STRASBURG, Pa. -- The road to Emma Krantz's farm is paved with profit -- or its potential.
Billboards blitz U.S. 30 and other highways through her corner of eastern Lancaster County. Legions of tourists come to play, shop, and spend money on the Amish rip-offs that are everywhere -- the Amish Farm, the Amish Barn, Amish Country Crafts, Amish Lanterns Motel, Amish Village and Amish Tours.
The real Amish considered the movie "Witness" a rip-off, too, with its scenes of nudity and passion filmed on what was supposed to be an Amish farm. But now, that farm -- which belongs to Ms. Krantz, a Mennonite -- is being used to preserve the agricultural heritage so critical to the Amish way of life.
The Lancaster County Agricultural Preserve Board and the Lancaster Farmland Trust, both dedicated to preserving the county's disappearing farmland, have acquired a conservation easement to Ms. Krantz's Willow Spring Farm. That means that a covenant permanently attached to the deed will forever restrict the land to agriculture.
That means no condos in the cornfields. No "Witness" boutiques in the barn.
"My husband and I always had the feeling that we paid for this land, but it's not really ours," said Ms. Krantz, whose husband, Paul, a township supervisor, died last year at 59 during heart-transplant surgery. "This was all created by God. It's all his. We're just here for a short time to use it."
Others would pay dearly for that privilege.
In the 10 years since "Witness" was filmed on her farm, Ms. Krantz has been besieged with offers to sell. Realtors and speculators regularly inch down the ribbony lane that slices through her cornfields -- as police hunting Harrison Ford did in the movie -- to knock on her door and announce: "Name your price. I have people just dying to build a house on the Witness farm."
But the offer to save, not sell, was the only one that appealed to Ms. Krantz, a 58-year-old Ephrata native with sturdy hands, a stocky frame and a slight Pennsylvania Dutch accent. "There was never a point when I was tempted," she said. "How could I be?"
The 82-acre farm has been in the Krantz family since 1874. Mostly, it has been a dairy farm, but the family has grown hay, corn and rye, as well. Concord grapevines planted by Paul Krantz's grandmother a century ago still produce a bounty of fruit.
"My husband grew up on this farm," Ms. Krantz said. "His dad was born in this house. Our kids grew up here. My whole married life -- 36 years -- was spent here. Name my price? There is no price."
There is a price for the easement, however -- $147,634, split between the two land-preservation organizations: the "ag board," which is government-funded, and the farmland trust, which is private.
That represents the difference between what the farm would be worth on the market today -- about $611,000 -- versus what it is worth restricted to farming -- $464,000. The money goes to Ms. Krantz.
The agriculture board is contributing $105,000 toward the cost of the easement; the trust hopes to raise the remaining $42,634 by Dec. 21.
About $26,000 of that has been generated already through the sale of farmland preserve "deeds," which cost a tax-deductible $25 per share. Mr. Ford, who played Philadelphia detective John Book in the movie, bought 40 shares worth $1,000.
Kelly McGillis, who played Amish widow Rachel Lapp, with whom Mr. Ford had his famous on-screen love affair, is helping to raise money, too. She will autograph 100 prints of a painting of the farm -- called "Emma's View" by artist J. Wayne Bystrom -- that are for sale for $240 each. Unsigned prints cost $100.
A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the farmland trust.
"Witness" notwithstanding, "Emma's View" from the front porch is like something out of a movie. Built in the early 1800s, the white farmhouse with green shutters is flanked by a huge barn and a summer kitchen, both used extensively in the movie. It's surrounded by farms and fields, a setting so tranquil and pretty, Ms. Krantz said, that "you can sit here on this porch and really not hear the rest of the world."
If Ms. Krantz has no interest in cashing it all in, the rest of the world might jump at the chance. Despite the best of intentions and efforts, the loss of farmland in the county continues.
In 1980, according to the agriculture board, Lancaster County had 5,200 farms covering 420,000 acres. By 1988, that had slipped to 4,850 farms on 400,000 acres. Today, there are 4,700 farms on 390,000 acres.
Ms. Krantz wants to keep Strasburg Township, where she lives, the way it is now -- 80 percent farmland. By showcasing her property, she hopes other farmers will sign up with the trust.