Moores and VanDeWeerts Protect Farmland in Leicester & Geneseo
Two recently completed farm projects in Livingston County add 696 acres to lands protected locally in partnership with the Genesee Valley Conservancy. The Moore family in Leicester and the VanDeWeert family in Geneseo recently completed projects to ensure their family farms and the highly productive soils on their farms remain available for agricultural use for future generations.
The Moore Farm project in the Town of Leicester consists of permanently protecting 474 acres of prime farmland along Dunkley Road just west of the Village of Leicester with three conservation easements. The soils on the property are 50% USDA Prime and 35% of Statewide Importance. The property also contains 85 acres of forested buffer to the Beards Creek and Little Beards Creek, an area designated as a Resource Protection Area which contains additional protections to protect the water quality of those streams. Brothers Dennis and Gary have been farming their entire lives. Their father, Lester, started the farm in 1953 as a dairy operation. In 1979 Gary and Dennis took over ownership and continued the dairy until 2006 when they sold the herd and shifted to a cash-crop business which continues today.
The VanDeWeert family, operating Pleasant Hill Farm in the Town of Geneseo, consists of 222 acres of farmland north and south of Lima Road just west of Route 256. This family dairy operation has three generations working on the farm. Garry and Eleanor, who moved the business to Geneseo after their Orange County farm was converted into a large scale golf course, current owners James and Rosemary, and James and Rosemary’s sons Kenny and James Junior. The operation has been a Dairy of Distinction since 1996 and is located at the very headwaters of the Jaycox Creek which flows into the Genesee River. Their herd consists of 100 Holstein cows and they raise their own replacement heifers, milking twice per day. The soils on the farm are 50% USDA Prime and 20% of Statewide Importance.
Leicester and Geneseo have had several private landowners permanently protect their lands with the aid of Genesee Valley Conservancy. In Geneseo, 27 conservation projects have led to the protection of over 5,600 acres of farm and forest lands. In Leicester, 8 conservation projects have protected over 2,400 acres of lands.
The Moore and VanDeWeert projects were selected in 2014 by Livingston County to apply for a New York State Farmland Protection Implementation Grant, which partially reimburses farmers for the development rights on their land while allowing farmers to retain ownership and use of the property. Both projects were selected by the State in late 2014 to receive funding. Since that time, Genesee Valley Conservancy has worked with the landowners to complete their easement projects. A total of $1.065 million was used to purchase conservation easements on these two farms, which includes the payment for the development rights, legal fees, survey and other transaction costs. Additionally, the landowners donated over $475,000 in development rights value to make these projects possible.
To-date, New York State has awarded grants for the protection of over 12,200 acres of farmland in the Genesee Valley, including the unprecedented announcement of $6.27 million to fund the protection of over 3,660 acres made in November.
Landowners interested in learning about conservation options available to them should contact the Genesee Valley Conservancy. Farmers interested in learning about Livingston County’s local selection process and the State grant program can also contact the Conservancy for information or the Livingston County Planning Department.