Montgomery County preserves family farm near Blue Route

Beccah Hendrickson Image
Tuesday, October 1, 2019
Montgomery County preserves family farm near Blue Route
Montgomery County preserves family farm near Blue Route. Beccah Hendrickson has more on Action News at 6 p.m. on October 1, 2019.

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Farmer Gary Mckeown knows what it means to put in a long day's work. He has 63 years' experience taking care of Maple Acres Farm.

"Day one," he said. "I think I was born out in the third row somewhere."

The farm is nestled behind Plymouth Meeting Mall, just a quick turn off of the Blue Route. Despite development all around him, his market has become a bit of a community staple on Narcissa Road in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania.

"It's important to have it here," said Jerry Charlton of Springfield Township. "We eat from places like this."

While there's a steady flow of customers, however, the cash flow isn't quite as steady.

"I just don't know the answer. I have a fantastic business, but just the money it costs to keep this place, it's tough," said Mckeown.

He's not the only farmer in financial trouble. Farms across the country are going bankrupt at a record rate, but Montgomery County is on a mission to preserve ten thousand acres of farmland. On Tuesday, it made preserving Maple Acres official.

Additionally, the state, county, and township each gave Mckeown a grant for his farm, totaling around a million dollars.

"This money will allow Gary to stay in business," said township commissioner Karen Bramblett. "Gary could not operate his farm without this infusion of money."

It may seem like a large sum, but Mckeown is hoping it'll be enough to dig him out of a hole.

"If I can pay off my debts, I hope on the plus side," he said.