year after the township acquired the farm — where Buster Doan had lived since childhood, and where he farmed with the Pattersons for almost 50 years after they bought the property — a Bucks County municipal open space easement was granted on 71 acres.

In 2004, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation condemned a little more than 7 ½ acres of the farm to build a highway off-ramp. And, in 2016, township supervisors voted to grant the county an agricultural conservation easement over more land, bringing the total to 183 acres of preserved open space/farmland.

Sam Stewart of Charlann Farms grows grain and vegetables on 173 of the acres, and the township leases one of the historic outbuildings to the nonprofit Artists of Yardley cooperative.

Doan has expressed concern that over its tenure of ownership, the township failed to maintain the property, which contains the historical Janney-Brown Farmstead, including a Georgian-style stone house, stone/frame cottage, bank barn and six outbuildings. The farm also includes the 5.6-acre Satterthwaite Farmstead containing a Federal-style frame house, bank barn and four outbuildings.

The township admits it doesn’t have the funds to maintain, let alone restore, all of the buildings.

In March, following input from an ad hoc committee made up of stakeholders, it hired a Norristown architectural firm for $114,000 to draw up a master plan to recommend which buildings to preserve, which ones to possibly raze, and how those that remain can generate revenue to maintain the property. The township had earlier authorized up to $300,000 to develop the master plan and to remediate lead contamination on one of the structures and surrounding soil.


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