Farms We’ve Protected

Memory Lane Farm

Marietta, NY

Memory Lane Farm has been connected to Jim and Marcia Masters’ family for a century. Originally owned by Gerald Frost, Marcia’s grandfather and father rented the land from Gerald for 50 years. Her grandfather retired at 60 but still continued working on the farm for several years after. Gerald eventually decided to sell the farm when her father was in his eighties. Meanwhile, Jim had already been farming with his father and brother on a nearby farm. In need of more land, Jim and Marcia decided to buy the farm from Gerald to expand their business.

Jim is now a retired dairy farmer and these days he sticks to raising just a few animals for pasture. They still grow corn, soybeans, oats, hay, and wheat on the 300-acre farm which mostly gets sold to other local farmers. The farmland consists of 78% Honeoye loam soil, a 20-acre woodlot, and a creek that runs through the property before emptying into Otisco Lake – and for over a decade it has been under the protection of a 250-acre conservation easement.

The Masters’ motivation for preserving their farm was bigger than themselves. Sure, they would love to see the farm stay in the family through their 3 children, but as Jim pointed out, farming can only remain practical if it exists in a large capacity. The more farms we save, the bigger the chunk of land dedicated to farming, the better off the whole system is. Likewise, Jim recognizes that it’s not just about conserving farmland, but the whole infrastructure around the practice of farming as well. “You need the infrastructure to feed the farms,” he said. “If you buy stuff, it’s going to break, and you need a support system.” That support system (i.e. tractor dealers, mechanics) can only exist if there is a relevant demand from the surrounding area for their business.

In terms of where Jim imagines his own farm in 100 years? Well, he can’t! He hopes it stays in farming one way or another, but he knows better than try to predict where agricultural trends will go. To his point, there is a historic tobacco barn at Memory Lane Farm from the late 1800s when it was a popular crop. 100 years ago, the farm was a huge cabbage producer and they still have the cabbage barn from those days. Then it transitioned to a dairy operation when the Masters bought it, and presently the farm is used for crops again. The farm has lived many lives in a century. Jim may not know what the next big thing for the farm will be, but he does know that he doesn’t want anybody to abuse the land. Forever protecting it was a good first step in that direction.