B 3 Farms Conserved: 1,567 acres of farmland protected near Amsterdam-Churchill

June 28, 2024

GVLT has partnered with the Braaksma family to conserve 1,567 acres of productive agricultural land southwest of Amsterdam, just west of Four Corners. The new conservation easement, an agreement that ensures the Braaksma’s B 3 Farms property will remain forever open and available for agriculture, is not the first easement established by the family. Previously, the Braaksmas partnered with GVLT in 2016 to conserve 720 acres of prime agricultural land above the Camp Creek drainage.

The Braaksma family has been a hardworking part of the agricultural community in the Gallatin Valley since 1894. Today, B 3 Farms’ operation, run by the fourth and fifth generations, includes both a dryland farm where they grow barley, wheat, and peas, and an irrigated farm where they raise alfalfa, corn, wheat, and barley. B 3 Farms also offers custom feeding for ranchers who don’t have winter pasture.

This new conservation easement ensures the family can continue to pass on their agricultural heritage.

“We want to keep this space open so our family can continue to farm from generation to generation,” explains Darren Braaksma. “It’s a great lifestyle. You have a lot of time to be with your family. I want my kids to have the same opportunities I did and learn how to farm.”

Amsterdam-Churchill is one of GVLT’s conservation focus areas because of its prime soil quality—identified as some of the best in the state by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In addition to its productive soils, the Braaksma’s property also offers year-round habitat for upland birds, deer, small mammals, and raptors. The stunning scenic views of B 3 Farms can be enjoyed from Camp Creek Road and Amsterdam Road, as well as from the west side of Belgrade.

“With the growth in the Valley, it’s important to preserve open land,” explains Darren. “We already have one protected open space on our property and now we have another.”

Within a five-mile radius of the Braaksma’s property, there are 20 additional easements, totaling over 8,500 acres of protected open space.

“We are extremely grateful for the Braaksma’s ongoing dedication to conserving open lands,” says Crystal Beckman, GVLT Conservation Program Manager. “This increasing network of protected lands in the Amsterdam-Churchill area helps maintain the agricultural heritage and breathtaking landscapes specific to Gallatin County and southwest Montana.”

This project would not be possible without the commitment of the Braaksma family, who have invested significant time and energy in the process and donated a substantial amount of property value. This donation and funding from the Gallatin Valley Open Lands Program was matched with funds from the NRCS. Gallatin Valley voters renewed funding for the local Open Lands Program in 2018.

The B 3 Farms project represents GVLT’s 129th conservation easement. Since 1990, GVLT has partnered with families to forever protect over 67,000 acres of some of the most highly productive, scenic, and wildlife-rich lands in southwest Montana.