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Horse Farms Forever is a compact and powerful nonprofit,
founded in 2018 to:

Protect

Marion County’s Farmland Preservation Area was established in 2005. Its mineral-rich soil and water, and spring sheds are subject to increasing development and roadway threats. We participate and defend.

Promote

The culture, character and vibrant economy of greater Ocala is uniquely based on the presence of horses and horse farms. We share the facts.

Preserve

Landowners who love their land and wish to see it passed along to future generations have many options. We show the way.

Plan

The blueprint for Rural Land Management is written at the county level and made strong by collaboration and community influence. We facilitate progress.

INTERACTIVE MAP OF MARION COUNTY

INTERACTIVE MEMBERS MAP

See what we’re protecting and who is with us.
CLICK HERE

The Threats Are Real

From new roadways to rezoning. We are here to gather and multiply all of the voices that understand the value of our rural heritage and seek to preserve it forever.

News:

Meet the Founders of Horse Farms Forever®

Horse Farms Forever® welcomes 12 new Founders!  They join a group of 53 Founders who understand the connection between a robust preservation program for horse farms and a strong equine industry.

State of the County Report Focused on the Growing Economy and Tourism

Over the summer, Marion County is presenting the State of the County report. The first presentation was held on Friday, July 8 at the Circle Square Cultural Center. Horse Farms Forever attended to be on the lookout about any potential projects that may affect horse farms, primarily in the Farmland Preservation Area (FPA). Three additional presentations are planned throughout Marion County.

County Commission Chairman Carl Zalak, III, presented the report along with fellow County Commissioners and staff.

Highlights included the state of the economy, future improvements to transportation systems, a countywide broadband research study, and improvements to public services such as law enforcement, fire rescue, animal services, and Blue Run Park.

United Voices Support the Farmland Preservation Area

The decision about the future of the Ocala Jockey Club (OJC) was made on June 21 and while not everyone is happy about the Marion County Commission’s vote, every person and elected official who spoke either, in favor, or against the application had one thing in common: a strong desire to protect the Farmland Preservation Area from incompatible uses.

Horse Farms Forever Celebrates Four Years of Big Wins for the Farmland Preservation Area

On Friday May 20, Horse Farms Forever® (HFF) held our annual Spring Speaker Series at the College of Central Florida’s Vintage Farm. It was an intimate event for our members, guests and other large farm owners to continue the conversation about conservation. We celebrated the organization’s fourth birthday and reflected on the growth and success under the leadership of outgoing Executive Director Sara Powell Fennessy.

HFF Talks Turnpike with FDOT

In October 2021, Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise (FTE), part of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), began an Alternative Corridor Evaluation (ACE) study to evaluate the extension of Florida’s Turnpike from its northerly terminus in Wildwood to a logical and appropriate terminus as determined by FDOT.  The Northern Turnpike Extension (NTE) study area includes Citrus, Levy, Marion, and Sumter counties.

April Showers Bring New Members

New members are popping up all over the place this Spring as we celebrate the success of the Amendment to the Comprehensive Plan. As a large herd, we can turn our concerns into smart planning for a future that both grows our economy and protects our horse farms. We thank our renewing members and welcome new members this month: Longwood Arenas, Cone Distributing, Ocala Metro CEP

Horse Farms Forever® Amends the Comprehensive Plan

Horse Farms Forever® is excited to announce a recent victory for the Farmland Preservation Area! On April 30, a large-scale Text Amendment to the Future Land Use Element was successfully adopted as part of Marion County’s Comprehensive Plan. This Amendment helps protect the Farmland Preservation Area from incompatible Zoning Requests and Special Use Permits.

We worked diligently for over a year with community leaders, major land owners, developers, and other stakeholders to seek support for the Amendment to strengthen Future Land Use Objective 3.3 – Farmland Preservation Area. After 14 months, these efforts paid-off when the Growth Services staff recommended approval of the Amendment, the Planning and Zoning Commissioners voted unanimously for approval, and finally the County Commissioners voted unanimously at the two public hearings to approve the Amendment.

The County’s Comprehensive Plan is similar to a company’s Mission Statement in that it lays out Goals, Objectives and Policies to provide a vision for sustainable urban, suburban and rural growth that supports a transportation network, a variety of land uses, natural and agricultural resources, and open space.

Farmland Preservation Month Quality of Life Survey Highlights Importance of Farmland Preservation

April is Farmland Preservation Month in Marion County. In honor of this important designation by the Marion County Commission, Horse Farms Forever is pleased to present the results of the recently conducted Quality of Life Survey (Survey) in Marion County. The Survey results concluded that residents feel strongly about protecting Marion County’s rural charm and beauty by preserving farmland and natural resources. Population growth, new development, roads, access to emergency services, and countywide internet service were also key issues of concern. The Survey was organized by Horse Farms Forever and supported by five sponsors including the Ocala Metro Chamber and Economic Partnership (Ocala CEP), College of Central Florida, Ocala Horse Properties, the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association (FTBOA), and the Hotel Design Group. The Matrix Group, an independent research firm, conducted the Survey in July 2021. A representative sampling was mailed to approximately 15,000 residents and over 1,200 households responded.

What’s Gotten Into Horse Farms Forever?

In our watchdog role, if a development or roadway is proposed that affects horse farms in the rural area and especially in the Farmland Preservation Area, the HFF® staff gathers the facts, attends the meetings, contacts county staff and the developer, confers with our professional counselors, then prepares a draft position paper for our board of directors. Our nine directors then study the position paper and supporting documents and a meeting is held to review the recommendation of the HFF® staff. The board then makes a determination as to whether taking a position on the matter aligns with our mission statement, and further if the proposed matter is a compatible land use and concurrent with the Comprehensive Plan. The board then formalizes our position. That position is either opposition, neutral, support or no position depending on the circumstances.

Over the 4 years since our inception, HFF® has taken just 9 formal positions – 2 regarding roadways and 7 regarding development. Of those 9 formal positions – 4 were in support, 3 were in opposition and 2 were neutral. Please refer to our website for the position papers. Here are 3 real world examples of those different positions.

New Rider Up in the Executive Director Post

Horse Farms Forever Welcomes New Executive Director Emily Holmes & Thanks Outgoing Executive Director Sara Fennessy for Her Service

Horse Farms Forever is pleased to announce Emily Holmes as incoming executive director. She will officially take over the role as executive director on May 1. During her tenure as Events Coordinator and Director of Events at the Florida Horse Park, she assisted in developing the facility to its current infrastructure and brought multiple competitions in-house. In addition, Holmes was influential in obtaining an FEI 4*S competition to add to the Ocala International Festival of Eventing. Holmes is also a freelance organizer of USEA/USEF Horse Trials and FEI Eventing competitions across the country and has her USEF “r” Eventing Technical Delegate’s license.

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Like our horses, we are safer and stronger together.
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