Groups collaborate to preserve historic working farm in Gardiner

GARDINER, NY - 1/9/2003 - This afternoon, the Phillies Bridge Farm, one of the Hudson Valley's most cherished, historic farms, was preserved in perpetuity at a closing that took place in New Paltz. 

First farmed in 1743 the Phillies Bridge Farm is one of the oldest working farms in New York. The Wallkill Valley Land Trust, The Open Space Institute, The Phillies Bridge Farm Project, Inc., and donors of the property, Mary and Jim Ottaway, agreed that the farm represented an important historic and natural resource and worked together to preserve it. 

The Ottaways recently gave the sixty-five acre property with its farmhouse and barns to the Phillies Bridge Farm Project. In turn, the Farm Project conveyed a conservation easement on the property to the Wallkill Valley Land Trust, Inc., and the Open Space Conservancy, the land protection affiliate of the Open Space Institute ( OSI paid nearly $50,000 to the Farm Project for its share of the conservation easement, which restricts development and maintains the agricultural viability of the land forever. The Wallkill Valley Land Trust will take responsibility for monitoring the property. 

Phillies Bridge Farm, located in Gardiner, NY, is a not for profit organization dedicated to agricultural education. On an annual basis, Phillies Bridge serves over 100 local families, 50 disadvantaged families, and more than 500 school children and youth through its outreach and education programs. Phillies Bridge Farm provides training of farm apprentices and Americorps members and educational opportunities for all ages. Now the project has a secure home from which to address its mission. 

Farmland protection is a top priority for OSI, which has been conserving land in the Hudson Valley since the 1970s. “NY state has lost a great deal of prime farmland; we're truly working against the clock to reverse this trend and identify farms like Phillies Bridge, where there is a strong incentive to preserve the farming tradition and protect the land in perpetuity,” said Joe Martens, President of the Open Space Institute. “The Phillies Bridge Farm is an enterprise in the truest sense of the word because it is imaginative, productive, and highly collaborative,” added Martens. 

Bob Taylor, President of the Wallkill Valley Land Trust said, “We are excited to be preserving active farmland and supporting agricultural education. Preserving working landscape is one of our central goals and a major need in our area. This is a collaboration in the truest sense of the word. No part of this would have happened without the other pieces being in place.” 

“This is a very exciting day,” said Fred Mayo, President of the Phillies Bridge Farm Project. “This is local people working together to solve local problems and meet local needs. That is very much what the Phillies Bridge Farm Project is about - working together around the issues of agriculture and education.” 

The Wallkill Valley Land Trust, founded in 1987, works for land conservation, for the preservation of open space, and for environmentally appropriate development throughout the towns of Southern Ulster County. The trust holds eleven conservation easements and five pieces of property with a total of nearly 700 acres.

Founded in 1974, the Open Space Institute ( is a nonprofit organization that protects significant recreational, environmental, agricultural, and historic landscapes for public benefit. Since its inception, OSI has permanently protected over 70,000 acres throughout New York's Hudson River Valley. In addition, OSI has assisted in the protection of close to 600,000 acres in the Northern Forest, which encompasses critical wilderness areas in NY, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

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