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.
Spring is the season of promise. Meet the new and renewing members who have recently aligned with our mission to preserve and protect Marion County’s precious farmland: Richard Helms, College of Central Florida, HDG Hotel Development and Management Group, Naples Luxury Homes, Phys Assist and many more!
So many of Marion County’s iconic local businesses have chosen to align with our mission of farmland preservation, year after year. We recognize together that a bright future for horse farms is a bright future for us all.
As the year turns over, Horse Farms Forever celebrates the growth of our membership at the grass roots. Although 2020 was a challenging year in many ways, the economy in Ocala/Marion County remained strong. Threats to the integrity of the Farmland Preservation Area did not abate, and there’s no sign that they will in the future. More and more farm owners, concerned citizens and businesses have joined us, publicly aligning with our mission to preserve the character and culture that horses and horse farms bring to Ocala/Marion County and protect the Farmland Preservation Area. Here are the latest:
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.
The Board of Directors of Horse Farms Forever is excited to announce the promotion of Sara Powell Fennessy to Executive Director of the organization, effective January 1, 2021. Horse Farms Forever, Inc., is a not-for-profit corporation registered with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services as well as a 501(c)3 with the IRS.
Our mission is to inspire the conservation of horse farms by preserving the natural pasture land for horses and their habitats, and to protect the soil and water on which they depend, while minimizing land use conflicts in Ocala/Marion County, Florida.
Like one of Marion County’s beautiful live oaks, we are growing broader as an organization even as our roots stretch deep. A dedicated group of supporters continue keep us alive and healthy as our mission gains momentum in the community. Thank you to all who have recognized the importance of open spaces and beautiful places in Ocala/Marion County and the importance of preserving what makes us unique – horses and horse farms.
As we inspire Marion County to uphold and protect its global brand as the Horse Capital of the World®, it is gratifying to see the wide range of members who are joining us. Everyone has a stake in keeping Ocala/Marion County open and beautiful, including our development and real estate companies. We’re going to grow. The question is where, when and how. One new member who is an expert in sensible growth planning and natural resource protection is Tillman and Associates Engineering. Tillman sponsored and attended our Conservation Summit last week. We are grateful for their support and the expertise that president David Tillman brings to the table. As experts in civil engineering who also recognize the importance of preserving the character and culture that horses and horse farms bring to Ocala/Marion County, Tillman is an important ally and resource.
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.
On Wednesday, November 18, 5:30 to 7:30 pm, a public hearing will take place. The public is invited. We will be there as FDOT shares the results of their study. The public is invited to comment on the “the location, conceptual design, and social, economic and environmental effects of the proposed improvements.” We intend to suggest some improvements that would make the interchange a fitting gateway for the Horse Capital of the World® and the Farmland Preservation Area. It is our intention always to work collaboratively and affect positive change where necessary to protect Marion County’s global brand. Instructions for participation in person and virtually are in the hearing notice below: