Farm Park Preservation Association (FPPA) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3)
corporation dedicated to the preservation, protection and promotion of the
Norristown Farm Park (NFP) in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
The 690-acre Park is located in the
townships of East Norriton, West Norriton and the Borough of Norristown. It
features two branches of Stony Creek, a trout nursery, a working farm, over
seven miles of paved multiuse trails as well as several unpaved nature
trails, pavilions for picnicking, concerts and shows, and historical
structures, some of which date back to the 18th century including
a 1764 Springhouse. A wide range of passive recreational activities are
available: walking, hiking, jogging, running, biking, roller skating,
skateboarding, dog walking (on leash), fishing (stocked trout stream),
birding and other wildlife viewing, nature photography and picnicking.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania owns NFP
and leases it to Montgomery County, which operates it as a public, multiuse,
passive recreational park. This arrangement is unique in Pennsylvania. A
NFP Advisory Committee serves in the capacity of reviewer/advisor to the
Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural
Resources, the Director of the Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks and the
Director of the Montgomery County Department of Parks. This Committee is
responsible for reviewing and advising on organizational issues such as
by-laws and meeting schedules; on budgets for maintenance and development;
on design, development, and alterations of the adopted master plan, and on
the use of the facilities including the farmland lease and coordination with
municipal programs. The Advisory Committee is comprised of a member each
from East Norriton, West Norriton and Norristown; elected officials (state
representatives and state senator) from the legislative districts in which
the Park is located, a member from the Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks
and a member from the Montgomery County Department of Parks.
The FPPA began in the fall
of 2000 when a possible alternative use for the Park was made public: a
proposal to convert NFP into two PGA golf courses, which are classified as
limited use open space. We were a group of citizens concerned with the
prospects of losing free access to the Park’s 690 acres of passive
recreational open space and displacement of the wildlife now residing in the
Park. We organized a petition drive, collected approximately 4,000
signatures in favor of retaining the Park and were successful in defeating
the golf course proposal. When the prospect of losing the Park became less
threatening, we decided to broaden the purpose of the group to the
preservation, protection and promotion of the Park. We incorporated on
December 15, 2000 and became a tax-exempt charitable organization with
501(c)(3) status on February 15, 2001; all contributions to the FPPA are
100% tax deductible. We are entirely a volunteer organization; we have no
paid staff. All contributions benefit NFP. We continue to maintain our
vigilance against any use not in compliance with the Master Plan of this
highly visible and extremely valuable property.
Motto is Preserve, Protect, and Promote.
We will work to preserve the Park in its present state
as a passive multiuse recreational facility containing an operating farm.
This goal will include the preservation of the many historical structures
present within the Park boundaries. Maintaining the diversity of the Park’s
wildlife and preserving wildlife habitat is also a primary goal.
We will remain vigilant against any threats of
development not in keeping with the Master Plan published by the Montgomery
County Planning Commission in 1992.
We will organize and conduct events to promote public
awareness of the Park and the unique opportunities for recreational pursuits
it offers. We will maintain communication with various government agencies
– state, county and local – to keep them informed of the importance of the
Park and its contribution to the community.
The founders of the FPPA in 2000 were
Karen Burton; John Shaffer; Tina Howell; Mike Howell; Ben Hynes; Jessica
Dimuzio, V.M.D.; Tim Halverson, Ph.D.; Bonnie Van Ormer, and Harry Kern.
Some of the founders presently serve on the Board of Directors. By January
2009, the FPPA membership had increased to approximately 300 memberships.
The actual number of people belonging to the FPPA is much greater since many
of these memberships are family memberships. Several organizations also
belong to the FPPA.
A Board of Directors, consisting of 9-25
members, governs the FPPA. The current Board Members are:
Tina Howell, President
Diana Cassel, Ph.D., Vice President
Edward Schindler, Ph.D., Treasurer
President of the Stony Creek Anglers
the Board: Concetta Migliarese and Douglas Seiler
Activities and Accomplishments
The FPPA Board of Directors meets monthly to conduct
the business of the organization.
Representatives of the FPPA Board of Directors
attend the quarterly meetings of the NFP Advisory Committee. The FPPA
reports regularly to the Committee at these meetings.
Since 2002, the FPPA has been a member of Partners
for Land Preservation, a Montgomery County group of 30 (mostly) non-profit
organizations dedicated to preserving land, ensuring healthy habitats and
waterways and providing opportunities for people to interact with their
environment. Montgomery County Lands Trust founded Partners for Land
Preservation in 1997 to improve communication and coordination among the
nonprofit groups dedicated to natural resource protection.
The FPPA holds annual Members and Friends Meetings
featuring topics of interest to the community such as deer management,
which is of great importance to Montgomery County Parks as well as to
Valley Forge National Park; proposed NFP Master Plan Revisions; and global
warming and land conservation.
The FPPA publishes The Park Enthusiast, a
quarterly newsletter for members that reports on activities of the FPPA
and of NFP, that reports on matters of special importance to the members
such as Master Plan revisions, and that runs articles on the flora and
fauna of the Park.
The FPPA runs the Bluebird Trail Project, a national
research and conservation effort. By building birdhouses, setting up
trails and monitoring the houses from April to August, volunteers
participate in a real hands-on research project in the Park. Results are
sent to the National Bluebird Society.
The FPPA runs the Adopt a Tree Program to ensure
healthy trees in the Park. This involves weeding, mulching and watering
trees by volunteers. Previously our volunteers helped plant 1500 trees
and 800 shrubs.
The FPPA holds Nature Walks in the Park led by our
own knowledgeable members.
The FPPA has established a winter bird-feeding
program in the Park by building and maintaining platform bird feeders and
stocking them with bird feed.
The FPPA is very active in a project in conjunction
with NFP to preserve the Springhouse, a unique 18th century structure in
the Park on Lower Farm Road. We have obtained a grant from the Acadia
Foundation that will be used to stabilize the Springhouse until
rehabilitation can begin.
The FPPA has hosted several Nature Art and Craft
Shows in conjunction with NFP. These shows gave local crafters and
photographers an opportunity to show and sell their wares. There were
also activities for children such as scarecrow making, birdhouse building
and nature quizzes.
The FPPA hosts the Out-of-Nowhere Running Club’s
Annual NFP Runs. The 2008 Run benefitted the Mission Kids Child Advocacy
Center of Montgomery County, whose headquarters will occupy an old
farmhouse in the Park.
FPPA volunteers helped Ken Shellenberger, Park
Supervisor, establish a Monarch Butterfly Station in the Park.
The FPPA is a financial sponsor of the Stony Creek
Anglers Annual Trout Tournament, which takes place in the Park. FPPA
volunteers also help with the race and with parking.
The FPPA achieved its goal to have the Dairy Barn
dedicated to the late State Senator Edwin G. Holl, who was instrumental in
establishing our unique working farm park.
FPPA volunteers are available to help the NFP with
maintenance projects such as the “party” we held to apply a sealer coat on