LIVINGSTON COUNTY – With the recent closing of preservation projects for 1,677 acres of local farmland, the Genesee Valley Conservancy and Livingston County Planning Department have put Livingston County over the top in New York State for preserved agricultural land.
According to a press release from the Livingston County Planning Department, on July 2, Livingston County and the Genesee Valley Conservancy jointly announced the permanent protection of 1,677 acres of prime farmland on Sunny Knoll and Triple H Farms.
“Including the Sunny Knoll and Triple H Farm projects, Livingston County now has 6,203 acres of farmland permanently protected through the farmland protection program; more acres than any county in the State,” said David Bojanowski with the Genesee Valley Conservancy.
The Sunny Knoll and Triple H Farm preservation projects were partially funded by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYSDAM) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) through a joint farmland protection program. The Sunny Knoll and Triple H farms were selected by the Livingston County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board and County Board of Supervisors to apply for the program due to the high quality of the soils and viability of successful farming operations.
The Genesee Valley Conservancy provided the professional project administration and conservation easement expertise in conjunction with the Livingston County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board and the County Planning Department.
To date, New York State has awarded grants for protection of over 56,000 acres of farmland through the statewide program.
The state and federal grants provided over $3 million in funding to help cover the value of development rights and the transaction costs for the two projects, contributing a significant economic investment into the local farm economy. Livingston County ranks first in the State for production of both corn and wheat for grain and boasts 195,000 acres of farmland. The Sunny Knoll Farm project in the Town of Lima consists of permanently protecting 495 acres of prime farmland along Route 15A south of the Village of Lima. The rolling hills and highly productive farmland owned by the Gruschow and Schenkel families will be protected in perpetuity for agricultural use with a conservation easement held by the Conservancy. The multi-generation Sunny Knoll Farm operated by the Gruschow family grows corn, wheat, soybeans, and grows and processes edible dry beans.
“They aren’t making any more farmland and we need to step up and protect our most productive ag land for future generations of farmers and secure our ability to put food on our tables,” said Sunny Knoll owner and operator Roger Gruschow.
The Triple H Farm protected 1,182 acres of prime farmland with a conservation easement in the towns of Leicester and Geneseo. Owned and operated by the Hamilton family, the farm grows corn, soybeans, peas and snap beans in the fertile soils on the valley floor along the Genesee River.
Landowners include three generations and three families, brothers Roger and Randy Hamilton, Roger’s daughter Leslie, Evelyn Hamilton and the late Earl Hamilton.
The family has worked for 10 years to protect the family farmland and farm operation. Leslie is the newly appointed District 2 representative of the State Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee.
“With all the development in the Geneseo area we can now set long range plans for the future of our farm and be a partner in securing the future of agriculture in New York State,” said Leslie Hamilton.
Permanently protecting farmland from non-agricultural use is a recommendation of the 2006 Livingston County Farmland Protection Plan.
“Local agriculture is better served as the conservation easements placed on these farms allow for continued agricultural uses and restrict conversions to uses that would conflict with agriculture,” said Jon White, Chairman of the County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board.
“Conservation easements are an effective tool for preserving the rural, agricultural identity of Livingston County and the Genesee Valley region,” said Ben Gajewski, Executive Director of the Genesee Valley Nature Conservancy.