VanDeWeert Farm Protected in Geneseo

VanDeWeert Farm Protected in Geneseo

iNovember 24, 2016

A total of 222 acres of important farmland have been protected by the VanDeWeert family in Geneseo, NY this week.

(Pictured above: The VanDeWeert's farmstead on Lima Road at sunrise.)

The Family

In 1988, Garry and Eleanor VanDeWeert faced a challenging situation; the land they had rented for many years in Orange County, New York, where they operated a dairy farm, was converted into a large scale golf course.  Garry and Eleanor had to find a new home for their family and dairy herd, which brought them to Livingston County where they began operating Pleasant Hill Farm.  The farm was aptly named for the small knoll on Lima Road that one drives over as you pass through their farmstead. 

One of Garry and Eleanor’s sons, James, and his wife Rosemary, took over ownership of the operation in 2012, although Garry and Eleanor remain involved.  James and Rosemary’s sons Kenny and James Jr. are also involved in the operation, making for a three generation farm enterprise today.

Not wanting to see their farm again pulled out of production for another use, the VanDeWeerts made a commitment to protect their farm to ensure the youngest generation today can someday take over the business.

The Farm

The VanDeWeerts milk 100 Holstein cows and raise their own replacement heifers, milking twice per day.  Located in the town of Geneseo on Lima Road, the farm has been a Dairy of Distinction since 1996.  Additionally, the farm grows all of its needed corn, alfalfa, hay, and maintains pastures that are often populated by their herd.

The farm is comprised of 50% USDA Prime Soils and 20% are soils of Statewide Importance.  The farm also sits at the very headwaters of the Jaycox Creek, which drains into the Genesee River in Geneseo.  The Jaycox Creek has been part of a half-dozen other conservation projects completed by Genesee Valley Conservancy to-date.

The family is working to increase the efficiency of their milking operation and increase cow comfort as they look to expand their herd size to help accommodate the third generation entering the operation.

How Conservation Happened

A farmland conservation easement was used to protect this property.  The easement was purchased through the Farmland Protection Implementation Grant offered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets which seeks to protect the best farmland in the State to ensure a robust agricultural economy continues for future generations.  The landowners also donated a portion of the easement’s value as part of this project.

The project was selected by Livingston County as a priority project in 2014, through a pre-application process which ranks farms according to their expected competiveness at the State level.  The Genesee Valley Conservancy then worked with the VanDeWeert family to develop a State grant application, which was awarded in late 2014.  After the State grant announcement, the Conservancy worked with James and Rosemary to complete the details of the project and, this week, placed the conservation easement on the farm ensuring the open space and agricultural uses of the land remain available forever into the future.