Mary Ruth Rhodenbaugh, owner of Holly Farms in Brazoria County, scratched two big items off of her bucket list.
“As you get older, you realize it’s important to accomplish the things that create the legacy you want to leave behind,” Rhodenbaugh said.
In 2015, the 192-acre property was honored as a Family Land Heritage property, recognizing 100 plus years of continuous agricultural production. In May 2016, she granted a conservation easement to the Texas Agricultural Land Trust, protecting 188 acres of the historic family farm and its productivity in perpetuity from the fast-paced development that is occurring in the proximity of Houston.
“I don’t want it to be sold,” Rhodenbaugh, who was reared on the property and has never lived more than 10 miles away from her ancestral home, said. “I want my grandchildren to have the opportunity to farm the land and raise cattle just like their ancestors did. I want them to inherit it and develop the same feelings for it that I have. Roots are important.”
Holly Farms was founded in 1908 when her grandparents, William Brigance, of Honey Grove, Texas moved his bride from Wisconsin to the Texas Gulf Coast with the dream of establishing a dairy farm. They settled between the Brazos and San Bernard rivers. Evaluating the way the oaks and palmettos grew, William identified high ground on which to build their home, but the harsh realities of the Gulf Coast’s climate prompted the couple to switch their focus from dairy farming to cotton, corn and cattle. Today, Rhodenbaugh runs cattle and produces hay.