The Land Trust for Tennessee: A Living Laboratory Preserving Tennessee’s Historic Landscapes

The mission of The Land Trust for Tennessee is to conserve the unique character of Tennessee’s natural and historic landscapes and sites for future generations. Over a span of 20 years, they’ve helped conserve over 135,000 acres in 70 counties across the state, working in partnership with landowners and communities to protect land important to the people of Tennessee. From family farms and wildlife habitats, to public parks and forests, the work of The Land Trust has a lasting impact on people and places.

Today, their headquarters, a 64-acre historic area called Glen Leven Farm, exists as a kind of rural oasis, just 4 miles from downtown Nashville. Funding from The Frist Foundation enabled them to transform a hundreds-year old, 9,000-square-foot house on this land into a “hidden gem” that attracts people from across the state to learn about what it means to preserve Tennessee’s natural and historic landscapes and sites.

Says President and CEO Liz McLaurin, “People love this place. And what’s happened is, it’s become a living laboratory for our work. When we moved our offices here, we could have people come here and touch and feel our work. And it’s private, so it feels like a lot of the farms and forests we protect, and it has all of those elements, but it makes explaining our mission that much easier.”

Indeed, Glen Leven Farm is a shining example of The Land Trust’s work – proof that it walks the walk when it comes to its vision of protecting Tennessee’s irreplaceable landscapes in perpetuity. Visitors to the working farm can find it is not just an office for The Land Trust’s Middle Tennessee staff, but an education garden, honeybee sanctuary, arboretum with more than 25 species of trees, and grazing grounds for two miniature donkeys.

Pulling inspiration from Glen Leven Farm, Tennessee landowners come to understand the power of conservation easements to conserve their own pieces of Tennessee for the good of all. While limiting development, conservation easements allow landowners to continue to own and enjoy their farms and forests, sell or pass down the land, all with the peace of mind that The Land Trust will ensure that the landowner’s wishes will be upheld in perpetuity.

In the future, The Land Trust for Tennessee plans to continue preserving land across Middle Tennessee and has developed a roadmap that will enable the farm to expand outreach and to be a model for land conservation and cultural preservation not just within the state, but across the Southeast.