What does it mean when a Marion County business aligns with Horse Farms Forever by joining as a member? Quite simply, it means that they care about our open spaces and beautiful places. It means that they are willing to support farmland preservation and our unique equestrian heritage. Thank you, new and renewing members!
The Summit was a great success! Over 400 people attended, virtually and in-person. See our photo essay and link to media coverage. View feedback from guests.
At the Marion County Commission meeting on Tuesday, the Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) was approved for the 10.5-mile segment of SW/NW 80th/70th Avenue. This road will be widened to four lanes, starting at SW 90th Avenue to 0.5 miles north of US Hwy 27. Funding for design of phased portions of the corridor is available in the current budget.
Paul Wildman, P.E., from Guerra Development Group, presented the PER, a 900-page document with detailed maps and conceptual designs of the proposed road. The PER report is the first phase. The next three phases are: design, right-of-way acquisition, and construction.
The proposed alternatives routes for the Northern Turnpike Extension avoid the Farmland Preservation Area and other major Marion County horse farms. Thus, at this time Horse Farms Forever takes a neutral position on the proposed alternatives to the northern extension of the turnpike.
In our watchdog role, HFF will continue to closely monitor the situation to assure there are no detrimental impacts to the Farmland Preservation Area. In addition, we will be attending the two upcoming public meetings.
When Horse Farms Forever Founder, Mary Jane Hunt, was seeking a one-of-a-kind award design for the Acorn Conservation Award, she sought the help of Adam Warner from Mountain Trails Gallery in her summer hometown of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Warner connected Hunt with Durango, Colorado, wildlife bronze sculptor, Bryce Pettit. Both Warner and Pettit were moved by the mission of Horse Farms Forever, and happily accepted the project, graciously donating a portion of their services.
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.
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.”
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.
Ocala Breeder’s Sales President, Tom Ventura, describes the extensive renovations to their facility that took place over the past couple of years. Imagine our excitement when they so kindly offered us this amazing facility for this year’s Conservation Summit! We are so grateful for OBS’ support as a Founding Corporate Member and Gold Sponsor.
The American Farmland Trust (AFT) has been an inspiration and source of knowledge for us here at Horse Farms Forever (HFF) since our inception 3 years ago. At last year’s Summit, AFT’s Billy Van Pelt was treated to a helicopter ride over the top of Marion County by HFF President, Bernie Little. This is what he had to say about the significance of Ocala/Marion County’s Farmland after seeing it from the air.