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HFF Welcomes Kimberly Van Kampen As A New Founding Member

HFF Welcomes Kimberly Van Kampen As A New Founding Member

Kimberly Van Kampen  Photo source

Marion County is growing by leaps and bounds, but with the opening of the World Equestrian Center (WEC), the horse sport industry is also growing. Most notably, the discipline of dressage has grown with the arrival of several top-level dressage riders and farms.

 

From Wellington to Ocala

In 2019, Kimberly Van Kampen moved her Hampton Green Farms from Wellington to Ocala. The move to Marion County was inspired by the opening of WEC; so much so, that in 2021 Hampton Green Farms and Discover Dressage became Founding Partners of WEC.

Her generous support of dressage will help grow the sport in Marion County, and it will also help protect horse farms. In 2019, Van Kampen joined Horse Farms Forever® as a Charter Member. This year, she became a Founder Member of HFF and we appreciate her continued support!

Van Kampen’s move to Marion County is big news for the dressage world, as she is one of the founders of the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington and a member of Wellington Equestrian Partners. But after 20 years, she decided to move her investments to Ocala because of WEC.

“The new World Equestrian Center has to be seen to be believed,” said Van Kampen in a Euro Dressage article. “There is no other equestrian show facility like it, in both philosophy and facilities. Both Hampton Green Farms and Discover Dressage, in their own rights, focus their efforts on young horses and youth riders in order to create a solid foundation for future success. We are honored to partner with World Equestrian Center to see dressage grow in this amazing place!”

Dressage For Kids

Van Kampen is one of the most respected breeders of P.R.E. (Spanish) horses in the world and is the past president of the US P.R.E. Association. She is also one of the largest supporters of youth dressage, supporting Lendon Gray’s Dressage4Kids program and the Emerging Dressage Athlete Program through the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF). Van Kampen’s sponsored rider Sophia Schults, had two big wins at the 2022 FEI North American Youth Championships (NAYC). Schults and Conocido HGF, owned by Hampton Green Farms, won an Individual Bronze Medal (Freestyle) and were also part of the NAYC Team Gold Medal.

Van Kampen reflected on her move to Ocala on her Hampton Green Farms website:

“But now, my life is Ocala. Ocala—it even sounds like the beautiful place it is. Rolling pastures and grand oak trees that used to be the playground of the Seminole, and which are now home to thousands of acres of young Thoroughbreds. A genteel Southern aesthetic prevails here: rural and old vs. urban and new (per much of coastal Florida); here more native, more authentic, more raw, definitely outside the bubble. County after county of horse and cattle farms, historic cracker architecture and land grant neighborhoods. The stunning new World Equestrian Center and the ambitious generosity of its owners don’t change the landscape, only accentuate it.”

Horse Farms Forever® welcomes Van Kampen and her medal winning team to Ocala!

Kimberly Van Kampen, a daughter of the late American financier Robert Van Kampen, at the covered arena her family’s foundation funded at the Global Dressage Festival. With her is Thomas Baur, sports director for dressage at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Kimberly Van Kampen is a well-known name within the dressage community. As the owner of Olympic stallion Grandioso, as well as Hampton Green Farm, Van Kampen is a top supporter of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival.

Van Kampen (far right), and the young dressage students she supports: Sarah Roda, Sophia Shults and Kerrigan Gulch, with Vaquero HGF. Photo – Dressage Today.

It is the vision and mission of Horse Farms Forever to inspire conservation of horse farms through education, awareness and idea exchange so as to preserve natural pasture land focusing on horses and their habitats, to protect soil and water on which they depend, and minimize land use conflicts
in Marion County, Florida.

We are watchful of government and others to preserve and protect horse farms and farmland for future generations - especially in the Farmland Preservation Area. We are neither anti-growth nor anti-development; we encourage urban growth to remain inside the Urban Growth Boundary.

Horse Farms Forever® is a Florida not-for-profit corporation registered with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services as a charitable organization and approved as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) corporation by the Internal Revenue Service. Horse Farms Forever® does not have a political mission. Our status as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization does not allow us to participate or intervene in political activities. The organization will neither advocate on behalf of political candidates nor advocate for the passage of legislation.

 

HFF Welcomes Valerie Dailey, Owner of Showcase Properties, as a New Founding Member

HFF Welcomes Valerie Dailey, Owner of Showcase Properties, as a New Founding Member

Dailey is also the President of the Board of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association (FTBOA.) and the first woman to hold the post of FTBOA Board President since the organization was established in 1945.

Dailey is a Community Standout

Valerie Dailey, Owner and Broker of Showcase Properties was one of HFF’s first Charter Members and has renewed every year since 2018. This year, the agency renewed and increased their support to the Founder Level! We are grateful for their continued support to help protect Marion County’s horse farms!

Showcase Properties is one of Marion County’s top 5 brokerages in total volume for 2021 with a combined total of over $200M in sales volume. Dailey, a Florida-licensed REALTOR® and owner of Showcase since 2013, specializes in the listing and selling of equine properties, as well as residential, commercial, and agricultural properties.

In 2018, Dailey was recognized as Realtor of the Year by the Ocala/Marion County Association of Realtors®. And in 2019, she was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year by the Ocala Women’s Council.

The real estate agency has grown substantially under her leadership. When she joined the agency in 2005, there were only 5 agents; now there are over 40 agents. In 2021, their team helped to close over 440 different transactions both on and off the market and were ranked #1 in farm sales by total transactions.

“To say that 2021 was a fantastic year doesn’t do justice to the hard work and dedication that our team put in, but it was, in fact, a fantastic year!” stated Dailey on the Showcase Properties website.

Her expertise in real estate sales includes being part of the sales of the three highest selling properties in Marion County. One of these properties was Bridlewood Farm as Showcase Properties represented the seller of the farm to John and Leslie Malone in 2013 for $14 million; making it one of the highest-selling farms in Marion County.

The local horse industry breathed a sigh of relief to hear that not only would the operation remain a Thoroughbred farm, but that the Malones would continue to operate it under the Bridlewood name,” states the Showcase Properties website.

FTBOA President and Thoroughbred Breeder

Dailey is also the President of the Board of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association (FTBOA.) She is also the first woman to hold the post of FTBOA Board President since the organization was established in 1945. Valerie and her husband Hugh, along with their daughter Samantha, operate a successful Thoroughbred breeding farm called 3D Farm (for the three Daileys.) They have had multiple stakes winners, including a Breeder’s Cup qualifier. She has been a member of FTBOA for over 25 years.

Showcase Properties supported over 30 different charities, organizations, and events in 2021 to help enrich the lives of fellow Floridians. Horse Farms Forever® is grateful to be included as one of their selected organizations. Thank you!

Equestrian culture is so deeply woven into the collective DNA of the area. It’s a collegial, collaborative and inclusive community that is very invested in efficient land use and sustainability. Marion County is known for being a place of incredible natural beauty, with plenty of parks and recreational areas to hike and ride and explore. It’s a wonderful place to live and work.

Valerie Dailey

Owner and Broker, Showcase Properties of Central Florida

Corporate Membership

Looking for a way to promote your business throughout the equine community? Becoming a Horse Farms Forever Corporate Member gives you access to our members in Ocala/Marion County and beyond.  Donating to Horse Farms Forever, a registered 501(c)3 with the IRS, reaches our members, friends, and subscribers though our newsletters, social media, advertising, and events.  To learn more or to join please contact our Executive Director,
Emily Holmes

It is the vision and mission of Horse Farms Forever to inspire conservation of horse farms through education, awareness and idea exchange so as to preserve natural pasture land focusing on horses and their habitats, to protect soil and water on which they depend, and minimize land use conflicts
in Marion County, Florida.

We are watchful of government and others to preserve and protect horse farms and farmland for future generations - especially in the Farmland Preservation Area. We are neither anti-growth nor anti-development; we encourage urban growth to remain inside the Urban Growth Boundary.

Horse Farms Forever® is a Florida not-for-profit corporation registered with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services as a charitable organization and approved as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) corporation by the Internal Revenue Service. Horse Farms Forever® does not have a political mission. Our status as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization does not allow us to participate or intervene in political activities. The organization will neither advocate on behalf of political candidates nor advocate for the passage of legislation.

 

Just What IS The Farmland Preservation Area?

Just What IS The Farmland Preservation Area?

Photo by Elma Garcia Cannavino.

Marion County is home to nearly 4,000 farms including over 1,200 horse farms. Most of these horse farms are in the Farmland Preservation Area. Of Marion County’s 1 million acres of land, the Farmland Preservation Area (FPA) encompasses just under 200,000 acres in the northwest portion of the county. While the FPA is called a preservation area, it’s not protected in the same way government owned lands like the Ocala National Forest are protected. The Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Regulations are guidelines that define rural character and establish compatible uses in the FPA, but they do not prevent subdivision of land or stop development that is deemed compatible by the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC).

The boundaries of the FPA, and the rules that govern it, are at the discretion of the BOCC. While all five current Commissioners are strong supporters of the FPA, as development pressure increases, additional tools are available to help protect the rural character and preserve compatible uses in the FPA.

Preservation and growth have to coexist strategically or neither succeeds. The tools that provide permanent protection for the FPA are in the hands of private landowners.

Conservation County

Marion County is one of the largest geographic counties in Florida. In round numbers, it covers over 1 million acres.  About forty-percent of this acreage is protected from development.

For example, the Marion County portion of the Ocala National Forest covers about 320,000 acres and is owned by the US Forest Service. Established in 1908, it is the oldest national forest east of the Mississippi River and the southernmost national forest in the continental US. While it is a national forest, there are private and government in-holdings inside its boundaries.

Another example of protected land is Silver Springs State Park, which covers about 4,000 acres and contains one of the largest artesian springs ever discovered. It is owned by the State and managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees 175 state parks, trails and historic sites as part of the Florida State Parks system. In the City of Ocala, an example of protected land is the Fort King National Historic Landmark, which covers about 40 acres and is jointly owned by the City and County.

Of Marion County’s 1 million acres, the Farmland Preservation Area encompasses just under 200,000 acres in the northwest portion of the county. By comparison, the Urban Growth Area is about 125,000 acres, not including the City of OcalaThe remaining 400,000 acres is a patchwork of rural lands and municipalities such as The Villages, Dunnellon and Belleview, and towns, like McIntosh and Reddick.

The Farmland Preservation Area is designated by the red line, the Urban Growth Boundary by the blue line, Public Conservation lands are in green, and the orange areas are privately owned lands that have been conserved with Marion County’s Transfer of Development Rights program with a conservation easement.

The Farmland Preservation Area Is Born

In 2004, the County adopted several amendments to the Future Land Use Element to create the Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) program to protect farmland and other natural resources. Then, in 2005, the Farmland Preservation Area (FPA) was created by the County to serve as the sending area for the TDR program.

There are three main elements to help preserve farms in Marion County:

  1. a designated boundary on the County’s Future Land Use Map for the FPA,
  2. Objective 3.3 in the Comprehensive Plan that defines compatible rural uses in the FPA, and
  3. a voluntary Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) program to incentivize landowners to protect their land with a conservation easement.

The first two elements, the boundaries of the FPA and the policies that govern it, are at the discretion of the BOCC. The third element, the Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) program, lies in the hands of private landowners. The TDR program is what makes the FPA a true Preservation Area, but it requires private landowners to participate in the program.

How does the Farmland Preservation Area (FPA) protect land?

While the FPA is called a preservation area, it’s not protected in the same way that government lands like the Ocala National Forest are protected. The Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Regulations are guidelines that define rural character and establish compatible uses in the FPA, but they do not prevent subdivision of land or stop development that is deemed compatible by the Board of County Commissioners.

The FPA boundary is a line drawn on the County’s Future Land Use Map and is described in Objective 3.3 of the Comprehensive Plan as “intended to encourage preservation of agriculture as a viable use of lands and an asset of Marion County’s economy and to protect the rural character of the area.”

Policy 3.3.1 defines the Elements of Rural Character: “The County shall preserve and protect rural and equestrian/agricultural character within the Rural Lands, specifically the Farmland Preservation Area, by requiring that all appropriate future development activities within this Area preserve, support, and enhance the fundamental elements of rural character, set forth below, and further requiring that all Zoning Changes and Special Use Permits within the Farmland Preservation Area be consistent with and preserve, protect, support, and enhance the rural, equestrian, and farmland character of the Farmland Preservation Area.”

The Horse Farms Forever® Text Amendment, which became effective on April 30, 2022, enhanced the definition of Rural Character shown above in bold italics by further requiring that all Zoning Changes and Special Use Permits within the FPA be consistent with and preserve, protect and support and enhance the rural, equestrian, and farmland character of the FPA.

TDR Sending Areas

In 2005, the boundary of the Farmland Preservation Area was designated as the original “sending area” for the TDR program, but after the initial designation, this area was extended beyond the FPA boundaries. The sending area site must be 30 acres or more of contiguous land and either located within the designated FPA or have attributes listed in Policy 1.1.2 of the Conservation Element of the Marion County Comprehensive Plan, which include locally significant natural resources, such as certain types of soil, water and vegetation.

 

HFF will be holding our Third Annual Conservation Summit this fall on Tuesday, November 22, at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Arena. The theme will be Transportation. We will release further details as the event nears. Please mark your calendar and join us as we continue this very important conversation to help protect what we love most about Marion County – the open spaces and beautiful places.

Questions About Conservation?

Contact Busy Shires, our Director of Conservation Strategies, by email or by phone 386-853-4437.

Always Watching

We work hard to keep you informed, and to represent our members' interests in preserving our horse farms, farmland and the unique character and culture of Marion County's 193,000 acre Farmland Preservation Area.

Join the herd. Every voice matters.

TDR Receiving Areas

The “receiving area” is designated on the Future Land Use Map, Transfer of Rights, with the majority of the receiving areas located within the Urban Growth Boundary. The Transferrable Development Credits may be transferred to and used on lands identified on the Transfer of Rights Map.

Transferrable Development Credits (TDC) Have Potential Value

If landowners choose to participate in the TDR program, the BOCC must approve the agreement; then the landowner records a conservation easement on the property and receives the TDCs. To help incentivize participation, the County increased the TDCs to one credit per every acre of sending area land preserved in 2007.

Thus, if a private property in the sending area meets the requirements of the TDR program, in exchange for placing a conservation easement on their property, the landowner receives TDCs that can be sold or utilized.

When the TDR program was adopted, the County set a goal of placing conservation easements on 5,000 acres by 2015. As of today, the TDR program protects about 3,200 acres of land.

One of the properties protected by the County’s TDR program is owned by Dick and Sharon Sawallis. In 2007, they voluntarily protected 93 acres of their land, which is part of the scenic view shed of the Orange Lake Overlook on U.S. 441 just south of the Town of McIntosh.

 “It’s a gorgeous view when the sun comes up, or the sun goes down over that lake. That’s what I want to preserve and not look at a bunch of houses,” Sharon Sawallis said in the Ocala Star Banner article.

Photo by Sean Dowie

Conservation Easements Protect Land from Development

Due to the exponential growth in Marion County, development pressure to subdivide farms in the FPA and alter the FPA boundaries will continue. And because the land located in the FPA is privately owned, landowners have the right to subdivide their land, as permitted in the Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Regulations, or approved by the Board of County Commissioners.

Marion County’s TDR program is a good start. The program has protected about 3,200 acres of land in the FPA with conservation easements. Conservation easements are an essential step to protect land from development. In order to truly protect horse farms and other agricultural land in the FPA, the solution is voluntary conservation easements. When a landowner places a conservation easement on their property, they decide the future of their property rather than the government or elected officials.

A conservation easement is a voluntary, legally binding agreement between a landowner and a qualified organization, such as a land trust or government entity, that permanently limits uses of the land to protect agricultural, ecological, or other natural and historic resources.

Landowners have rights to their land, such as the ability to subdivide, build homes and barns, cut trees, mine for minerals, and other rights. A conservation easement allows a landowner to retain private ownership while restricting some of those rights to protect the property’s conservation values and preserve the agricultural uses. The easement document will identify the rights that the landowner wishes to retain, limit or forgo. Easements are custom-designed to meet the personal and financial needs of the landowner. An easement may cover portions of a property or the entire parcel. The property remains a private holding and is only open to the public at the owner’s discretion.

Conservation easements can provide peace of mind by protecting land in perpetuity, regardless of who owns it in the future. HFF is happy to help facilitate this conversation and provide resources to interested landowners.

Inspiring Conservation

It is the vision and mission of Horse Farms Forever to inspire conservation of horse farms through education, awareness and idea exchange so as to preserve natural pasture land focusing on horses and their habitats, to protect soil and water on which they depend, and minimize land use conflicts in Marion County.

Horses, horse farms and the horse industry create the character and culture that define Marion County. The aim of Horse Farms Forever is to raise awareness and education to ensure that this sense of place is protected for future generations.

The purpose of Horse Farms Forever is to be watchful of government and others in actions pertaining to the character and culture that horses and the Farmland Preservation Area make unique to Marion County. That includes strategies to preserve horse farms and pastureland, especially in the Farmland Preservation Area, for future generations.

We hope you will join Horse Farms Forever and support our mission. 

Liz Halliday-Sharp Becomes an HFF Founder

Liz Halliday-Sharp Becomes an HFF Founder

Five Star Eventer Liz Halliday-Sharp Aligns With Ocala’s Horse Farm Preservation Movement

Horse Farms Forever® is thrilled to have Liz Halliday-Sharp-HS Eventing join our growing herd of Founding Members.

Liz Halliday-Sharp is a unique sportswoman. Originally from California, she calls both the Blue Fox Farm in Lexington, KY, and Horsepower Equestrian located in Fellowship, in the heart of Marion County’s Farmland Preservation Area, home for her equestrian pursuits.

A Master of Speedy Things

On the one hand, Liz is an international three-day eventer who competes successfully up to the CCI5* level, while on the other she’s formerly a professional racing driver in sports car and GT endurance disciplines. Liz is also an experienced TV broadcaster and presenter and has worked with numerous different channels and companies in both the US and Europe.

For the past twenty years, Liz split her time between the UK and USA which helped her to create a successful business producing and selling horses, as well as providing an opportunity to compete and train in both Europe and America. Now she is lucky to be based full-time in the United States.

Over the last few years, Liz has enjoyed wins and top results up to the CCI5* level of Eventing competition across both continents. Those results have helped her to become an established member of the US Equestrian Eventing High Performance Training List for many years. She has also appeared on multiple Nation’s Cup Teams and was the reserve for Team USA at both the 2018 World Equestrian Games and 2019 Pan American Games. With a strong team of horses in the barn, Liz is very excited for the future.

Rider of the Year

Over the course of the 2020 season, Liz amassed 590.5 leaderboard points to clinch the US Eventing Association Rider of the Year title – the first female since 1981. She rode 13 different horses including Deniro Z, Fernhill By Night, Cooley Quicksilver, Shanroe Cooley, Cooley Seeking Fortune, Cooley Be Cool, Cooley Stormwater, Cooley Black Hawk, Flash Cooley, Cooley Moonshine, Cooley Starship, Maryville Sir Henry, and Cooley HHS Calmaria, at 22 different events including Grand Oaks, Rocking Horse, Pine Top, Three Lakes, Red Hills, Ocala, Stable View, Maryland Horse Trials, Champagne Run, Virginia Horse Trials, River Glen, Fair Hill, Great Meadow International, Chattahoochee Hills, Blue Ride Mountain Horse Trials, Plantation Field, Hagyard Midsouth, Galway Downs, and Tryon International. Including her 25 national and international wins, she finished in the top five a whopping 67 times.

More about Liz in 2022:

 

​Please join us in thanking Liz and Horsepower Equestrian for their support. She does Marion County proud in her eventing pursuits.

Liz Halliday-Sharp aboard Cooley Stormwater alongside Rob Desino of Ocala Horse Properties, who partner with Liz as an owner/sponsor.
Source

Most recently, US Equestrian named Liz and Miks Master C, owned by Deborah Palmer and HFF Founders Ocala Horse Properties, to the Bromont CCI Three Day Event Nations Cup Team. They will compete on August 18-20 at Bromont in Quebec, Canada.

Ocala Horse Properties Matt Varney, Liz Halliday-Sharp, Chris Desino and Rob Desino.
Source

It is the vision and mission of Horse Farms Forever to inspire conservation of horse farms through education, awareness and idea exchange so as to preserve natural pasture land focusing on horses and their habitats, to protect soil and water on which they depend, and minimize land use conflicts
in Marion County, Florida.

We are watchful of government and others to preserve and protect horse farms and farmland for future generations - especially in the Farmland Preservation Area. We are neither anti-growth nor anti-development; we encourage urban growth to remain inside the Urban Growth Boundary.

Horse Farms Forever® is a Florida not-for-profit corporation registered with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services as a charitable organization and approved as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) corporation by the Internal Revenue Service. Horse Farms Forever® does not have a political mission. Our status as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization does not allow us to participate or intervene in political activities. The organization will neither advocate on behalf of political candidates nor advocate for the passage of legislation.

 

Meet the Founders of Horse Farms Forever®

Meet the Founders of Horse Farms Forever®

New Founder Tasha Osbourne of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty 

Horse Farms Forever® welcomes 13 new Founders!  They join a group of 56 Founders who understand the connection between a robust preservation program for horse farms and a strong equine industry.

Our Founders demonstrate the pinnacle of commitment to preservation of horse farms by investing in the mission of Horse Farms Forever®, year after year. Not every member is a Founder, but more and more people are raising their hands and making a difference in Marion County to help protect horse farms for future generations.

 

Open Spaces, Beautiful Places

A leisurely Sunday afternoon drive through Marion County’s Horse Country is one of the most beautiful and enchanting landscapes to experience. The iconic open spaces draw you in with their magical Spanish moss-covered canopy, magnificent horses and miles of 4-rail fences. To protect horse farms in our treasured crown jewel – the Farmland Preservation Area – Horse Farms Forever® has adopted a long-term strategy with achievable and visionary goals to help preserve horse farms in Marion County.

Real Conservation Takes Real Commitment

Horse Farms Forever® has worked hard to share the vision with the other major stakeholders in Marion County. We have achieved success by being relevant in our actions, educational in our messages and always respectful of others’ opinions.

This long-term approach takes commitment, time and expertise to make it happen – just as the leisurely drive takes longer – yet the end result is worth the effort. Our commitment is to create lasting, impactful change as we celebrate the organization’s fourth birthday.  And over the past four years, Horse Farms Forever® has many blue-ribbon wins to celebrate.

  • Coastal Connector Toll Road – HFF joined other major stakeholders in asking the FDOT to reconsider the routes of the proposed Coastal Connector Toll Road through the heart of the FPA.
  • New FPA Signs – HFF partnered with Marion County to help identify the Farmland Preservation Area by designing the new FPA sign (the sign with the horse) and funding for the placement of dozens of new signs.
  • WEC Agreement – HFF reached an agreement with the Golden Ocala Equestrian Lands leadership to save 275 acres from being removed from the FPA.
  • ATV Racetrack in Flemington – HFF lead the charge to stop the development of an ATV park and ¼-mile dragstrip in the heart of the FPA and a large area of horse farms.
  • QoL Survey – HFF served as the catalyst for the Quality-of-Life Survey to gauge the community wide support for preserving horse farms and the FPA. Over 90% of the community agreed that these special features should be protected.
  • Conversations About Conservation – HFF hosts two annual events focused on protecting horse farms and the FPA.
  • HFF Amendment – HFF successfully amended the Marion County Comprehensive Plan to add further protections to the FPA by more tightly defining rural character and compatible land uses.
  • Conservation Easements – HFF is working with the County leadership to refine the Transfer of Development Rights Program to make it more effective and functional, adding further protections to the FPA with conservation easements.

The support of our Founding Members was the key to bringing home these blue-ribbon wins, and we are so grateful for the tremendous level of support from a broad spectrum of members. While HFF was started by some of the most iconic horse farms, over the past four years the original founding members have been joined by a wide spectrum of other individuals, foundations and businesses. To all of our Founders, we say THANK YOU!

Hanna Pieri and her fiancé Jason Lyons, owner of The Yard Stop.

Jason Lyons of The Yard Stop put it plainly, “Horse farms are the foundation of our business. Without horse farms, there are no horses and no equine industry. We are excited to continue and increase our support for Horse Farms Forever.”

We are so honored to have Tasha Osbourne of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty and Jason Lyons and Hanna Pieri of The Yard Stop as two of our thirteen new Founding Members. They share HFF’s goal of protecting this iconic landscape. This culture of conservation is important to ensuring that the Farmland Preservation Area, our crown jewel and the foundation of our brand and identity as the Horse Capital of the World®, is preserved for future generations.

Take a drive through the list of our new and continuing Founding Members.

Our Newest Founders:

Individual/Family:

Niall & Stephanie Brennan

Niall Brennan Stables

Lori & Peter Conway

Conway Arabians

Janet & Kurt Giesselman

Naked Horse Farm

Jacqueline Mars

Stonehall Farm

Phyllis & Patrick Harlow

Ladera Farm

Corporate:

Misty Lane Cattle Co.
Misty Lane Cattle Co.

Tasha Osbourne

Premier Sotheby’s International Realty

Foundations/Trusts:

Misty Lane Cattle Co.

Cathy D. Perry Estate

Misty Lane Cattle Co.

Saint Bernard Foundation, Inc.

It is the vision and mission of Horse Farms Forever to inspire conservation of horse farms through education, awareness and idea exchange so as to preserve natural pasture land focusing on horses and their habitats, to protect soil and water on which they depend, and minimize land use conflicts
in Marion County, Florida.

We are watchful of government and others to preserve and protect horse farms and farmland for future generations - especially in the Farmland Preservation Area. We are neither anti-growth nor anti-development; we encourage urban growth to remain inside the Urban Growth Boundary.

Horse Farms Forever® is a Florida not-for-profit corporation registered with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services as a charitable organization and approved as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) corporation by the Internal Revenue Service. Horse Farms Forever® does not have a political mission. Our status as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization does not allow us to participate or intervene in political activities. The organization will neither advocate on behalf of political candidates nor advocate for the passage of legislation.

 

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

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.

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.

Commissioner Zalak focused on the growing economy and tourism. In 2010, there was a 14.4 percent unemployment rate. “Times were tough,” he said. However, with the County’s focus to grow the economy over the past 10 years, the unemployment rate is now about 2.8%.

Balancing growth is important to the County, while also growing the economy. Approximately two-thirds of the County is protected from urban development between the Farmland Preservation Area and the Ocala National Forest.

The County’s tourism industry is also growing with the opening of the World Equestrian Center and the FAST Aquatic Center.

“Great venues like the World Equestrian Center have made Marion County as a destination on an international stage,” said Commissioner Zalak.

Marion County is also becoming a logistics hub due to its central location in the state and I-75. The tax revenue from the buildings helps keep the County’s property tax rates low.

Commissioner Zalak also reported that Marion County is being considered as an ideal location to site a 120-bed Veterans’ Nursing Home; funded through the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs (FDVA) and the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The County is home to more than 45,000 veterans. About 650,000 veterans live within a 75-mile radius of the site.

Commissioner Curry presented a summary of the County’s Litter Task Force to help change the mindset of people negatively impacting our community and scenic roadways. The task force is tasked with coming up with a plan that the community can implement. The County spends over $900,000 picking up litter every year and nearly 84 percent is thrown intentionally.

“We are better than this,” said Commissioner Curry.

Commissioner Michelle Stone presented an update on affordable housing and the Commitment to Zero plan to help improve transportation safety.

Commissioners Jeff Gold and Kathy Bryant also presented summaries on fire rescue and law enforcement infrastructure improvements, and the County’s $2.5M in park improvements at Blue Run Park near Dunnellon.

 

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

Broadband Feasibility Study

Commissioner Michelle Stone also presented the Broadband Feasibility Study to research the need for high speed internet county wide. The County is partnering with Televate to conduct the study, which will help determine where new or improved broadband services are needed. The County is also partnering with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) for the Broadband Speed Test to help develop Florida’s Broadband Availability Map.

For the Broadband Survey, there is an eCheckup to share what type of internet service residents currently have. For the Broadband Speed Test, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) has a link to take an internet speed test.

Attend a Presentation

Three more presentations of the State of the County are planned:

  • Wednesday, July 27 at 7 pm, Salt Springs, VFW
  • Tuesday, August 9 at 1 pm, Del Webb Spruce Creek, Ballroom (Only open to Spruce Creek residents.)
  • Thursday, August 18 at 7 pm, The Villages, Mulberry Grove Recreation Center

It is the vision and mission of Horse Farms Forever to inspire conservation of horse farms through education, awareness and idea exchange so as to preserve natural pasture land focusing on horses and their habitats, to protect soil and water on which they depend, and minimize land use conflicts
in Marion County, Florida.

We are watchful of government and others to preserve and protect horse farms and farmland for future generations - especially in the Farmland Preservation Area. We are neither anti-growth nor anti-development; we encourage urban growth to remain inside the Urban Growth Boundary.

Horse Farms Forever® is a Florida not-for-profit corporation registered with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services as a charitable organization and approved as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) corporation by the Internal Revenue Service. Horse Farms Forever® does not have a political mission. Our status as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization does not allow us to participate or intervene in political activities. The organization will neither advocate on behalf of political candidates nor advocate for the passage of legislation.

 

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