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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 busy.shires@horsefarmsforever.com or calling 352-234-7175

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Visual Inspiration For Conservation

The stunning photos of Marion County landscapes, horses and dogs, that you see on our website and social media are graciously donated by Elma Garcia – HFF Founder, Board Member and Gold Sponsor of this year’s Conservation Summit. Elma’s love for the landscape is contagious in each photograph and short film she so kindly allows us to use in support of our mission. Elma is an artist and an equestrian and a treasured member of our team.

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Marion County Talks Conservation

This is the first of a series where we hear directly from the farms, non-profits and businesses who are standing in support of farmland preservation in the midst of our growing economy. As we anticipate the Conservations About Conservation- Summit 2021 next month, we’re sparking the exchange of thoughts and ideas. What do your neighbors think about preserving our farmland? What do you think?

We had conversations about conservation with George Isaacs of Bridlewood Farm, Valerie Dailey of Showcase Properties of Central Florida, and Linda Bammann of Laughing Horse Farm. Here’s what they had to say.

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Four New Sponsors Join The Conversation

Horse Farms Forever Welcomes Golden Ocala/World Equestrian Center, Icard Merrill, Advanced Myographics, and Cox Communications.

The business community is turning out in force to support Horse Farms Forever’s second annual Conservation Summit. The event puts the spotlight on Marion County’s unique quality of life advantages – horses, horse farms and beautiful open spaces.

“We are initiating conversations around the community centered around farmland preservation and conservation,” says Horse Farms Forever Executive Director, Sara Fennessy. “There is an amazing groundswell of interest in investing in the future of Marion County, and keeping it open and beautiful. Close to 40 businesses, non-profits and farms have aligned with us as sponsors for the Summit on November 23 at Ocala Breeder’s Sales. County officials have registered to attend and expressed their enthusiasm in having this conversation. We are gathering those voices together and creating a spark. Each new sponsor brings a unique and valuable perspective to the community-wide conversation.”

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2021 Summit

Horse Farms Forever is pleased to present the 2021 Conservation Summit on November 23rd at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company (OBS). Our speakers will be sharing the same stage as OBS grads and Kentucky Derby winners Lil E. Tee, Silver Charm and Medina Spirit!

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Marion County Should Protect A Unique Resource: Its Horse Farms

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.

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Farmland Is Good For The Bottom Line

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.

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Marion County Future Growth Committee Hears From Horse Farms Forever

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.

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Conservation Summit 2020

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.

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