OSI protects Orange County farm

NEW YORK, NY - April 27, 2005 - Today the Open Space Institute announced that its land acquisition affiliate, the Open Space Conservancy, had acquired a conservation easement encumbering the 243-acre Zylstra Family Farm in the Town of Montgomery in Orange County, New York. 

OSI's acquisition was made possible with funding from the Lila Acheson and Dewitt Wallace Endowment. The Zylstra Farm dates back to the 1800s and contains some of the best soils in Orange County, the state's fastest growing county. The Farm is also the site of state designated wetlands and on its western border, the Muddy Kill passes through the farm. These two water resources provide critical habitat for numerous wildlife. 

“The Zylstra Family Farm provides a perfect example of how public and private partners can successfully pool resources and expertise to protect farmland. This project nicely complements OSI's efforts throughout the Hudson River Valley, one of the most threatened agricultural regions in the country,” said Joe Martens, president of the Open Space Institute. 

Recognizing the importance of the Zylstra Farm, the Town of Montgomery applied for and received a grant from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, which makes farmland protection grants for the purchase of development rights (PDR). The successful state program leverages local funding by requiring a match. OSI and the USDA, through its Natural Resources Conservation Service, covered the 25% local match, with each contributing 12.5%. 

According to Susan Cockburn, Montgomery town supervisor, communities cannot afford to disregard the importance of local farms and open space. "Farming and Agricultural Practices are waning in this area at present, but like a great many significant issues, in a very short while all people will find themselves more in need of local farms and fresh foods and produce, then they will for new homes and recreational activities,” said Cockburn. 

“The Town of Montgomery has been a terrific partner in farmland protection,” said Jennifer Grossman, OSI's vice president for land acquisition. According to Grossman, OSI has worked with town officials over the past three years to protect almost 700 acres of prime working lands. In 2003, OSI worked with partners to acquire an easement protecting a family farm, not far from the Zylstras, and in 2002, OSI helped protect two farms with similar easements. 

There was no question that the Zylstra Farm was a prime candidate for a farmland easement, said Grossman. “The historic dairy farm has more than 4,700 feet of road frontage, making it an obvious development target. There is overwhelming development pressure in this area, with a great deal of demand for homes and home sites, and that places farms like the Zylstra Family Farm at serious risk. I commend the Zylstras for their stewardship and family commitment to the tradition of farming,” said Grossman.

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