iNovember 2, 2016

Governor Cuomo announced on Wednesday at the Conference on Sustainable Development & Collaborative Governance in Rochester that four local farms were selected for permanent protection through the New York State Farmland Protection Program.  The four family farms - Christiano Farm, Marshall Farm, Edgewood Farms, and Old Acres Farm - represent an unprecedented achievement for Livingston and Wyoming counties.

For Wyoming County, Old Acres Farm will be the first farm to be protected through this farmland protection program.  In Livingston County, the acreage is the most ever protected in a single county in one year and will further the County’s distinction of being the county with the most farmland acres permanently protected through this program in New York State.

In total, this announcement identifies the protection of 3,662 acres of highly productive farmland for continued agricultural uses in the towns of Avon, Groveland, Leicester, and Perry.  Benjamin Gajewski, Executive Director of Genesee Valley Conservancy said, “This announcement is clear validation that the Genesee Valley region has the most productive farms in the State and that we have great farm families and communities dedicated to agriculture now and for future generations.”  The farmland protection grants will provide $6.27 million in funding for the four projects, covering the purchase of development rights and transaction costs to permanently protect the 3,662 acres, infusing a significant investment into the local agricultural economy. 

Previous to this announcement, Genesee Valley Conservancy in partnership with 6 farms, have protected 6,100 acres through this highly competitive State grant program.  The farms to be protected through this year’s announcement are:

Christiano Farm, a 709 acre alfalfa operation that is perhaps most easily identified by their alfalfa drying mill on Route 39 in Leicester.  The land base that supports this facility is 93% prime soils and produces above average yields of high quality alfalfa for regional feed mills.  The permanent conservation of this farmland will include protection of 1 mile along Beards Creek and 2 miles of the Genesee River.  The protection of this fourth generation farm will add to the more than 1,750 acres of permanently protected land within the Town of Leicester.

Marshall Farm, a 171 acre cash crop farm is the first century farm to be protected through this program.  Last year the farm reached its 100 year milestone.  The longevity of this farm is in part due to its 89% prime soils.  This project will add to the more than 4,885 acres of land permanently protected in the Town of Avon through the Genesee Valley Conservancy. 

Edgewood Farms, a 1,488 acre project operated by the 6th generation of the Phelps family.  The farm started in 1868.  The land in this project services a diverse group of businesses including suppling feed to La Casa de Leche Farm, a dairy operation, and providing grains to Black Button Distilling of the Rohrbach Brewing Company in Rochester.  The recently adopted Groveland Farmland Protection Plan specifically targeted this farmland for permanent conservation.  This project will add to the more than 245 acres of land permanently protected in the Town of Groveland through the Genesee Valley Conservancy. 

Old Acres Farm, a 1,294 acre project is the first farmland project to be selected in Wyoming County for permanent protection.  The farm encompasses land in Livingston and Wyoming Counties, with the main farmstead located in the Town of Perry.  Both counties and the Towns of Leicester and Perry, and the Village of Perry, supported this project.  In addition to highly productive land, the farmland encompasses 94% of the land between the Village of Perry and the Pine Tavern five corners and will create an unprecedented viewshed as you travel Route 39.  On a clear day, you can view over a 75 mile wide vista from this stretch of road.  The project also a rural entrance to the Village of Perry, a key component of the Village’s comprehensive plan. 

Before applying to the competitive State program the Christiano, Marshall and Edgewood farms were identified by the Livingston County Farmland Protection Board as priority projects through a pre-selection process.  The Genesee Valley Conservancy then worked with the farms to develop their applications to submit to the highly competitive State program.  Each project was also supported by its respective town board as furthering the community’s goal for continued agricultural use.

Each farm plays an important role in the larger conservation picture, adding to existing farmland conserved by landowners in the Genesee Valley, protecting distinct separation between urban areas and the countryside, and lands under high threat of development pressure.  Farmers interested in learning about this farmland protection program should contact Dave Bojanowski at the Genesee Valley Conservancy.  More information can be found on our Farmland Protection page.