Sarasota County protects 32 acres of environmentally sensitive lands along Curry Creek

Acquisition also will expand public access to Curry Creek Preserve

Sarasota County has purchased the 32 acres formally known as Edmondson Farms, using funds available through the Environmentally Sensitive Lands Protection Program (ESLPP), staff announced on June 16.

During their regular meeting on March 7, the Sarasota County commissioners approved the proposal to buy the land.

“In addition to archaeological features,” a news release explains, “the property is home to the historic headwaters of Curry Creek and the baygall swamp, mesic hammock and pasture provides crucial habitat for native wildlife like a variety of wading birds, eastern grey squirrels, and gopher tortoises.”

Further, the 32 acres will enable staff to expand public access to Curry Creek Preserve by adding a trail and a preserve entrance in the future, the release notes. Curry Creek Preserve has a Venice address.

“We are excited about this win-win opportunity for both the county and the Edmondson Family,” said Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources (PRNR) Director Nicole Rissler in the release. “The family wanted to preserve their family land, and with this acquisition, additional public access will be established for the beautiful Curry Creek,” she pointed out.

“The ESLPP is a voter-approved and taxpayer-funded program that began in 1999,” allowing the county to acquire and protect environmental land, the release explains. Since its inception, the ESLPP has protected and preserved more than 40,300 acres of natural habitat, with more than 21,000 of those acres placed under conservation easements, the release notes. Conservation easements remove the lands’ development rights and require the property owners — current and future — to safeguard the land in terms of maintaining greenways, water quality, habitat and wildlife protection in perpetuity, the release points out.

The Environmentally Sensitive Lands Oversight Committee (ESLOC) advises the County Commission on land nominations, acquisition, management, prioritization, and use of environmentally sensitive lands throughout the county, the release adds.

Edmondson Farms had been family-owned and operated since 1923, the release notes. “George Williams cleared 275 acres and started Nokomis Dairy in 1923, delivering to homes in Venice and Nokomis through the Great Depression and World War II,” the release adds. “The property and dairy were purchased by George Mountain Edmondson Jr. in 1947. Edmondson continued the dairy operation for another 15 years and then bought milk from Land O’ Sun, a commercial distributor in Sarasota.”

The release says that the younger Edmondson “passed the home delivery business on to his sons,” Tom and Bill and then sold all but 43 acres of the property for residential development before his death in 1974. Over the past 60 years, the release continues, “the Edmondson family used the pasture to graze beef cattle, breed Quarter Horses, and raise goats. The goat operation will continue on the remaining 11 acres of original farm property, where the 1923 house and 1940 barn and outbuildings still stand,” the release says.

“We are grateful for Sarasota County’s long tradition of acquiring open space for the public to enjoy,” said Brad Edmondson. “My father, who died in 2012, always said that he wanted the pasture to become a park. The county’s purchase allows my family to honor him and my Uncle Bill, the lives they led, and their hard work and sacrifice. Edmondson Farm will continue, and this addition to the preserve will be their legacy.”