December 20, 2007- New York, NY The Open Space Institute (OSI) is pleased to announce the expansion of its agricultural protection efforts as a result of new funding by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. The farmland protection grants were announced today by NY State Agricultural Commissioner Patrick Hooker at an event in Homer, N.Y.
The state will provide 75% of the cost of conservation easements on three farms that OSI has been working to permanently protect from development in the Rondout and Wallkill Valleys.
The funding comes from Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) grants offered by the state’s Department of Agriculture & Markets Farmland Protection Program. OSI will fund the remainder of the cost in conjunction with local partners.
“OSI applauds Governor Spitzer and the Department of Ag and Markets for supporting family farms, the agricultural economy they sustain and the incomparable fresh food they produce for local communities,” said Joe Martens, OSI president. “Today’s announcement shows that the state recognizes the importance of conservation easements as a powerful tool for protecting a way of life that has been a part of the Hudson Valley for centuries.”
Governor Eliot Spitzer today announced approximately $35 million in funding through the Agricultural and Farmland Protection Program to protect nearly 13,300 acres of active farmland across New York State.
The funding is the largest dollar amount ever dedicated for farmland preservation, and will go to protect the largest single amount of acreage in the program’s 11-year history. The funding will go 35 farms in 22 counties.
“New York State has a rich agricultural tradition, and farms are vital economic engines for many New York communities. That is why programs like this are important to preserving and protecting the future of our farms,” said Governor Spitzer in a state press release. “The Farmland Protection Program helps keep struggling farms viable, supports the State’s rural economies, and preserves open space. By increasing the program’s funding and streamlining the grant process, we will be able to protect more acres this year than ever before.”
A conservation easement is a legal and binding agreement whereby landowners voluntarily and permanently restrict the future development of their property to preserve the landscape’s scenic, open, historic, natural and/or agricultural character. For farmers who have worked their land, sometimes over multiple generations, it is a great way to continue their agricultural tradition and realize equity without succumbing to economic pressures from developers.
The Open Space Institute has spent more than $1 million to protect over 3,600 farmland acres that have received PDR grants. This is part of the 100,000 acres that OSI has protected across the State of New York, including major parts of the Hudson Highlands, the Shawangunks and landscapes throughout the Catskill and Adirondack Forest Preserves. OSI’s land acquisition affiliate, the Open Space Conservancy, accomplished much of this protection with funds from the Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Endowment, a permanent fund that was transferred to the Open Space Conservancy in 2001.
The following OSI farms received PDR grants:
Arrowhead Farm in the Towns of Wawarsing and Rochester, Ulster County
After nearly 90 years as a commercial dairy, this 293-acre third-generation family farm is now transitioning to a diversified agricultural business that will include growing grains with a no-till method, raising goats for meat and chickens for eggs. Owned by Peter and Philip Davis, part of their diversification plan includes building 10 -15 small log cabins so that visitors can come and experience a working farm. The cabins are being carefully placed in the woodlands, avoiding adverse impact to both soils and viewsheds from the Shawangunk Ridge.
Domino Farm, Town of Rochester, Ulster County
The 127-acre farm owned by Eleanor and Margaret Anne DeWitt in Accord has been continuously farmed since 1955. The DeWitt family has built up one of the preeminent registered dairy herds in the nation, including a first place ranking in New York State for Jersey herds of its size—in both protein and milk production in 2006. In addition to the dairy operation, the farm cultivates hundreds of acres of corn, alfalfa and grass. More than half of the property contains Soils of Statewide Significance.
Glen Haven Farm/Greenwich Orchids International Inc., Town of Crawford, Orange County
This 113-acre farm is owned by Ted and Wendy Siegel and has two components: Greenwich Orchids International, Inc., a hot-house orchid operation that produces prize-winning flowers, and Glen Haven Farm, which raises champion Gelbvieh and Scottish Highland breeding cattle stock, including Magnum Force, a shaggy beauty that received the “Grand Champion Bull” prize at the 2007 New York State Fair in Syracuse.
The land sits atop an aquifer that is the main source of water for the Town of Crawford, and the Siegels run their operation naturally, without the use of chemicals. The land also contains wetlands and prime soils and is in the viewshed of the Shawangunk Scenic Byway, the Mohonk Preserve and the Shawangunk and Schunnemunk Mountains. This farm borders the DeVries Farm and is proximate to the Vellenga Farm, both protected by OSI through the PDR program. This brings the total PDR/OSI protected farmland in the Town of Crawford to 356 acres.