Marshall’s Century Farm Protected in Avon

Marshall’s Century Farm Protected in Avon

iOctober 18, 2018

Avon farmland owner Eric Marshall protected his century farm this week.

Working with the Genesee Valley Conservancy, Eric placed a conservation easement on his land that protects the high quality and productive soils of the farm.  The easement allows for continued agricultural uses by Eric and future landowners, but limits uses such as subdivision for residential and industrial development that would impair the soils ability to be used for agricultural production.

Started in 1915 by Alexander Marshall, Eric’s grandfather, the farm began with a wide variety of products including dairy cows, beef cows, hogs, sheep, and a diverse selection of cash-crops.  Fast forward to the second generation, Eric’s father, Howard Marshall, transitioned the farm to a more focused 60-cow dairy operation until the 1970’s.  In the 1970’s, the farm again transitioned, this time with a focus on commodity crops and a small beef herd. 

Eric has continued this duel beef and crop operation to this day.  The farm stands at 169 acres, with 95% USDA prime soils – some of the most productive agricultural soils.  

As Eric approached retirement, he recognized that he had no children and the farm would be leaving the family in the future.  He also recognized the high quality ground that he wanted to ensure remained productive in the community for generations to come.

In 2007, Eric began his effort to protect his land through the Livingston County farmland protection program.  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 top few farms from this process are then 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.

This collaborative effort between Genesee Valley Conservancy and Livingston County has resulted in over $10 million invested in protecting over 7,000 acres of some of the States most productive agricultural lands in the Genesee Valley.  Agriculture is the number one industry in Livingston County and protecting the land base is critical to ensure the industry can continue to thrive.

Landowners participating are required to contribute 12.5% of the value of the project.

By protecting this land, Eric knows he can pass this land to a new family to begin their timeline towards century status without losing the family farming legacy that began with his grandfather over 100 years ago on this land. 

This project was supported by the Livingston County Agricultural & Farmland Protection Board and the Town of Avon, both who recognized the high quality land as part of the farmland protection program.  This is the 27th conservation easement held by Genesee Valley Conservancy in Avon and the 75th easement accepted by the organization.  The Genesee Valley Conservancy works throughout the Genesee River watershed to protect high quality habitat, open space and farmland for the community.

Landowners interested in pursuing conservation options for their property should contact the Genesee Valley Conservancy.



- Map: The Marshall Farm conservation easement in Avon
- Rob Besanceney (legal council), Dave Bojanowski (project manager), and Eric Marshall (landowner) after filing the conservation easement at the County Clerk's office.
- The farm is located on Marshall Road, a clear indicator it has been in operation for many generations.
- Cash crops are grown on the farm along with a small beef herd.