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A mother’s wish to protect 126 acres of agricultural and forestland is honored
February 6, 2024, 1:03 p.m.

Land conservation group now protects over 750 acres of land in Knox County

KNOX COUNTY – Malissa Turney has taken a big step in honoring her mother's wishes for their family land. Turney recently signed a conservation easement with The Land Trust for Tennessee to protect her family's 126-acre property in Knox County for generations to come. The property consists of prime agricultural soil and forestland in the rapidly developing Knoxville metropolitan area.

malissa turney land trust
Malissa Turney and The Land Trust for Tennessee Conservation Project Manager, Gaston Farmer

"My mother had a strong connection to the farm," said Turney. "She was protective of it and was adamant that it not be sold, particularly for development. One of the last things she said to me was, 'Keep the farm.'"

The property was acquired by Malissa’s ancestor, Orange Warwick, in 1823 and has remained in the family’s possession since. The property was once part of a larger parcel of land but has gone through some changes over the years. The Boston Graves Cemetery, which pre-dates the 20th century and contains headstones dating back to the Revolutionary War, adjoins the property’s southwestern boundary, and is accessible to the public.

Turney's family has owned this land for generations, which was why it was so important to her mother to keep it in the family.

"Four generations of Warwicks were born on the property, including my mother, Diane Warwick Deck," said Turney. "I was born while my parents were living with and caring for my grandmother on the property. Five generations of Warwicks raised cattle and horses and other livestock. They grew and made most of their food."

The history of the protected property offers a glimpse into the agricultural roots of the area around Knox County.

To achieve the family’s goal of protecting their land, Malissa Turney and The Land Trust for Tennessee closed on a legal agreement called a conservation easement to limit future development of the land. The agreement protects the agricultural and scenic attributes of the property, while also allowing Turney to continue to own, manage, and sell or pass the property to heirs in the future. Turney plans to continue using the property for residential purposes as well as leasing the property for cattle grazing and baling hay.

"Malissa Turney has a deep passion for and connection to her land, and we applaud her action of permanent protection." said Emily Parish, Vice President at The Land Trust for Tennessee. "It's a privilege to work with Malissa to conserve her family's land and history, forever."

The Land Trust’s role going forward is to ensure that the conservation easement is permanently upheld no matter who owns the land in the future, which is key to achieving Turney's conservation goals.

"From the time I was a child, I thought about how the farm might be protected," Turney said. "I am very grateful that the farm will be protected with a conservation easement with The Land Trust for Tennessee. It feels so right."

The Land Trust for Tennessee is a non-profit conservation organization working statewide to protect land important to the people of Tennessee. From family farms and historic landscapes to public parks and forests, the work of The Land Trust has a lasting impact on people and places from Memphis to Mountain City. The organization has conserved approximately 136,000 acres of land since its founding in 1999, and is recognized for meeting the highest standards for excellence and conservation permanence. Learn more at

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