Christiano’s Protect 732 acres in Leicester!
Three local landowners protected 732 acres of highly productive farmland with Genesee Valley Conservancy through conservation easement agreements this week.
Gerald Christiano Sr, Gerald Christiano Jr, and Seven Nation Stakes (a family partnership) conveyed three conservation easements on farmland to the Conservancy to conserve highly productive farmland and ensure it remains available for future generations of farmers.
The Christiano Farm began in the early 1920’s by Anthony and Mary Christiano who emigrated from Italy in 1894. Four generations later, this family farm continues to produce. The 732 acres that are part of this project have 92% USDA prime soils, some of the most productive soils in the State.
The farm’s most unique feature is perhaps its alfalfa operation. Alfalfa grown on the farmland is dried up the road at the alfalfa drying mill. When running, this facility produces a distinct aroma in the region. This dried alfalfa is pelletized and then sold as a high quality protein additive for animal feed. The farm produces high yields of alfalfa from its land, well above the regional and State averages.
Commodity crops are grown in rotation to provide for maximum alfalfa yields and diversity to the operation. Current crops grown on the farm include alfalfa, peas, snap beans, corn, and soybeans.
Saving Rural Character
The farmland in this project is highly visible to the public and plays a major role in the aesthetics of the region. When travel between Geneseo and Leicester, nearly 2.9 miles of road frontage is protected as part of this project, providing expansive views out across the Genesee Valley and the agricultural lands of the farm.
Additionally, the farm has a third of a mile directly adjacent to the Genesee Valley Greenway State Park, a public access trail system that provides excellent recreational space for the public while giving views out across private working farms.
The lands of this project are adjacent to 3 miles of the Genesee River and .8 miles of Beards Creek. The conservation agreements include special riparian requirements along these two corridors for fully vegetative buffers. These buffers will help stabilize the banks of these waterways, filter runoff from the farmland so that nutrients and soils stay on the farm and do not flow into the Genesee River on its way to Lake Ontario, and provide corridors for wildlife.
Regional Conservation Impact
This conservation project is adjacent to 9 existing conservation areas including the Genesee Valley Greenway State Park and Boyd Parker Memorial Park. The other conservation areas are private lands protected by conservation easements with Genesee Valley Conservancy.
How It Happened
In 2016, the Christiano’s attended the Livingston County farmland protection workshop. This program, a partnership between Genesee Valley Conservancy and the Livingston County Agricultural & Farmland Protection Board, educates farmers on conservation easement options, screens interested farmers to ensure their properties meet the stringent State requirements, and ranks farms according to their productivity and importance as agricultural assets for the region. The Christiano’s invited the Seven Nation Stakes group, whose land they have rented for over 65 years to join them in their application.
The top few farms from this process are selected to apply to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets farmland protection program which purchases conservation easements on high quality farmland. Farms approved by the State receive 87.5% of the value of the easement, transaction costs are covered by the program, and the Genesee Valley Conservancy commits to holding that conservation easement forever to ensure the ground remains open and available for agricultural production.
Landowners participating are required to contribute 12.5% of the value of the project.
This collaborative effort between Genesee Valley Conservancy and Livingston County has resulted in over $11 million invested in protecting 7,700 acres of some of the States most productive agricultural lands right here in the Genesee Valley. Agriculture is the number one economy in Livingston County and protecting the land base is critical to ensure agriculture can continues to thrive.
This project was supported by the Livingston County Agricultural & Farmland Protection Board and the Town of Leicester, both recognized that high quality land is critical to the local economy and the economic future of the region. The Genesee Valley Conservancy works throughout the Genesee River watershed to protect high quality habitat, open space and farmland for the community.
Farmland owners interested in pursuing conservation options for their property should contact the Genesee Valley Conservancy. Informational meetings for farms wishing to protect their land with a conservation easement through the NYS Purchase of Development Rights program will be held this winter in both Livingston and Wyoming Counties.
- Map: The Christiano Farm conservation easement in Leicester
- Aerial view of one of the highly visible fields from public roadways
- Cutting alfalfa on the farm
- A “podsquad” tractor harvesting peas
- Raking alfalfa
- Rob Besanceney (legal council), Dave Bojanowski (project manager), and Linda and Gerald Christiano Sr. (landowner) at closing.
- Rob Besanceney (legal council), Dave Bojanowski (project manager), and Gerald Christiano Jr. (landowner) and Becky Glass (vice-president) at closing.
- Rob Besanceney (legal council), Dave Bojanowski (project manager), and Linda and Billy Lloyd representing Seven Nation Stakes (landowner) and Cathy Gardner (president) at closing.