Meet Busy Shires, our Director of Conservation Strategies
Busy Shires is a land conservation professional with 16 years’ experience facilitating land conservation projects. Her goal is to work with landowners, agencies, and land trust partners to protect farmlands for future generations. Busy’s family owns and operates Gold Leaf Farm in Alachua, FL.
Busy is happy to discuss the various land conservation options available to you. Reach out to her by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 352-234-7175
Read more about Busy…
You may be wondering why a Dollar General store is being built in the Farmland Preservation Area? Marion County’s comprehensive plan allows for limited commercial and residential development in designated Rural Activity Centers (RAC) (Policy 2.1.21) The new Dollar General store is located in the Flemington RAC.
Along with the growth of the horse industry, Marion County was one of only six counties in the nation that had positive job growth during the pandemic. Projects are underway to add 5 million square feet of industrial and warehouse space over the next few years. And where there are jobs, there must be housing to support the growing workforce. Over the next 20 years, Marion County’s population is projected to reach about 500,000 residents. That’s an increase of 150,000 residents.
Cost of Community Services studies conducted over the last 30 years show working lands generate more public revenues than they receive back in public services. Their impact on community coffers is similar to that of other commercial and industrial land uses. On average, because residential land uses do not cover their costs, they must be subsidized by other community land uses. Converting agricultural land to residential land use should not be seen as a way to balance local budgets.
Horse Farms Forever was invited to present at Marion County’s Growth and Future Planning Strategic Committee meeting on December 10th. The Committee is seeking input from stakeholders about growth and development as the county develops a five-year strategic plan. It is led by Angel Roussel, Assistant County Administrator of Public Works, and includes staff from Growth Services, Community Services and Utilities. Marion County Commissioner Michelle Stone, who represents the Farmland Preservation Area, is also a member.
Horses and the love for the scenic beauty of Marion County brought a diverse group of large and small landowners, developers, realtors and elected officials – over 100 people – to Horse Farms Forever’s first Conservation Summit on November 19 at Golden Ocala.
The purpose of the Summit was to inspire preservation of the horse farms and agricultural lands that are fundamental to Marion County’s global brand as the Horse Capital of the World®.
Our speakers discussed practical ways to preserve farmland that benefit landowners and also made several suggestions on how to balance economic development and growth while retaining the sense of place that the iconic horse farms and agricultural lands bring to the area.
This is a challenging time to introduce a live event! Nevertheless, the equestrian and land conservation community has enthusiastically expressed an interest in coming together on the important topic of conserving our land in Marion County. Live attendance for the Conservation Summit at Golden Ocala on November 19 is nearly full. We can still take a few more, so if you’re interested, don’t hesitate. Virtual attendance is also open and will remain open until November 16. You are also welcome to switch from live to virtual, but please do so by November 12. More on that below.
Horse Farms Forever and the Alachua Conservation Trust Announce Partnership to Protect Land in the Farmland Preservation Area
Horse Farms Forever is pleased to announce a partnership with the Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT) to help protect land in Marion County’s Farmland Preservation Area. This partnership will help further the mission of Horse Farms Forever (HFF) of preserving the character and culture that makes Ocala the Horse Capital of the World®.
As we look forward to our First Conservation Summit in just two short months, we are thrilled to announce Brookledge Horse Transportation as our Title Sponsor. An HFF member since 2018, Brookledge is distinguishing themselves as a family business that cares about Marion County’s horses and horse farms.
In the Sidelines article, you will learn more about our new Director of Conservation Strategies, Busy Shires Byerly and why she is uniquely qualified to help Horse Farms Forever as we begin helping farm owners explore their options for conservation of their property. There are over 1,200 horse farms in Marion County. Preserving those farms not only ensures that the character and culture of this special place remains, it protects a thriving horse industry, which contributes over $2.6 billion to the economy and employs over 20,000. As we launch into this important phase of Horse Farms Forever’s history, we are thrilled to have Busy’s passion and expertise to bring to bear on this monumental challenge.
The community came together to join Horse Farms Forever protecting the integrity of the Farmland Preservation Area. Now, now let’s stand together again with Golden Ocala-World Equestrian Center at the May 28 Marion County Commission meeting and advocate for the approval of their amendment to the comprehensive plan. We thank them for listening to our concerns and agreeing to join us in safeguarding the Farmland Preservation Area.