Stewards of Barn Bass Sanctuary


natural habitat

Growing up in small New England towns, Anita Edelberg was a “country girl” ‘til she met David Orlow and moved to Brooklyn, where they undertook the project of restoring a broken-down city house in Park Slope.

Yet they dreamed of getting back to the country, buying a few acres of land. In 1985 they saw an ad for a farm in Northeastern PA and came up to look. “We walked the perimeter looking for what might be the ‘downside,’ and we didn’t see anything but just beauty, raw beauty,” says Anita. “We fell in love with it.” An attractive property of 98-acres, set high in the rolling hills of Wayne County, with dense woodlands, open meadows, and a stream running through it, it was much more land than they’d expected to buy.

However, when they found out that the owners were planning to subdivide it into 22 building lots, they acted decisively. “Like the Brooklyn house, we rescued it from a fate that was less than satisfactory,” Anita says.

From the outset, Anita knew this was something to be preserved. “There was not really a feeling of ownership. It was a feeling of responsibility to protect and preserve what’s here, and to make it better in any way we possibly could.” David improved the existing pond, so it could be enjoyed for swimming and fishing. They renovated the barn and a small garage they used as a weekend residence. Together they planted an orchard of fruit trees, fenced it in, and painstakingly tended it.

During the twenty years that Anita and her husband David spent weekends on their farm, “Always there was the idea that this was just too precious a place to allow an unforeseen future,” says Anita. “We are just caretakers…we’re just here for a very short time.” And, in fact, David’s time ended in 2006. After his passing, Anita moved to her country home year-round and decided the time had come to take steps to protect her land.

Anita had been aware of the Delaware Highlands Conservancy from its inception, read its newsletters, and kept its phone number nearby. “I always thought it was a noble organization [doing] a very important activity.” In late 2008 Anita Orlow’s “merging” with the Conservancy, as she calls it, finally came to be. She protected her 98-acres with a conservation easement that prevents it from every being subdivided or developed, except for allowing an additional dwelling to be built near the barn and garage and limited small farming activities to be enjoyed. By protecting her property, Anita has fulfilled her promise to herself to be a steward of the land. The dream she envisioned when they purchased the farm in 1986 is now fulfilled. “I’m very comfortable with that completion,” says Anita. “It feels good to me.”

By Barbara Lewis