The Finger Lakes Land Trust (FLLT) 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 Grants 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 its land to producing 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 Grants 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.