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Proactive Planning to Save Farmland

Proactive Planning to Save Farmland

Elma Garcia Cannavino

In Ocala, A Win-Win Is Possible

It’s a familiar and sad chain of events when farmland is lost- growth leads to unplanned development which leads to sprawl. Without intention, open spaces and beautiful places shrink away and the character of a community is changed beyond recognition. Matt Varney comes from a family of real estate developers, and he’s passionate about farmland preservation. Together with Rob and Chris Desino, they operate Ocala Horse Properties – representing the largest portfolio of horse properties in the world. Ocala Horse Properties has been a steadfast ally in forwarding our mission, right from the beginning. Varney and the Desinos are all Founding Members, and Ocala Horse Properties is a Corporate Founder and Gold Sponsor of this year’s Conservation Summit.

We had a conversation about conservation with Matt Varney.

Why is it important to have a Conservation Summit?

“We look into the faces of buyers who come to this area for the first time,” says Varney. They are in awe of the natural beauty and open space. This is one of the few places in the country where I can literally sell a farm that is worth more as a horse farm than as anything else. This area is unique. I want to know that when I’m long gone, there will still be beautiful open space, horse farms, and a community of likeminded people. Horse Farms Forever is looking out for that future.”

Why is now an important time for conversations about conservation?

“Most communities find out too late that shortsighted development has taken over. They then have to react,” warns Varney. “That is not the case here. When we had the Coastal Connector proposal three years ago, Horse Farms Forever formed and reacted very quickly to stop it. In 4 to 5 months, we organized a grassroots effort that can often take years. Now, we are in a position to be proactive, protecting the land before it is threatened.” Varney contends that Marion County is in a position of opportunity right now, and is poised for smart growth.

“Marion County can responsibly grow in a lot of different directions,” he says. “I’m from a family of developers and have seen the effects of shortsighted development. We are unbelievably fortunate to have the Farmland Preservation Area and Urban Growth Area here, and leadership that values them equally.”

Why are you looking forward to the Summit?

“We brought John Malone to Ocala. He was a customer of ours,” notes Varney. “He is one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. His passion for land and knowledge for conservation is at a completely different level – something we should all strive for. He is a role model.” It is clear that Varney shares our excitement at the opportunity to learn from an icon, but he also recognizes the pure fact that when people who care get together, good things happen.

“I’m looking forward to seeing a large group of leaders and neighbors gathered together to learn and connect around the subject of farmland preservation,” concludes Varney.

So are we! Thank you, Ocala Horse Properties, for helping to make the Summit possible. See you at Ocala Breeder’s Sales on November 23!

Meet Some of our Gold Sponsors

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Ocala Horse Properties

Selling horse farms is our one and only business — not a hobby or a part-time job. With the OHP Team, you hire the entire company of three agents, not just one agent! We are united with one mission & only one mission: to sell your property!

We have been the number 1 Ocala Farm Sales realtors for the past 13 years and counting. And, as leaders who set the pace for how to do business and serve our clients, it’s no surprise that others locally and across the nation seek to emulate us.

Lugano Diamonds

Located in The Equestrian Hotel at The World Equestrian Center in Ocala, Florida. This world-class facility is the largest equestrian complex in the United States and we are very proud to be a founding partner. Our newest salon can be found in the lobby of the hotel overlooking the VIP Terrace and Grand Prix arena.

JP Morgan Chase

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations are integrated into the policies and principles that govern our business and reflect our commitment to sustainable growth.

Our approach to ESG management includes having robust governance systems, risk management and controls; striving to serve our customers exceptionally and transparently; investing in our employees and cultivating a diverse and inclusive work environment; working to strengthen the communities in which we live and work; and advancing sustainable solutions for our clients and within our operations.

Tri-Eagle Sales

Tri-Eagle Sales has been the leading beverage wholesaler in the North and North Central Florida area since 1996. Our 210 knowledgeable beverage professionals service over 2,000 retail customers in our 14-county territory from our two facilities in Tallahassee and Ocala. 

Niall Brennan Stables

Success is no accident was chosen as Niall Brennan’s motto because it embodies his philosophy of life. Sometimes people are lucky in the horse business but success generally comes from hard work, attention to detail, integrity, leaving nothing to chance, and striving to fine tune the quality services of our program. NBS is the leader or amongst the leaders in EVERY Category from Winner to Grade One Stakes Winner at the Two Year Old Sales from 2015 -2019.  

 

Naturally Healthy Ocala

Naturally Healthy Ocala

The great explorer and forest conservation advocate, John Muir, said

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”

Like Muir, we recognize the instinctive connection between beautiful landscapes and healthy healing.

We are honored to have AdventHealth Ocala as a Charter Member and Gold Sponsor of our Conservation Summit – happening in just a week on November 23. AdventHealth Marketing Manager, Natalie McComb, echoes the sentiments of John Muir as she explains why it is so important for Marion County to have conversations about conservation:

“As healthcare providers, we know that experiencing nature can be a powerful tool in the healing process. Our environment can also greatly impact our health and quality of life. AdventHealth Ocala is excited to support this year’s Horse Farms Forever Conservation Summit.”

Meet Some of our Gold Sponsors

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AdventHealth Ocala

 

At AdventHealth Ocala, uncommon compassion meets unparalleled expertise to help you feel whole in more ways than one. Discover how we put innovation, expertise and research to work for your whole health.

HDG Hotels

With a reputation for success without compromise to integrity, HDG Hotels is looked to as an experienced voice in the hospitality industry for those looking to build, own, and operate hotels. As both a respected developer and preferred management company, HDG’s team employs its core values of teamwork, communication, innovation, leadership and resourcefulness consistently. HDG has an established reputation for living out its vision to “positively impact” and mission of “being brilliant in the basics of hospitality”, all while offering stakeholders exceptional industry experience and results.

de Meric Thoroughbred Stables

For nearly 40 years the de Merics have revolutionized the thoroughbred industry in Ocala/Marion County. 
For the de Merics, de Meric Thoroughbred Sales is a family affair. Their son Tristan and his wife Valerie are successful consigners and live here in Ocala with their children. Ali, their daughter, and her husband Brandon Rice, who also live locally, operate a successful training and breaking business.
 
Nick and Jaqui de Meric are very present in and committed to the equine community here in Ocala/Marion County and know the importance of preserving the character and culture that horses, horse farms, and the horse industry make unique to our area.

Golden Ocala & World Equestrian Center

Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club offers its own unique equestrian amenities and is adjacent to the future World Equestrian Center Ocala. The facility, modeled after the World Equestrian Center (WEC) in Wilmington, Ohio, features:

  • Four climate-controlled indoor arenas
  • Multiple Outdoor Riding Rings
  • Stable Facility for over 2,000 Horses

The World Equestrian Center calendar is your best resource for equestrian events. Experience the quality, class, and distinction of the World Equestrian Center!

The Service Companies

As a leading service provider to the hospitality, gaming, commercial, education, and entertainment industries, we have proven success in creating a healthier and safer environment, streamlining recruiting processes, providing staffing solutions, and eliminating the hassle of managing hard-to-staff shifts for our clients.

 

Ensuring Marion County’s Tomorrow

Ensuring Marion County’s Tomorrow

A Conversation about Conservation with Todd Rudnianyn of Neighborhood Storage

The Rudnianyns are landowners, philanthropists, and real estate developers here in Marion County. Todd Rudnianyn recently aligned his business, Neighborhood Storage, with Horse Farms Forever as a Charter Member and Gold Sponsor of our Conservation Summit, coming right up on November 23.

Rudnianyn is a Marion county native. He is fluent in English, Korean, and Spanish. We thank Neighborhood Storage for their support of our mission, and Todd Rudnianyn for being so kind to engage with us in a conversation about conservation:

Why is it important for Marion County to have conversations about conservation?

“Conservation is key to ensuring that there is a tomorrow for our community,” says Rudnianyn. “Marion County is growing – and that’s a good thing! – but having thoughtful, strategic, honest conversations about conservation will help us grow smarter, and without losing sight of one of the things that makes folks want to live here in the first place – our beautiful outdoors!”

What do we stand to gain through farmland preservation?

“Farmland preservation means more than just supporting local agriculture, maintaining our county’s rural beauty, and limiting urban sprawl; it also means protecting the very thing that makes us who we are! Our local farmland – fed by our famous aquifer, and among the most scenic in the country – has helped put Ocala and Marion County on the map, and future generations deserve to enjoy this incredible natural resource too,” he concludes.

What do we stand to lose if we don’t raise the subject now?

“If we don’t find the time to address the topic of conservation now, then a time will come – sooner than we think – when there will be no more time left,” warns Rudnianyn. “Marion County is growing now, people are moving here now, and so the time to start talking solutions is now. Too late is a terrible time to try to get it right.”

How would you describe Marion County’s unique identity?

“From natural springs and pristine forests, from sprawling farmland to vibrant downtown squares, from the largest equestrian complex in the United States to boutique restaurants, wineries, and arts venues, Marion County offers all of the amenities of a big city against a backdrop of natural splendor,” he accurately describes. “We have a lot to be proud of here, and a lot to protect.”

Meet Some of our Gold Sponsors

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Neighborhood Storage

If you are looking for a storage unit in Ocala, Belleview, or anywhere else in Marion County, you’ve come to the right place!

We promise to provide each of our customers with quality storage space & friendly, caring storage consultants. Our goal is to provide you with helpful tips, maps, directions and contact information to each of our 25 storage facilities in the Ocala, Florida area. We strive to make your stay at Neighborhood Storage Center the most comfortable and convenient experience possible!

Cone Distributing

Cone Distributing is a beverage distributor presently operating in 22 counties in north central Florida, with offices in Ocala and Tallahassee.

Douglas P. Cone, Jr. founded the company in 1985 when he was only 31 years old. Mr. Cone and his team built the company on healthy and mutually profitable relationships by providing the right product, at the right time, in the right place.

Initially, the company’s territory was limited to only four rural counties and carried brands from just a few suppliers. Since the inception of the company, ownership and management have been very strategic and innovative in their approach to better serving the state of Florida.

Team Cone is committed to seeking the highest standards at every level, and our leadership team continuously looks for strategic growth opportunities in geographic territory and suppliers.

Great American Insurance Group

For nearly 150 years, Americans have trusted Great American to protect them. Their innovative insurance solutions and specialization serves niche marketplaces that they know well. This expertise gives them a successful foundation that spans generations.

Whether your client owns one pleasure horse or has a barn full of Kentucky Derby contenders, horses are an ongoing investment that deserve expert insurance coverage. With the wide variety of horse breeds and uses, it’s important to choose a carrier that understands the unique risks of every equine situation.

Pyranha-Adeptus

For over 40 years Pyranha, Inc has been innovating and providing pest control solutions for the residential and livestock industry. Pyranha not only offers ready-to-use and concentrated insecticide products as well as their misting systems, but they also offer a line of odor-management products ideal for homes, kennels, livestock areas and more.

The Equine Chronicle

The Equine Chronicle is sent out free of charge to every AQHA, APHA, ApHC, NSBA and NRHA judge. The Equine chronicle is also distributed FREE of charge at most AQHA, APHA and ApHC horse shows nationwide by over 150 distributors. And with a circulation of over 60,000 copies reaching that count, it’s no wonder The Equine Chronicle is…THE BEST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK!

 

Marion County Talks Conservation

Marion County Talks Conservation

A Thoroughbred Farm, A Realtor, and A Sport Horse Breeder…

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, and Linda Bammann of Laughing Horse Farm. Here’s what they had to say.

 

Why is it important for Marion County to have conversations about conservation?
Isaacs:

When I moved to Ocala over 25 years ago to begin my management career here at Bridlewood Farm, it was a sleepy little town with vast open cattle and horse farms in every direction. In what seems like a blink of an eye, much of the land has been developed, paved, and lost forever.

Dailey:

Talking about and developing ideas for conservation supports educated smart growth and sustainability. When the intent of land use planning is to ensure the efficient use of space and resources, farmland is better protected and allows room for communities to grow and thrive.

Bammann:

We believe horse farms and the horse industry are the basic fabric of Ocala. Clearly, the growth patterns over the last year or so are indicating that growth will only increase. We had a cattle ranch on the coast of California. We saw the beauty be completely disrupted through inappropriate growth. Given the growth of Ocala, we would hate to see that happen again here.

What do we stand to gain through farmland preservation?
Dailey:

Farmland preservation programs and many private land trusts work to ensure that we don’t destroy resources which protect our green spaces and environment: Fertile soils, drinkable water, and clean air. Natural assets should be viewed as capital assets; like tractors or office buildings, they have tangible, real-world economic value. And unlike other capital assets, they’re renewable and self-sustaining. When managed properly, their value doesn’t depreciate over time.

Bammann:

We hold on to the character of the people who built our community in a way that we can be proud of. We retain the culture of working hard and having beautiful properties that produce livestock and crops.

Isaacs:

It is vitally important that we come together as a community, and manage this intense population growth successfully and preserve the natural aesthetic essence of Ocala which is our horse farms, pastureland, old live oaks, and the natural springs. These make Marion County a very special place to live, work, and call home.

 

What do we stand to lose if we don’t raise the subject now?
Bammann:

We lose everything that makes Ocala unique. The equestrian environment and farmlands built Ocala. If we don’t respect that it will be lost forever.

Isaacs:

Quickly, we are becoming a large town with sprawl and losing our rural charm that we will never reclaim.

Dailey:

If we don’t take care of our environment and protect our green spaces, we’re only contributing to our own spiral, narrowing our world and limiting our choices. Bad decisions can affect sustainability for generations to come; it may not happen in our lifetimes, but it might in our children’s and grandchildren’s. That’s not the legacy I want to leave behind. So it’s important that we talk about ways we can protect and create green spaces, and actively support structured growth.

How would you describe Marion County’s unique identity?
Dailey:

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.

Isaacs:

Now I’m from Kentucky, and I’ve lived in Ocala a long time now, and I’m going to say that Ocala is definitely the Horse Capital of the World®.

Bammann:

It is the equestrian and agricultural community. Beautiful live oak trees, rolling hills, horses and cattle in the fields. Oak trees don’t come back overnight. Neither do the springs that feed us and a lot of Florida. Quality of life – once you lose it, you lose it forever. There would be no Central Park if not for the foresight of its preservers. Do it now or it will be lost forever.

 

 

 

A Florida-licensed REALTOR® with Showcase Properties of Central Florida since 2005 and the current Owner and Broker, Valerie specializes in the listing and selling of equine properties, as well as residential, commercial, and agricultural properties. Being a part of the sales of the three highest selling properties in Marion County’s recent years, Valerie’s expertise in real estate and leadership of her agents continues to inspire and bring Showcase to the forefront of the local real estate industry.

Showcase Properties of Central Florida is a Charter Member of Horse Farms Forever and a Gold Sponsor of the 2021 Conservation Summit.

General Manager of Bridlewood Farm since 1989. Isaacs is forever a fan of the cultivation of top quality equine athletes and Marion County as the ideal place for a thriving horse industry. Bridlewood Farm encompasses more than 2,200 acres. Founded in 1976 by Arthur and Martha Appleton and owned today by John and Leslie Malone, Bridlewood Farm has represented excellence for 43 years.

Bridlewood Farm is a Founding Member of Horse Farms Forever and a Gold Sponsor of the 2021 Conservation Summit. Isaacs serves on the Board of Directors.

Linda Bamman

Linda Bammann was drawn to Ocala by the equine industry. She is an avid equestrian and with her husband, Paul Terzani, owns Laughing Horse Farm. After an extensive career in banking and finance, Linda chose to transition to Florida to pursue her life passion. Laughing Horse Farm is situated on 30 acres. Along with partner, Marcus Gruenthal, Bammann trains and sells show jumpers.

Laughing Horse Farm is a Founding Member of Horse Farms Forever and a Gold Sponsor of the 2021 Conservation Summit. Bammann serves on the Board of Directors.

A Bright Future For Marion County

Do you believe that horse farms and the horse industry make Ocala/Marion County a unique place to live and work? Tell us about it in the comments below. Do you want our unique character and culture to live on for future generations? Add your hoofprints to the herd by becoming a member.

New To The Herd

New To The Herd

More and more members of the business community are falling in step with our mission to protect Marion County’s Farmland Preservation Area. We welcome several new Corporate Members this month, and heartily thank those who have renewed their memberships. Yes, we have work to do, but we are getting it done together as a strong voice for farmland preservation.

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Bridlewood Farm

Founder – RENEWING 

Owners John and Leslie Malone purchased the 800-acre historic facility in Ocala, Florida in August 2013, and together with General Manager, George Isaacs, are spearheading its revitalization. In the short span since they purchased Bridlewood, the Malones have procured some of the most sought-after bloodstock in the sales arena, and secured three new graded stakes winners for their stallion barn. John Malone, Chairman of Liberty Media Corp. (whose holdings include Sirius XM and the Atlanta Braves) is the largest land owner in the United States. Don’t miss a chance to hear him speak at our upcoming Conservation Summit! Leslie, a horse lover since childhood, is a well-known equestrian and major supporter of the U.S. Olympic Dressage Team.

Niall Brennan Farm Horse Farms Forever Ocala Marion County

Niall Brennan Stables

Charter – RENEWING

‘Success is no accident’ was chosen as Niall Brennan’s motto because it embodies his philosophy of life. Sometimes, people are lucky in the horse business, but success generally comes from hard work, attention to detail, integrity, leaving nothing to chance, and striving to fine tune quality services. NBS was the leader or amongst the leaders in EVERY Category from Winner to Grade One Stakes Winner at the Two Year Old Sales from 2015 -2019.

Mars Equestrian

Charter – RENEWING

A better world for horses, pets and people. MARS Equestrian™ sponsorship by Mars, Incorporated, is the link between their iconic brands and the equestrian community. We are honored to have Mars Equestrian continue to sponsor Horse Farms Forever every year since its inception.

Neighborhood Storage

Charter – NEW

We welcome Todd Rudnianyn, and his company, Neighborhood Storage, as a Corporate Member at the Charter Level. Neighborhood Storage provides quality storage space & friendly, caring storage consultants. They offer helpful tips, maps, directions and contact information to each of their 25 storage facilities in the Ocala, Florida area. 

 

The Service Companies

Charter – NEW

The Service Companies is a trusted integrated services provider providing innovative cleaning, housekeeping, food and beverage staffing, and facility maintenance solutions to hospitality, corporate cafeteria, university, school, stadium and commercial facilities. Located nationwide, services are tailored to the unique needs of clients, resulting in a superior experience for their guests, streamlined operations, improved health and cleanliness, and efficiencies that improve the bottom line.  

Welcome and
Thank You!
 

Phyllis & Pat Harlow- Charter
Patricia & Gary Lang-
Charter

David Velez- Patron

Mary O’Neal – Leader

Cheri McDermott – Friend
Andy Fuhrman – Friend

Who Belongs to Horse Farms Forever?

Individuals, farms, businesses from all over Marion County who share an appreciation for our farmland and a desire to preserve our open spaces and beautiful places. Visit our interactive map for a bird’s eye view.

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 Director of Community Affairs,
Sara Fennessy 

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. Join the herd. Every voice matters.

A Growing Concern

A Growing Concern

Those who love our open spaces and beautiful places can no longer ignore the growth coming to Ocala/Marion County. We are so thankful for our members, new and renewing, who enable us to keep inspiring CONVERSATIONS about CONSERVATION of our precious farmland. Together, we can turn our concerns into smart planning for a future that both grows our economy and protects our horse farms.

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Brook Ledge Horse Transportation

Founder – RENEWING

Brook Ledge and the people behind the name are committed to providing the most outstanding service possible in horse transportation. They ship famous show and racehorses to pasture companions and faithful steeds. Whether your horse is a companion or a champion they are all equally important and treated with the highest care and attention. 

Greater Ocala Dog Club

Partner – NEW

The Greater Ocala Dog Club was founded in 1970 to further the advancement of all breeds of purebred dogs, to protect and advance the interest of all breeds of purebred dogs and to encourage sportsmanlike competition at dog shows and AKC performance events. In addition, the club conducts sanctioned matches, AKC dog shows, companion events and performance events under the rules and regulations of the American Kennel Club. This Club also promotes responsible dog ownership.

Great American Insurance Group

Charter – NEW

For nearly 150 years, Americans have trusted Great American to protect them. Their innovative insurance solutions and specialization serves niche marketplaces that they know well. This expertise gives them a successful foundation that spans generations.

Pyranha-Adeptus

Charter – NEW

For over 40 years Pyranha, Inc has been innovating and providing pest control solutions for the residential and livestock industry. Pyranha not only offers ready-to-use and concentrated insecticide products as well as their misting systems, but they also offer a line of odor-management products ideal for homes, kennels, livestock areas and more.

Ocala Stud

Charter – RENEWING

Ocala Stud sold its first crop of two-year-olds in 1958. Since that time, it has become a tradition for the farm to sell its entire juvenile crop, either at the Ocala Breeders’ in training sales in Ocala, Florida (obssales.com), or privately, right off the farm.

The Farm never races, and never holds back promising juveniles. Yet year after year, runners bred, raised, and sold by Ocala Stud rank among the best of their divisions in the U.S. and abroad.

 

New to the Herd


We welcome you!

Gary Bybee – Leader

Sandy Davis – Friend

Rona Garm – Partner

Brooke Hamlin – Friend

Suzanne Jensen – Friend

Kit Mauer – Friend

Jennifer Shuck – Friend

Winding Way Farm – Friend

Angela Yates – Friend

Who Belongs to Horse Farms Forever?

Individuals, farms, businesses from all over Marion County who share an appreciation for our farmland and a desire to preserve our open spaces and beautiful places. Visit our interactive map for a bird’s eye view.

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 Director of Community Affairs,
Sara Fennessy 

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. Join the herd. Every voice matters.

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