The Finger Lakes Land Trust (FLLT) announced it has permanently protected 421 acres of farmland at Christiansen Farms in the towns of Benton and Torrey, Yates County. Funds for the project came from the state’s Farmland Protection Implementation Program (FPIG), administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. FPIG funds were used to purchase three agricultural conservation easements protecting five non-contiguous parcels.
Christiansen Farms is a third-generation, NOFA-NY certified organic dairy and crop farm. Ownership of the operation is currently transitioning from Guy Christiansen to his sons Tim and Ryan. Presently, the family are farmer-owners in the Upstate-Niagara Cooperative, where they ship their milk.
In addition to raising dairy cows, the Christiansen family grows soft red wheat and soft white wheat which they sell to Wegmans Food Markets’ for their artisan bakery products. The farm has grown this partnership over years and now devotes a large portion of their land to growing high-quality, locally grown wheat specifically for this agreement.
The farm is approximately 2 miles northeast of Penn Yan and within commuting distance of several other Finger Lakes communities, and is thus subject to increased development pressure. The conservation easements will limit residential and agricultural development to designated farmstead zones on the property.
“Every day there is ever-increasing development pressure,” said Tim Christiansen. “It’s very important that we keep land in agricultural production so people know where their food comes from. Without farmland, there is no food.”
The Christiansen Farm is the seventh Yates County farm protected by the FLLT through New York State’s Farmland Protection Implementation Program.
Conservation easements are voluntary legal agreements that permanently limit future land use in order to protect the land’s conservation value. Lands subject to conservation easements remain in private ownership, on local tax rolls, and available for traditional uses such as farming and hunting.
By working cooperatively with landowners and local communities, the Finger Lakes Land Trust has protected over 29,000 acres of the region’s undeveloped lakeshore, rugged gorges, rolling forest, and scenic farmland. The FLLT owns and manages a network of over 45 nature preserves that are open to the public and holds perpetual conservation easements on 176 properties that remain in private ownership.
The FLLT focuses on protecting critical habitat for fish and wildlife, conserving lands that are important for water quality, connecting existing conservation lands, and keeping prime farmland in agriculture. The organization also provides programs to educate local governments, landowners, and residents about conservation and the region’s unique natural resources.
Information on the region’s premier destinations for outdoor recreation may be found at www.gofingerlakes.org, a resource created by the FLLT to encourage people to get outdoors. Additional information about the Finger Lakes Land Trust may be found at http://www.fllt.org.