In 2012, the Western New York Land Conservancy permanently protected its first farm in the Town of Eden, the 102-acre Surgenor Farm, with a conservation easement. The Surgenor Farm was the first of hopefully many farms in Eden to be protected and preserved.
Eden’s soils are among the most fertile in all of New York State and support a thriving agricultural economy, an economy that is threatened by sprawl. Only nine miles south of Buffalo, and adjacent to the Town of Hamburg, Eden faces significant development pressure. One new subdivision, Water Valley Preserve, was built just over the Eden/Hamburg town line in Hamburg. This is a worrisome trend for those who wish to have productive farms in Eden well into the future.
The Feasley family farmed in Eden for over 70 years. They started a small vegetable business which gradually evolved into a dairy business that included the Surgenor Farm. There was a pasteurizing and bottling plant, a small store behind the farmhouse and another store in Eden. The business, known as Feasley’s Dairy, sold ice cream and other dairy products.
The Surgenor Farm was owned by Douglas and Lois Surgenor in the 1960s. Lois Surgenor served on the Eden Conservation Advisory Council and worked for many years to help preserve Eden’s farmland. The most recent owners of the Surgenor Farm, brothers Bill and Bob Feasley, continued Lois’s work. The Feasleys retired from farming in 2000.
During the summer of 2012, the Land Conservancy received a call from farmer and retired Eden Town Supervisor, Bill Feasley. The time had come for him to sell his last remaining farmland and he wondered if it would be possible to ensure that his farm remained in agriculture.
Thanks to funds from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, the Town of Eden, a private donation, a bargain sale, and a short-term bridge loan from The Conservation Fund, the farm was protected in record time and a closing held on the final day of 2012. The Surgenor Farm, with its spectacular view of Lake Erie and Canada, will be farmland forever.