Betty Phelps-Refior: Ensuring the Protection of Her Farmland
When Indiana native Betty Phelps-Refior died last spring at the age of 97, she left behind a long legacy of activism and care for the land.
Betty was a charter member of American Farmland Trust, joining in 1981 shortly after the organization started. In 1998, she contacted American Farmland Trust about options for protecting her 79-acre farm in Clay Township, Indiana.
Not wanting to sell her farm to a developer, Betty worked with American Farmland Trust’s Farm Legacy Program to establish a charitable gift annuity. She transferred the property to American Farmland Trust in exchange for a contract establishing a fixed annuity for life.
“I certainly wasn’t interested in this ancestral farm becoming a community of houses,” Betty said at the time. “I’m very pleased with the idea of a dependable source of income, and the farm will belong to somebody who will take care of it.”
American Farmland Trust protected the property with an agricultural conservation easement, which prevents future development, and sold it to a farmer, who now grows crops on it. The project was one of the first cases of an easement being used to protect farmland in Indiana.