Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Woman's Gift Means Farm Will Endure

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Woman's Gift Means Farm Will Endure

Article excerpt

Soon, Minna Waldmann will look out her kitchen window and see strangers gazing at her meadow or disappearing into the woods behind her house.

She lives on 2 acres of a 55-acre farm in Chesterfield that will become the state-owned August A. Beckemeier Conservation Area on Monday.

Beckemeier, a German immigrant, was Waldmann's father. He died in 1957, but not before suburbia began creeping up on the property he had bought in 1903. He feared that encroachment and stressed to his daughter that he didn't want the hard-earned farm and the modest house to fall victim to it. Pointing with her stout cane to a subdivision of expensive homes to the east of her property, Waldmann, 85, talked of her father's wishes. "He'd say, `Oh my God, are they going to work my hill down?' " "Working his hill down" meant leveling the gentle rise behind the house and farm buildings to make room for subdivision houses and manicured lawns. She promised she wouldn't let that happen, and she is keeping her promise. Peter H. Raven, director of the Missouri Botanical Garden, said gifts such as Waldmann's farm offer a wonderful opportunity for biodiversity preservation in the area. "It's just as important here as it is globally, and we can benefit directly," said Raven, who will attend the dedication of the land at 2 p.m. Monday near Waldmann's lifelong home at 14415 Olive Boulevard. "Although St. Louis and the county have wonderful parks, we've never tackled - systematically - the preservation of natural areas in our regions. We've lost a lot of opportunities to do that," he said. Springtime Picture Waldmann's land rises gently to its crest in a woods of mature trees, now in pale-green leaf. The trees descend to the St. Louis and Southwestern Railroad tracks in an oak-hickory forest, where purple phlox and May apples and bloodroot welcome spring on the sun-dappled floor. Toward the eastern end of the property, a gentle stream from two underground springs has cut a gorge in the rocky cliff. …

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