Arthur Kraamwinkel and Melanie Seserman will launch their new business, Hepatica Farm, focused on direct sale of organic pastured meat and dairy products, on a 100-acre farm property in Greenwich, NY thanks to a project that has permanently protected the farm’s affordability for food production.
Arthur and Melanie plan to use biodynamic and organic practices to raise pastured chicken, pork, lamb, and beef, and to develop a grass-fed dairy operation with on-farm milk processing. All sales will be directly to consumers and restaurants.
The property is a former dairy farm featuring south-facing slopes, a large old-style stanchion dairy barn, a calving barn, a machine shop, and over 80 acres of pasture and hay land, making it a great fit for their operation. There are seasonal views of the Battenkill River from the farmstead, and in other places on site there are a farm pond, a seasonal brook, and unobstructed views of the river.
Equity Trust first got involved with this property in 2013 when we were approached for help to get the farm, which was lying fallow, back into active agriculture. Equity Trust worked closely with the Agricultural Stewardship Association (ASA) to find the right farmer, figure out the strategy for protecting this farm, and make it affordable for a farmer to purchase.
Arthur says that farming has always been his greatest interest and love. An experienced biodynamic farmer, he was born and raised in the Netherlands, where he worked on Dutch vegetable farms as a child and teenager. After he came to the United States, he co-owned a biodynamic diversified dairy farm for eight years. Born into a farming family, Melanie has had a life-long interest in all aspects of food, worked for a number of years as a gardener, and completed the Biodynamic Training in Spring Valley, NY.
Through our Hudson Valley Farm Affordability Program, Equity Trust was able to pay for the purchase of the conservation easement that includes an affordability restriction (in the form of a preemptive purchase right) on the property. This conservation easement is held by ASA and accomplishes the following:
- Removes the property’s development rights,
- Requires the farm be sold in the future only to working farmers,
- Includes an affordability restriction (on the land, agricultural buildings, and farmhouse), locking in the farm’s affordability, even through future resales.
The Samuel Freeman Charitable Trust contributed $10,000 towards the easement purchase, and Arthur and Melanie also donated a portion of the easement value. Funding for project costs was provided by Equity Trust’s Hudson Valley Farm Affordability Program, and ASA’s Forever Farmland Campaign. We were thrilled to have this project finally close in February 2019! Protecting this farm was an intensively collaborative project that only came together because of the hard work of many people.