NEW YORK, NY - June 2, 2008 - The Open Space Institute and the Ulster County Farmland Protection Board announced the permanent protection of the 346-acre Arrowhead (Davis) Farm on Route 209 in the Towns of Rochester and Wawarsing, Ulster County, New York, by its land acquisition affiliate the Open Space Conservancy (OSC).
The farm is located just north of Kerhonkson, New York. The acquisition of the agricultural easement, which ensures that the farm will not be developed, is part of OSI’s ongoing Two Valleys Campaign, which focuses protection efforts on working farms in the Rondout and Wallkill Valleys, an area of scenic beauty and abundant farmland.
The project was made possible by Ulster County and the Ulster County Farmland Protection Board, which endorsed the protection of the Davis Farm and submitted a successful application to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets for a grant to purchase the agricultural easement. More on the three PDR Grants.
The Davis Farm anchors some of the Rondout Valley’s finest agricultural land. The farm occupies a key geographic position in the center of the Valley, nestled between the Catskill Mountains and the Shawangunk Ridge and running along the Rondout Creek. Gently rolling hills, prime soils which provide excellent drainage, sweeping scenic vistas and significant frontage along NYS Route 209 make the Davis Farm one of the most scenic and important farms in Ulster County.
The agricultural easement is a legally binding restriction which forever protects the agricultural and scenic values of the farm, while prohibiting housing subdivisions, commercial development and the like. Peter Davis and his family will continue to own the farm and it will remain on the local tax rolls.
“Today’s protection of the historic and scenic Davis Farm is the most recent example of OSI’s efforts to protect working family farms in the Rondout and Wallkill Valleys and other important areas of New York State,” said Joe Martens, President of OSI. “This farm has been in the Davis family since 1911, and it’s very satisfying to know that we’ve helped ensure its protection for future generations.”
After nearly a century of successful operation as a commercial dairy, the Davis Farm is transitioning to a diversified agricultural business. The evolving business’s plans include raising sheep, goats, and beef cows while producing small grains, corn and hay. The livestock enterprise will limit the use of antibiotics, growth hormones, and non-organic feed additives. Meat and dairy products as well as maple syrup will be sold locally.
“In recent years my family and I have received numerous offers to sell the farm for development, including plans to develop the property with hundreds of homes and commercial retail space along Route 209,” said Mr. Davis.
“The funds from the sale of the agricultural easement to OSC provide us the capital to turn our farm into a diversified agricultural business, ensure that residents of the Rondout Valley have greater access to locally grown, safe, fresh and nutritious food, and ensure that our family farm and our heritage will be preserved forever.”
OSC acquired the easement for $1.375 million using funds from the Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Endowment Fund, an endowment fund held by the Open Space Conservancy. The New York State Farmland Protection Program, which is administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, has approved a grant that will ultimately provide 75 percent of the cost of acquiring the agricultural easement.
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker said, "The long-term protection of the Davis Farm is a victory for the Rondout Valley and New York State. We are delighted that OSI, our frequent partner in farmland protection projects, was able to act quickly and ensure that this farm will continue to reward this region with fresh produce and scenic vistas for years to come."
The Davis farm agricultural easement brings the amount of farmland that OSI has protected in the Rondout Valley to over 1,080 acres. During the past two years, OSI and Scenic Hudson protected the 268-acre Paul farm in the town of Hurley, the 325-acre Davenport Farm, the 52-acre Misner farm in Marbletown, and OSI protected the 95-acre Osterhoudt farm in the town of Marbletown. In both the Rondout and Wallkill Valleys of Ulster County, OSI has preserved over 2,500 acres of productive agricultural land to date.
OSI is actively seeking support to protect an additional 3,500 acres of farmland in these two picturesque valleys that surround the Shawangunk Ridge, where OSI has protected 25,000 acres including Sam’s Point and much of Minnewaska State Park. Across New York State, OSI has protected over 100,000 acres.