NEW YORK, NY — January 20, 2011 — The Open Space Institute and the Town of Gardiner announced today the completion of a farmland preservation project that will allow Ulster County residents Marty and Thelma Kiernan to continue farming while permanently protecting their 140-acre farm that sits at the base of the Shawangunk Ridge.
OSI, through its land acquisition affiliate, the Open Space Conservancy, acquired a conservation easement that protects the three-century-old Kiernan farm, relying on partnerships with the Town of Gardiner and the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.
“Open Space Institute is delighted to work with the Town of Gardiner and the Kiernan family on this enormously scenic farm,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s Chief Executive Officer. “The Town of Gardiner and the Wallkill Valley are blessed with scenic lands that are some of the most productive farmland in New York State. Thanks to the vision of the Kiernan family and residents of the Town of Gardiner who donated to this project, views from Brunswick Road and from the Shawangunk Ridge will be protected in perpetuity, and an important beef farm will expand its operations.”
In early 2010, the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service awarded OSI a Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program grant that will cover approximately fifty percent of the purchase price for the conservation easement.
Gardiner open space advocates initiated a private fundraising campaign to provide further financial support for the project. “Gardiner’s citizens really stepped up to support this effort,” said Gardiner Town Supervisor Joe Katz. “Our Open Space Commission under the leadership of the late Greg Finger was the spark that set our participation in motion. The Town Board made a commitment to raise $50,000, and under the leadership of Rich Koenig and Warren Wiegand, this goal was met.”
“The Town of Gardiner is very proud to be a part of this great effort to save our farmland,” said Supervisor Katz. “We thank Marty and Thelma Kiernan for choosing to preserve their farm, to the benefit of the entire community. We salute OSI for their leadership in this endeavor and thank all of the donors to the Kiernan Farm Fund Drive for their interest in and support for Gardiner’s open space. We hope this is just the beginning of many conservation easements.”
The easement on the Kiernan farm prohibits subdivision and limits future development while allowing farming to continue on the land, which has been in continuous agricultural production since it was part of the larger Gertrude Bruyn patent of 1682. Marty and Thelma Kiernan’s 65-cow grass-fed beef operation is one of the several farms that locals have dubbed the “Gardiner Beef Belt,” a critical mass of 1,300 acres of beef farming along County Route 7. Presently, the Kiernans are fixtures at the New Paltz, Ossining and Westchester farmers’ markets.
The farm’s flatlands at the base of the Shawangunk Ridge enjoy stunning views of thousands of acres of protected land, including Sam’s Point Preserve, the Awosting Reserve, and Millbrook Mountain.